Category Archives: Tray’s Music Corner

When I Thought I Was Punk

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Sometimes our younger years feel so long ago, and other times they feel a “blink of an eye” away.

A particular song did that for me this past week, and then I, of course,found myself going down a rabbit hole of old songs that I associate with that period of my life. 

In middle school and high school I listened to a lot of “punk” or “skaterboy”  or “Tony Hawk video game” music. However you want to classify it. It was a reflection of the company I kept and the town in which I grew up in. 

Anything Volcom I wanted to own and every Tony Hawk game I needed to have. Some of my favorite past times were riding my bike over the bridge to the beach to meet up with friends in Cape May to hang out all day or just cruise around the neighborhood on my skateboard. 

Let me just note, this was merely a part of who I was – I was also an athlete, a homebody, a reader, and a hippie loving child amongst many other things. I swear my vast music taste that spreads across genres & decades is a reflection of how I was able to become a chameleon to many different friend groups. 

Anyway, I somehow found myself listening to Pennywise – then I stumbled into Bad Religion, Millencolin, NOFX, and I just got lost in it all. Instantly transported to a time where my biggest worry was if I was going to be able to meet up with my friends over the weekend. 

I could spare you all the trip down memory lane and just say go listen to the Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack (which you should do anyway) – but instead I’ll highlight some of the classics that had me laughing at imagining 13 year old angsty me rocking out to the following songs. 

Yesterdays – Pennywise

As I was browsing in Spotify, I looked up an old band I used to love when I was in my middle school years. I haven’t listened to Pennywise in so long, but seeing the albums Full Circle and From the Ashes I was transported back to a younger, angstier time in my life. When all that mattered was playing Tony Hawk and longboarding to meet up with my neighborhood friends. Sometimes I wish my muscle memory for music was something I could apply to a few other things in my life that could use it. Anyway, this took me back to a fond time in my life where I had to listen to every track on an album because I was only allowed to take on CD to play in my Discman while riding the bus to school. So bada**. (Also listen to – Society)

Los Angeles is Burning – Bad Religion

Listening to this music again is making me feel like I am stuck in a Tony Hawk Pro Skater soundtrack, and I don’t hate it. A true nostalgic moment for myself, interesting to listen to it as an adult. Realizing the truth of the song and meaning behind it – how sensationalistic the media is (said by bassist Jay Bentley). (Also listen to – You)

No Cigar – Millencolin

This was definitely one of my favorite songs from this music era in my life. As soon as I hit the play button I felt something ignite in me that just wanted to sing along and jam out. It also made me really miss the group of guy friends I had that influenced this music on me at the time. They all had big dreams of moving out West (which they all ended up following through with for the most part & chasing their dreams). Funny how music can pull you back into a certain time period of your life, or old friends. 

Timmy the Turtle – NOFX

Well, this is just for humor and pure appreciation for how catchy this song is. I remember I got this album the summer I was going into 8th grade as a birthday gift. That album cover is forever burned into my memory. 

Superman – Goldfinger

If there is one song that encompasses Tony Hawk Pro Skater it has to be Superman by Goldfinger. This is a song that always puts me in a good mood and I like to return to it from time to time ….All of a sudden I have an urge to watch the movie Brink. 

Seein’ Red – Unwritten Law

The movie Grind. *that’s it, that’s the story*

Die For Your Government – Anti-Flag

In a way, it cracks me up that 13 year old me was seeing these songs. Like, I lived in a split-level house in a small beachtown in New Jersey – who did I think I was? I loved this song so much though. I know younger me didn’t fully comprehend this song as I do now, but oh I would love to meet younger me to have a chat about their thoughts on this song. 

….and with that I wish you a Happy New Year

A Friend of Dorothy

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I’m fascinated by all of the code names people used to use to communicate that they belonged to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Lately I’ve wanted to know more about the history of the Queer community, so I’ve been seeking out a lot of literature that can help me to understand how far the community I belong to has come.

I had never heard the phrase, “A Friend of Dorothy” until recently – but as soon as I did a let out a laugh. Then I tried to comprehend how terrifying it must have been back then to have to use coded language to connect to others.

For all the times I have fantasized to want to grow up in a different time, I am grateful that I live in the here and now (even in the pandemic times of 2020). I could not imagine not being able to live my truth out loud, or never having the chance to meet my chosen family out in the open. *note for those not in the LGBTQIA+ community: I do experience hatred on a regular basis, and sometimes exist in fear of living so outwardly. I think that’s important for folks to know.*

One of my favorite things about myself is my Queerness – I am a friend of Dorothy, just like the other Queers before me.

The phrase left me curious to go through some standout LGBTQIA+ musicians from the past. Some I have listened to before, and some recently discovered (I suppose nowadays it would be a friend of Beyonce, Cher, Whitney or Britney….or still Dorothy because, she’s still relevant).

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester

This is actually one of my favorite songs to play when I’m in a dancing mood or need to pump myself up. I imagine if I was alive when Sylvester first came about in the late 70s and 80s I would’ve been a huge fan. For some reason I picture myself walking into a Gay bar on a weekend in the Castro just to see Sylvester perform. Queer history really had some fabulous figures within it.

