Existential Party Music

Music doesn’t always bring people together, but this list does. A compilation of music from every genre with one common theme: time is like wine if you stomp its fruit with all your might.


C. Travis Webb

Among you I dispense        Tra voi, tra voi saprò dividere

my days with delight;         il tempo mio giocondo;

All is folly in lifeTutto        è follia nel mondo ciò

that brings no pleasure.       che non è piacer.

Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata is the twenty-first century’s most performed opera so far, and its brindisi, or “Drinking Song,” is its most famous piece.

This song’s lively tempo remains accessible almost one hundred and seventy years after its premier in 1853 because celebrations, libations, and love still fire the imaginations of ruddy monkeys the world over.

Hedonism gets a bad rap because buttoned-down scolds fail to understand pleasure’s deep complexities.



C. Travis Webb

Been working everyday since I was twenty
Haven’t got a thing to show for anything I’ve done

So, turn me loose, set me free 
Somewhere in the middle of Montana

Merle Haggard wasn’t the first to key into this kind of lament, but he captures the pitch of it perfectly.

This one take hit single co-written with Haggard’s life-long friend and driver, Dean Holloway, doesn’t just play out that old, false rural-urban antagonism. It recalls Sisyphus’ predicament and Roy Batty’s keen.

The complaint is not that all of our works and days amount to nothing. It’s that we traded wonder and play for the dull procedures of an utterly managed life.


C. Travis Webb

Give me my freedom for as long as I be
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me

And all I ask of dying is to go naturally…

A nearly straight line can be drawn from Emily Dickenson to Laura Nyro, who sold this song to Peter, Paul, and Mary in 1965 when she was only seventeen.

This version benefits from BS&T’s horn section, whose cri de cœur conjures the shofar, and every howling petition since Gilgamesh.

I decided to marry my wife the night she played this song for me.

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