Galileo – Indigo Girls

You may be thinking since I grew up in the nineties I listened to the Indigo Girls – but I never did. The funny thing is I grew up on a lot of different music, but never remember listening to the Indigo Girls. I know they are recognized as the very gay band of the nineties (Lilith Fair and all…). When I got into the Indigo Girls it was actually around the time I came out (stereotype, I know) and I started to watch the series the L Word (…the stereotype keeps doubling). This is one of my favorite songs by them, and I of course will always appreciate “Closer to Fine” because it is the first song I heard of theirs (and yes it was the scene from the L word when they are all in the van…).

Million Dollar Bill (Frankie Knuckles Radio Mix) – Whitney Houston

Frankie Knuckles…this was a fun discovery of mine – I had never heard of Frankie before, but there’s a lot of information out there about him. They referred to him as “The Godfather of House Music” and he was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 1996. Of course after listening to a few songs this song stuck out to me because, Whitney.

When the Party’s Over – Janis Ian

How funny it is that it always seems that those within the LGBTQIA+ community tend to gravitate towards one another without realization. Like in elementary and middle school – how many of my good friends from then are now living life happily out of the closet (as if I had my own gaggle of gays back then, without any of us realizing…). Anyway, I consider the same with music. I remember listening to Janis Ian after getting into collecting vinyl as a teenager and feeling drawn to her music in a very deep way. Funny to think years later I’d be writing this piece about LGBTQIA+ musicians within history and reminiscing of the first time I listened to Janis Ian feeling connected, and yet still not knowing myself.

Karma Chameleon – Culture Club

When MTV and VH1 played music videos once upon a time I used to be glued to the TV when this song came on. I was entranced by Boy George and “Karma Chameleon”. Now this song makes me long to go back to times when dancing in the streets for Pride or Outfest or in Queer bars was once a thing (pre-2020).

Watch Me – Labi Siffre

At first I thought I had never heard of Labi before, and was excited to discover his music. Then I started to listen to a few of his tracks and was instantly like “hey..wait a minute…” Eminem and Kanye have both sampled his tracks for their songs – as I am sure many others have as well. Once again, remember how I mentioned the incredible coincidences where LGBTQIA+ people are somehow drawn to each other without realizing? Labi’s story is intriguing and his music is soul soothing. Important to note he has been out- openly gay throughout his career too.

City Girl – Joan Armatrading

The first time I listened to Joan Armatrading was just last week. I was trying to find more artists that had a similar sound to Joni Mitchell, and Spotify led me to Joan Armatrading. This was one of the first songs that pulled me in. Her voice reminds me of Tracy Chapman with the feel of Joni Mitchell. When I looked her up I realized she was also a part of the community (which instantly makes me appreciate an artist or frankly anyone… a little bit more). I’ve been pretty hooked on her music ever since, and this album particularly.

Tutti Frutti – Little Richard

For no reason for which I can remember I listened to Little Richard a lot as a kid. I loved his music and he was just so fabulous – almost hard to resist. Sadly I think my appreciation for him took a bit of a backseat in my life up until his recent passing. I began to revisit his music more and learn more about his history with being underappreciated within the industry.

Fast Car – Tracy Chapman

One of my favorite songs when I was younger has held true into adulthood. As an adult I feel I have related to this song in different phases in my life and somehow the same words in a song have had different significant impacts to various stages in my life. I love Tracy Chapman and I could listen to her all day long.

Main Event – RuPaul

The Brady Bunch movie was the first time I saw RuPaul on screen and I was mesmerized. That scene stuck with me for years (the one at the pool with Jan). Then Rupaul’s Drag Race was a thing, and I fell in love with the Queens of season 2 and so many seasons later – it’s still my favorite. This album is my favorite of Rupaul’s and the world outside of the LGBTQIA+ community needs to know more than just “Supermodel” and “Covergirl” exist.

References and Further Reading:

How the LGBTQIA+ Community Has Influenced Music

Pitchfork

Rolling Stone

LGBTQ Music Icons

Holiday Music to My Ears

By Tray Taylor
Instagram: @allusiontoreality

Through the years I’ve realized there are three kinds of people out there: 

  1. Ones that love Christmas music and will start playing it as soon as they possibly can.
  2. Ones that tolerate it, but only when (and I mean ONLY when) Christmas is a few days away.
  3. Ones that cringe at the sound of it. 

So where do I fit? I fall into the let me listen to Christmas music whenever I need a lift in spirits, and that definitely starts some time in November. 

But don’t worry 2’s and 3’s – I usually keep this to myself through headphones or when I’m in a car driving solo. I won’t subject others to it until, at least, December. 

My favorite thing growing up was playing Christmas records on our huge stereo (that had a radio, cassette player, record player, and cd player). We had a solid collection of Christmas with The California Raisins, Chipmunks Christmas, New Kids on The Block, and I’m sure a few other classics. 

The ones I still own: two throwback vinyl records and one new…all Christmas

Then the 90’s and 2000’s brought us a few classics like: 

+Mariah Carey (ahem the Queen of Christmas) – Her original Christmas album is the stand out above them all. I remember being young and trying to make up dance routines (by myself) with a single candy cane – as if I was in one of her music videos for “All I Want For Christmas is You”. Fast forward for a second to current time, have you seen her special that includes a festive number with Jennifer Hudson and Ariana Grande? If not, go watch it…now!

+Snowed In by Hanson (things that feel gay, but aren’t gay) – I remember walking in the mall past an FYE (remember those?) and seeing this beautiful album cover. My obsession with this band was so deep, and this album fulfilled all of Christmas music AND Hanson needs (…still does).

+Whitney Houston – She’s a woman that gave us lots of holiday content in these decades – with her ‘One Wish: The Holiday album’ and her role in The Preacher’s Wife.

+*Nsync’s Christmas album (did it even have a name?) – Apparently this album was entitled ‘Home for Christmas’ – who knew? This album is very nineties, but also still amazing from start to finish even in 2020. And that music video for “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” yes…please…on repeat.

+Britney Spears – let us not forget “My Only Wish (This Year)” because without Britney Spears what were the 2000s?

+TLC – I don’t know about you, but TLC encompasses everything 90s. “Sleigh Ride” is a necessity to listen to and have on every Christmas playlist. Plus, that video will surely send you back to more cheerful times than the current.

+Hilary Duff – before there was Miley Cyrus on Disney Chanel there was Hilary Duff. I just rediscovered “Down on Santa Clause Lane” when trying to create my latest holiday playlist. And I listened to it about five times on repeat. This song reminds me of the abundance of cheer Christmas music can bring.

+Vanessa Williams (okay but have you EVER seen A Diva’s Christmas Carol? *more on this later in an upcoming post if you haven’t*) – Little gayby me loved Vanessa Williams – so much to the point I can’t explain why entirely. The early 00’s gave us the pleasure from VH1 of dropping a full soundtrack of Vanessa William holiday songs via the movie A Diva’s Christmas Carol. I watched that movie any chance I got, to the point that it irritated everybody else in the house because it was on so much.

+Destiny’s Child – Oh the “8 Days of Christmas” how representative of the times. The music video for this song is so festive and will fill you up with nostalgia. One of the greatest female groups in musical history provided us this song, so if it’s not on your playlist – is your holiday music intake even complete?

I could go on, believe me – especially with all the new music that has come out over the past couple of decades. Instead, I’ll just share my newly created playlist, along with one filled with more of the “classics”. 

Happy Holigays (I needed a more upbeat Christmas playlist, and for it to be super gay)

‘Tis the season (I created this back in 2013, and have been adding on ever since – note: does contain some repeats from Happy Holigays)

So, where do you fall on the holiday music spectrum- are you a 1,2, or 3? Share some of your favorite holiday songs with me below in the comments.

Dusting Off the Bookshelf

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

The tale is in the title this time. 

I was trying my best to hold off on buying new books because my bookshelf is overflowing (as it darn well should be since I am a writer & a librarian). The problem is I haven’t read some (several) of those books or I never really intend on reading them more than once. 

So, this past weekend I went through my main bookshelf and made three piles:

+books to give away
+books to read & then give away
+books to FINALLY read & put back on the shelf. 

This activity in itself made me feel accomplished (it really is the little things in 2020).

Especially because I was not only letting go, but I was dusting off a shelf that really needed it (I forget that adulting means you actually have to dust your apartment). 

Anyway, it put me in the mood to revisit older songs that I adore, but haven’t listened to in awhile. 

Sometimes revisiting the past through music can help us to appreciate where we are in the present. 

1.Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen


One may think because I am from NJ I would follow suit in loving Bruce Springsteen. Truth is, I was a bit of a music snob that took pride in being someone that didn’t enjoy his music at all. Then one day someone told me, even if you don’t like his music – do yourself a favor and listen to the album Nebraska. It’s now one of my favorite albums and this is one of my favorite songs. If I had to only live with 10 albums for the rest of my life Nebraska would make the list. If you find yourself hesitant about Springsteen’s music like I once was, I will give you the same advice someone once gave me – listen to Nebraska.

2.The Wheel – Grateful Dead


If you’ve read any of my previous posts you know I mentioned my love for the 60s and 70s culture. I grew up a kid truly obsessed with the music and wanting to know everything about the time period. Right out of high school I went to my first Phil Lesh show – which was followed by a handful of Bob Weir, Furthur, and The Dead shows. I remember the first time I heard The Wheel live – I know jam band music isn’t for everyone, but it’s a different experience hearing it in person. At those shows I really felt like I was getting to experience a bit of a decade I wasn’t alive to live through. And oh what long and strange trips they were…

3.Try (Just a Little Bit Harder) – Janis Joplin


I’ve been listening to Janis a lot lately and dusting off my vinyl records. She’s been a favorite of mine since I was younger- I was always fascinated by her. If you really take the time to listen to this song it embodies all of the power that is Janis Joplin. The energy and the voice is all jam packed into this one song. A woman that was an icon of her time, and certainly doesn’t get the recognition she deserves compared to the men in her era.

4.For Once in My Life – Stevie Wonder


What other artist has the ability of connecting people through music better than Stevie Wonder? This song is one of my favorite Stevie songs, and it just sort of has the ability to get you out of your seat & sing along. I’ll never forget the time he did a surprise free concert in Philly (and ya’ll wonder why I talk about why I have such a love for that city…). It was right when I got back from my 25th solo birthday trip from Seattle, it felt like an extended birthday gift. I walked from my place in South Philly to Dilworth Park and got myself a seat on the lawn not too far from the stage. Stevie Wonder is timeless, and that is one concert I will never ever forget.

5.Walkin’ The Boogie – Memphis Slim


If this song doesn’t leave you speechless, I’m not sure what to say about your musical ear. I discovered Memphis Slim this year when I was trying to discover new music (for myself). This is a standout song and after you’ve listened to this – I encourage you to check out more of his music. Memphis Slim’s depiction of Blues music is like a stellar painting heard through sound.

6.Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival


Oh CCR how I’ve adored this band for so long – I went through a phase of only listening to CCR for a bit and wanting to listen to their entire discography. Green River was the song that always stuck out for me because of how upbeat it is. Honestly, I don’t think I knew (and still don’t fully know) what the lyrics were other than when he sings “Green River”. The instrumentals are my favorite though, and even as I relisten to this song now – I realize how quickly it puts me in a good mood, and why it was always a favorite.

7.Voodoo Woman – Koko Taylor


Thanks to a new vinyl subscription I received as a gift this year, I discovered this incredible woman. Her voice will blow you away, it is absolutely astonishing. Koko Taylor, who was sometimes called “Queen of the Blues”, is one person you need to add to your playlist…right now. If you take nothing else from this post today, add any one of her songs (although I recommend this one) to a playlist. Sometimes people wonder how can you “feel” music? Listen to her sing, if that doesn’t “feel” like you’re “feeling” something outside of yourself…check your pulse.

8.Wild World – Cat Stevens


Does anyone remember Myspace? This song was on my page for the longest time. I was young and angsty with a whole life ahead of me. At the time this song meant something completely different to me, and it’s funny to even think what my world of problems were as a teenager. Not to mention how very real they felt at the time. Now, I think I just listen to this song and appreciate the life I have lived so far as well as the many years ahead of me.

Once Upon a Rock Journalist Dream

by Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

Of the many writing dreams I had for myself as a kid, becoming a rock journalist was pretty high on the list. I had a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine dreaming my name would one day be featured within the pages. 

Almost Famous was one of my favorite movies – yep I was extremely jealous of William’s luck and lifestyle (for years I was convinced I was born in the wrong decade). I was the kind of kid that was fascinated by music from previous time periods – especially the 60’s into the late 70’s culture of music. 

My love and appreciation for music runs deep. 

I have come to realize since starting this blog that the pieces I enjoy sharing most are the ones where I pick a few songs and add commentary. 

As the blog continues to grow, and transform – I would like the music sharing to continue to be a constant. (Note: I have also categorized my writing posts now. Tray’s Music Corner is where you will find song suggestion posts.)

Music has been and will always be a big part of my life – and I fully believe sharing music is one of the most intimate things people can do.

And on that note, here’s some music to get you through the week (I know the stress of the holiday season is among us and in a different way than ever before): 

1.Soul Sacrifice – Santana 

This song was my introduction into the great Carlos Santana – and let me say, this man is one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I used to ask my Dad often about Woodstock and he would tell me how much he loved this performance in particular (no he did not attend even though he was old enough at the time – yes I grew up pestering him about this.) Santana’s music is incredibly calming and I proudly own at least half of his discography on vinyl – aside from Jim Croce, Santana is my favorite music to put the needle on the record to. If you’ve never taken the time to listen to his guitar skills, please do your ears a favor and do that right now. 

2.Holiday – Lil Nas X


It’s December and this song feels like it should be played year around. Lil Nas X is a gem and I’ll admit I didn’t appreciate him to the fullest extent until he came out as Queer. This song is catchy and it is guaranteed to get stuck in your head after a listen or two. My favorite verse in the whole song (based on the fact that I love clever inserts) “Man, I snuck into the game, came in on a horse/ I pulled a gimmick, I admit it, I got no remorse/ Nobody tried to let me in, nobody opened doors/ I kicked the motherf**ckers down, they didn’t have a choice”

3.A Case of You – Joni Mitchell


Anything and everything Joni Mitchell soothes my soul. I’ve began to appreciate her music in my late twenties and now as I am beginning my thirties. These past few years living in DC I have found when I feel lost or need to be recentered I turn on Joni Mitchell. So, I share with you one out of the many favorite songs I adore. 

4.The Boss – Diana Ross

This is my “get up and dance song,” my “everything is going to be okay if you dance it out song”. Ms. Diana Ross is the Queen of my feel good tunes playlist. Seriously though this is one of my favorite songs of all time, and it is the one song I think can be put on at anytime to improve my mood no matter what. 

5.I Love Me- Demi Lovato


Demi, Demi, Demi – where do I begin? First, I think her talent goes unappreciated among the other teen stars that emerged at the same time as her. She has been through some struggles, some real life hardships (if you don’t know, I recommend looking up her story…I will alert content warning for drug use). Anyway, this song had perfect timing for me personally and it was one of those songs I loved to belt out loud word for word when I am alone in my apartment. 

6.I Know a Place – MUNA


Sometimes I go down Spotify rabbit holes – like that section that says “fans also like”. That is how I found MUNA and I am so damn glad I did. This song has been on repeat for me for over two years now. It is upbeat and the lyrics are ones that pull, at least, to my soul of souls. A beautifully written and sung song with the catchiest of beats. 

7.Hazy Jane ll – Nick Drake


I fell in love with Nick Drake’s music when I lived in Philly, and I think that was the perfect time for me to have discovered his music. Listening to this song now, it takes me back to a crisp fall day in Philadelphia with me walking through one of my favorite parks right after all the leaves have just turned into a burst of golden colors. That day I described is actually a feeling that this exact song gives me. A sort of nostalgic feeling, wrapped in a hug of hope for the future ahead of me.

8.Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads

“Same as it ever was…” no matter where I am in life I swear it seems this song keeps coming back. I remember as a kid hearing this song being played in my Dad’s truck as we would go out for a drive. The meaning of the song has changed for me as I have gotten older – when I was little I thought it was just a silly song. Now, as an adult still figuring it all out, I find myself asking the important question “Well…how did I get here?”

Have any of the songs I have written about so far sparked any memories for you? Did you discover a new artist or maybe an old favorite? Let me know in the comments below.

Showtunes for the Soul

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

When I was younger I used to climb onto the corner of the couch and perform “Grease Lightning” as if I was the next Danny Zuko standing on top of a 1948 Ford De Luxe convertible.

So gay (I’d like to note I mean this in an endearing way, not the way childhood bullies and frankly adults with homophobic tendencies try to tarnish the word like it’s a bad thing.)  

No wonder the first time I was brought to a Showtunes Sunday in the Gayborhood I felt like I was at my home away from home. In reality I was just on the top floor at Tavern on Camac, squished like a sardine between a gaggle of gays who had all just got done a full day of Stonewall kickball. 

These nights were magical. Messy sometimes, sure – but mostly magical. 

Last week I enjoyed my long holiday by singing nothing but showtunes (I even created a playlist). 

There are rare moments when I feel fully myself – and this was one of those moments. A much  needed moment of reconnecting with myself. 

The playlist reflects some of the videos that would pop on the screens at Showtune Sunday and one or two musicals that I adore. It’s a long list so, here are just a few of my favorites: 

  1. Mamma Mia Soundtrack (shout-outs to Mamma Mia, Take a Chance on Me, The Winner Takes it All, Does Your Mother Know, and Super Trouper)


Oh the movie that awakened the baby Queer inside of me. This soundtrack was played on repeat between me and my best friend the year before he came out and shortly after I followed suit. It’s funny to think we were both so obsessed with this movie and its soundtrack – so close yet to accepting ourselves. 

2. Easy Street – Annie 

Overall, I prefer the Carol Burnett version of Annie. However, musically? Give me Alan Cumming all day, anyday. I love it, it’s catchy and the villains of any movie are always the Queerest. also Audra McDonald is in the version with Alan Cumming, and well you know I SWOON for that woman & her vocal chords

3. Suddenly Seymour – Little Shop of Horrors

Did this movie scare me as a child? Absolutely. As an adult did its musical numbers give me life? Without a doubt. Whenever this scene popped on screen at Showtunes it would fill me with joy – sure it’s slow – but it hits in all the right musical feelings.

4. I Will Follow Him – Sister Act

Yeah, I grew up watching this movie- and I loved it. However, there is something magical about this scene coming up on all four screens and you’re on the dance floor surrounded by a bunch of people that are in the same community as you and you all burst into song in the same moment. A room full of strangers in an instant feels like a room full of family (the beautiful magic of belonging to the Queer community).

5. You Don’t Own Me – First Wives Club (song by Lesley Gore)

This right here is an example of how Queer my childhood was before I was able to admit it to myself. I was obsessed with this movie, and I watched it often with my cousin. It brings me pure joy, so much joy that I own a pillow depicting this scene in cartoon form on my couch. Legendary is all I can say, purely legendary.

First Wives Club Dancing GIF - FirstWivesClub Dancing Walking - Discover &  Share GIFs

6. Totally F**ked – Spring Awakening


Okay so this never ever plays at Showtunes, but it is a showtune that reminds me of one of my favorite people on this planet. I have seen this friend perform this show multiple times and in different roles. This song has gotten me through some crap days, and it always reminds me of one of the sunniest friends I know.

7. Good Morning Baltimore – Hairspray

I remember how often the original Hairspray movie used to play on TV, but the fabulous soundtrack for it that exists today wasn’t written until 2002. Whenever I hear this song come on whether it was at Showtune Sundays or truthfully anywhere – I get filled with sparkles of joy. I mean the line says “Tracy it’s up to you” …why wouldn’t I suddenly feel a glittery sensation of hope?

8. I Won’t Say I’m in Love – Hercules

This Disney animated movie is underrated – the music soundtrack alone is phenomenal. I remember watching this in elementary school when we had a substitute (who else didn’t love VHS day?). I fell in love with the music of this movie. Susan Egan’s voice is a real gem. Whether you are broken hearted or want to pretend to be just for the length of the tune. Not to mention how Queer this movie is – just look at Hades, the Muses, and so on and so forth. Anyway, if you love musical songs I recommend listening to this soundtrack (when I need inspiration in life I still lowkey listen to “I Can Go the Distance” on repeat). If you watch Disney movies and have yet to see this, please go watch it at some point this month.

9. Take me or Leave Me – Rent

I don’t think I saw Rent until I saw some of the musical scenes from the movie played on a Showtune Sunday. I fell in love with this scene – I mean, Tracie Thoms and Idina Menzel? Yes, pretty please. So catchy, and it persuaded me to finally watch the musical movie. Which is in ways problematic, but no doubt does it have catchy tunes. I mean, can you tell me how else would you know how to measure a year?

10. There are Worse Things I Could Do – Grease 

This entire movie musical was my childhood, and back then it was Danny & Sandy for me. Adult me however, understands how flawlessly badass Stockard Channing’s character was. Rizzo was the true gay icon of the movie, and this song was the “woe” bop we all never knew we needed.

And if you are curious as to what other songs I have on the playlist…here it is on Spotify:

The Sounds of Joy

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

When I first started this blog, it was mostly so I could get into the habit of daily writing again. Something I knew would bring me happiness, and maybe a few people would like to read what I had to say.

Lately, I have been trying to figure out what it is I want to keep sharing on this blog or if I should have a particular focus. I concluded that …I don’t think I have a conclusion on that.

I am a lover of music, pop culture, books, and many things that most folks don’t particularly know about me. So far, that is what I have been sharing on this blog – sharing pieces of myself & the things I love. And I think that is how I will continue – for now.

On another note…don’t you love weekends that feel like resets? That is what I had this weekend, and it was beautiful.

For the first time since the beginning of March I looked forward to a Zoom call. I was able to connect with a good friend, catch up, and talk about our experiences with writing. Incredibly refreshing and fired me up with motivation.

The other highlight from this weekend was decorating for my favorite holiday. Yes I am a person that decorates way too early, and no I have no shame in that.

My new fiber optic tree that is giving me all the vibes of joy that I knew I needed this year.

But I do know it is way too early to start writing about the meaning of Christmas, so I will transition into a few song suggestions that are guaranteed to bring you a sense of joy and wonder…not holiday related.  

1. I am America – Shea Diamond


Okay…have you watched We’re Here on HBO or are you light years beyond everything that is fabulously Queer in the world? This is the theme song to the show, and let me just say… I sincerely think there should be a petition for this to be the new Queer anthem of the US. Anyway, listen to the song and go watch the TV show on HBO (no excuse if you don’t have HBO, free trials exist ya’ll…)

2. I Love Yous – Hailee Steinfeld  


Yes, you are right this song sounds familiar because it is a sample off of Annie Lennox’s “No More I Love You’s”. Maybe this song is for you, maybe it isn’t … I will say for me – I had this song on repeat for months when it first dropped a few months back. It’s catchy and allows you to be overly dramatic as if you’re living in a break-up scene in a movie.

3. To R. – Father John Misty


My music taste is all over the spectrum, I know. Father John Misty reminds me a bit of Nick Drake (I said a bit). I am a fan of his music, and I discovered his music from another one of my favorites who listens to him – Geographer. If you’re looking for music to relax to, I fully recommend this song.

4. So Emotional – Whitney Houston


Sometimes I just need to dance it out, and I usually turn Whitney on when I need to do that. It is amazing how healing breaking out into randomly dancing can be. Between this song, and “I Want to Dance With Somebody” …I know what artist I can depend on to dance me out of any funk.

5. Sugar Baby – Megan Thee Stallion

I don’t think I could call myself a fan of music if I didn’t recognize a song off of Megan Thee Stallion’s debut album (that just dropped on Friday). This is one of my favorite songs off the album, simply because of the beat and the feel good vibe to it. The entire album deserves a listen because, damn that woman is dripping with talent.

Remember, even in our darkest of days – there is still music to shimmer some light into the cracks.

Turn Up The Volume

By Tray Taylor
IG: @allusiontoreality

I tried my best to keep to writing two to three times a week, but life has a funny way of ruining that routine. My goal is to continue on with posting as many times as originally planned, and not allow certain things to get in the way of what makes me happy. Which is writing.

The way things have been going recently, I thought it was best to share another music post. Lately, music and true crime podcasts have been my short head-phone getaway from reality.

So, here a few songs I’d like to share with ya’ll

1. I Remember Her – Ingrid Michaelson

The first time I listened to this song was after my Mom-Mom passed in 2016. She was my rock. I drove down from Philly to visit her and slept overnight in the hospital two nights in a row because I didn’t want her to be alone. When times are tough, I long to be able to give her a call. Since I can’t, I turn to music that reminds me of her to give me a sense of comfort. Songs that comfort us, and remind us of loved ones that are no longer here are so important.

2. Cruel to be Kind – Letters to Cleo

Oh my love for 10 Things I Hate About You – I love the movie and I love the soundtrack. Whenever I hear this song I find it nearly impossible to be in a bad mood. The lines from this movie are timeless. Tell me, can you ever just be…whelmed?

3. Turn Your Lights Down Low – Ms. Lauryn Hill feat. Bob Marley

This song is exquisite AND beautiful. Their two voices balance each other so well even if it is digitally done. If this song was a scene in nature it would be a field of colorful wild flowers set against a vibrant lilac tangerine sky. I needed to listen to this song a few times on repeat to mellow myself out over the past month.

4. Glenn Miller Medley – Judy Garland and Martha Raye

Most people don’t know, but I am a huge Glenn Miller fan. I also have a bit of a soft spot for the classic Gay Icon, Judy Garland. Combining the two just brings me flutters of Gay bliss. If you didn’t know this song existed, and you’re a fan of either – I highly recommend it.

5. Sunshine – Johnathan Edwards

The first time I heard this song I was living in Philly and it was right after I pulled myself out of deep dark rock bottom. I would listen to it frequently just to pep myself up and remind myself there is a bright future ahead. If this doesn’t do that for you, did this remind you of a song that does? Go seek that song out and listen – now.

6. My Chemical Romance

Full disclosure, I thought I was too cool to listen to or like My Chemical Romance when they first came out (I know, lame). However, fun fact – my Dad was and still is a huge MCR fan. It is because of him that I know their albums from start to finish after the many times of riding around with him and their music would be ALWAYS be on in his car. For some reason, I have been playing their songs on full volume lately and it has been centering me more than anything else has been able to. The truth is, I’m not okay (pun may or may not be intended).

7. Effect and Cause – The White Stripes

I hated the White Stripes until a college boyfriend (yes, this was before I came out…. and just a note that relationship taught me a lot about myself. He is a great guy and I will forever be grateful for the bond we did have.) broke down for me the raw talent of both Jack and Meg. I will say it took weeks of convincing though. This is the one song that still sticks with me because of the line, “you can’t take the effect and make it the cause, I didn’t rob a bank because you made up the law.”

8. Got ‘Til It’s Gone – Janet Jackson (Q-Tip, Joni Mitchell)

When I saw Janet perform this (honestly her whole set was flawless) in Vegas over a year ago, my mind was blown. She is a performer in all sense of the word. This song is a true bop and what we all need now is a good song to bop to.

9. It’s a Beautiful Life – Ace of Base

Back in my younger days, like three years old, “I Saw the Sign” was my absolute favorite song. There is video footage to prove this, somewhere. For me now, I love listening to Ace of Base for nostalgia sake but this song I am sharing particular because it takes me back to a time of innocence and bliss.

10. It’s Not Right But It’s Okay – Whitney Houston remix

Oh Philly Gayborhood days, how I miss you so much. I miss my chosen family there, I miss the environment, I miss all the gays roaming the streets, and I just miss the feeling of blindly belonging to a community. This song represents so many good memories, with some pretty spectacular folks that I miss dearly. So, yep, my next question is…. what song reminds you of great friends and times that you still cherish the memories of?

Please share your stories in the comments, I would love to hear what songs/memories may have popped up in your head after reading this post.

More Music. Less Social Media.

By Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

I tried to hold myself accountable this week by listening to more music and being on social media less. My conclusion was that I need to do this more often.

This wasn’t something where I attempted to avoid social media all together, just being aware of intentionally using it less. There were definite times when I had to check myself. Like when I would find my finger subconsciously hitting the Instagram button when I was just trying to check the weather app.

Making this intentional change for the week was important because I wanted to be focusing on doing things for myself. Not letting work or other obstacles deteriorate my mental health.

So, I revisited an old habit of mine that allows me to recenter. I was listening to music that reminds me of bright moments throughout my life. One thing I truthfully love about music is how a song or an artist can sort of transform us back to a “back when” moment or remind of us a certain person.

Here are a few songs that have taken me back this week to more delightful moments

1. Mother We Share – Chvrches

Okay, so I am a fan of the entire album and I highly recommend it if you haven’t listened to it before. This song particularly though transforms me back to my first year in Philly – my first year of “independence” as an adult. They were definitely times of struggle for various reasons, but overall this song brings me feelings of nostalgia for a time in my life that I will forever be grateful for. A time in my life that helped me grow.

2. Naked Kids – Grouplove


This is another song that takes me back to Philly. A time when I was waiting tables, running food, and making cocktails. I thought I was going to be in the restaurant industry forever, I didn’t realize how special the moments I was living in would end up being. I met a handful of spectacular folks working in the industry in Philly – the job itself wasn’t always pretty. The memories we made both on and after the shifts were over – those are the moments I will cherish forever.


3. The Garden State Soundtrack


Did I mention I was from New Jersey? Don’t hold it against me, please. Well, I was in high school when I fell in love with the movie Garden State (that was Zach Braff’s love letter to NJ) and I fell even deeper in love with the soundtrack. I am pretty sure my senior year quote was straight from this movie, “If you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s gonna seem a whole lot longer than you like.” Anyway, this entire soundtrack is beautiful and it needs to be listened to in its entirety (I have it on vinyl, and I highly recommend it). It’s important for me to note, I hated high school and I would never ever want to relive the experience. This music takes me back to the house that I grew up in for 23 years, and driving around in my old Jeep Cherokee Sport getting lost in the music driving along the back bay roads.

4. Cake – Flo Rida

Pure joy and silliness is what feeling this song ignites for me. 2017 was my last year in Philly and it was also my last year coaching the team that meant a lot to me – which is when this song was brought into my life. The team was in a van, on a spring break road trip, as the other assistant coach was driving she turns this song on. It was followed by a lot of laughter and memories I keep with me on days when I need to be taken back to that time in my life.

5. Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters – Elton John

My first New Years in DC, I didn’t know many people other than those I worked with. I was invited to a (now very dear) friends house and at some point in the night I think this song played a couple of times. For whatever reason, I’ve held onto this song because of the line “I thank the Lord there’s people out there like you” those words remind me of the close friends I have made in DC. Living here hasn’t always been easy- but I know life brought me to this city for a reason. I truthfully believe a majority of that reason is because of the people that entered my life while I have been here and changed it for the better in ways they may not be aware of. Those folks are some pretty tremendous humans that I am reminded of whenever I hear this song. *Also highly recommend Mandy Moore’s cover of this song*

Be sure to share in the comments a song that brings you back to a time or person in your life that brings a smile to your face.

Now, I am going to go get lost in some music and Mariah Carey’s memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey that arrived in the mail earlier this week.

The Soundtrack of My Week

“Give yourself a break”
by Tray Taylor
IG @allusiontoreality

What a week.

As I type that I can hear Jack Donaghy in my head reminding Liz Lemon it’s only Wednesday. The show has been off for years, and I still find 30 Rock references to be relevant in my everyday life. *cue the BLERGH sound effect*

For the sake of my own sanity, I have been forcing myself to find pockets of joy in every possible way. Lately, music has been what is bringing me that flash of glittering happiness. Whether it is listening to the music on my laptop, headphones, or vinyl on my record player.

The songs are never the same genre and never within the same decade. My music taste is vast and it ranges over a plethora of time periods. I owe that to my “old soul” personality and to my Dad who raised me to appreciate a wide array of music. So, if you ever need a partner on “Name that Tune” just send me an e-mail and I am game.

I am going to share the songs that have been getting me through this week within this post. Maybe they will inspire you to make a playlist. (Just a note, I have a playlist for every season and every moment or mood. I take making playlists very, very seriously.) Maybe my song suggestions will help you to discover a new artist or song. I just know what the power of music has done for me when I use it intentionally. And maybe, with intention, you will be able to find a tune to get lost into – if even for a moment. Those tiny moments are vital right now.

So what are my songs of the week you might be wondering?

  1. Hot Stuff – Donna Summer & Kygo

Overall, this week I have been listening to (on repeat) a “disco diva” playlist on Spotify. This is a prime example of what I mean when I say the music I am listening to depends on my mood. Then, Kygo dropped this remix last Friday and it has been on repeat daily in my apartment

2. Loose Lucy – Grateful Dead

I grew up a fan of classic rock and more so grew into liking jam bands when I was a teenager thru my early twenties. If you have been to my apartment or “you knew me when” you would know that I am a bit of a Dead Head. This week I was revisiting my roots and this song had me up and dancing along as if I was at a Dead concert all over again.

3. A No No – Mariah Carey

The only person that can get away with using “irregardless” (because that is not a word) in a song and make it a bop is Ms. Mariah. I have been on a “I have a watch, but I do not have the time” kick lately with a lot of things – so this song has felt like my theme song for the past two weeks.

4. I Am Woman – Helen Reddy

This song has two meanings for me. I played it on repeat Friday after I heard the news of RBG’s passing while on the phone with a good friend. The other meaning this song has me for me was a few years ago, during my first year of coaching – the head coach had the athletes make up a dance to this song at the end of the season as a traditional team bonding activity. Lately, I have been missing that community a lot and how that place & those people really felt like a second home.

5. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight – The Postal Service

Truthfully, I have been listening to this whole album on repeat as I go for walks. This is a throwback to younger times for me, but has always been a favorite. Listening to it now has a different meaning to me than what it meant to me years ago. I love how music can grow with us, and teach us different things as we get older – even though it is the same old song.

See, I told you my taste was random. If you aren’t a fan of the music I shared this week, that’s okay- maybe the next time I share a few songs you will enjoy a couple of them.

Now, I challenge you- is there any song this week that has been giving you that glitter of happiness? Share it with me in the comments, there is nothing I enjoy more than discovering new music. Especially music that gives others a sense of joy.

Remember to keep in mind – sometimes we just need a reset, and sometimes we just need to dance it out. *See what I did there? Begin with a TV reference and end with a TV reference. Thank you Yang, Grey, and Shonda Rhimes*