Tag Archives: music suggestions

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken

By Tray Taylor
IG: allusiontoreality

Sometimes writing for this website feels like I am consistently learning how to ride a bike and continuously falling off it each time.

There’s imposter syndrome and loads of self doubt with being a writer, but the gag is …. in order to be a writer you have to get over that and write anyway. 

I don’t think I can count the amount of times I heard the phrase in my life, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” I’m trying to relate that to what was working when I first started creating posts on this site and I don’t want to stray too far away from just sharing music with my opinions/reviews to each track or sharing book suggestions or writing anything in my authentic voice. I say all of this because I’m looking to grow my readership, so if you ever want to recommend my writing to a friend, family member, or stranger …that would be greatly appreciated. 

What does seem to be broken though are these past two weeks, because every single day has felt like a Monday. The amount of energy it has taken to intentionally find the silver lining in each day has been utterly exhausting. 

I have searched endlessly to find just the right kind of songs to make me feel upbeat for a mere two minutes of the day. Here are those songs (tell me why I said that like that part in L&O:SVU when the intro says, These are their stories.):

Shakedown Street – Grateful Dead

This is one of the songs that made me fall in love with The Grateful Dead and it is a song I turn to often when I want to reconnect with my younger self. My teenage years and early twenties were very drenched in Dead Head culture. I went to a lot of shows, played the music endlessly on repeat, and dressed the part. Over the years I’ve strayed a bit from my hippie ways, but every now and then I like to play the Dead to remind myself of how carefree life once felt…especially in moments of stress.

At My Worst Pink Sweat$ feat. Kehlani

Okay so, yes this is more of a sad bop. The truth is sometimes, when I am searching for music to uplift my spirits listening to sad songs that I can sing along to actually have a tendency to uplift me (I know I am not alone on this). This song is fairly new, and has been added to one of my recent playlists that I have had on repeat. I love the combination of both of their voices together – poetic in every sense.

Dead FLowers – New Riders of the Purple Sage

I admittedly didn’t discover New Rides of the Purple Sage until a few years into my love for the Grateful Dead. It was actually an old Tumblr friend that recommended the band to me. Sidenote: Tumblr for those that don’t know, is a blogsphere type of platform where others can connect through similar interests & blogging (Disclaimer sidenote: this was not the best description, you can Google it for further details). ANYWAY – my point is I have been going through old favorites of mine and stumbled upon this gem.

Got My Mind Set On You – George Harrison

Oh sweet George – I have a deep love and appreciation for George Harrison. I think the first time I heard this song when I was younger, I became instantly obsessed. I know for those that have listened to George Harrison’s music this may seem like the overrated single and he has a greater discography than this song….and I would agree with this sentiment. However, this song still has a special place in my heart, and will always be a favorite. Especially in a time when I need a song to boost my mood.

Heat – Paul Woolford, Amber Mark 

This song just made me feel like I was in a club in the Gayborhood in Philly or at Pride …and I couldn’t resist putting it on the list. I miss music to dance to, I miss dancing, I miss the feeling that dancing to good music gives the soul. So, if you want – here’s a directive…turn up the music, and dance wherever you are…right now.

America – Simon & Garfunkel

Yeah, I know… another sad bop…and this isn’t the last one – so get over that already. I adore this song. I adore Simon & Garfunkel. They were one of the first artists I listened to that showed me that some music lyrics are absolute poetry. Their music tells a story of a time I wish I could travel back and live through. My old soul yearns to just live during this musical time period more often than not. If I could live in a song – it would be this one, hands down.

Dancing On My Own – Robyn

A forever favorite of mine. Robyn is a go-to when I want to get up and dance – but don’t know exactly what I want to be listening to. The answer is never not Robyn, so therefore it is always Robyn. Plus, I mean…”Dancing On My Own”… it just kind of hits different during a time of quarantines and pandemics.

Orpheus – Sara Bareilles

Swoon…Every. Single. Time. when it comes to Sara Bareilles. Her voice is like the sun setting across an ocean horizon and the sky fills up in bursts of all of the colors that every existed in the universe. Beauty that expands any true imagination. She has the power to write a slow song and I find myself singing my heart out in my apartment suddenly filled with energy. Or maybe I am just some strange person that enjoys singing sad songs even when I am not sad just to feel something? I don’t know. Anyway, she’s a master of her craft – if you’ve never listened to any of her music…please do me a favor and go, now.

Welp. That’s it. That’s all there is for now. Writing this made today, an actual Monday, feel a lot less like a Monday…so hopefully reading it did something similar for you.

More Music to Add to Your Playlist

By Tray Taylor
IG: allusiontoreality

Here’s the thing with me and I’m assuming some other people out there – I didn’t mind not being able to socialize for an entire year. I loved not having to feel the pressure of flaking out on people simply because I did not have the energy. I didn’t feel a sense of guilt for having to come up with an excuse that I just wanted to go home to read a book, listen to music, or watch TV. 

I also know that this year has been really hard for my friends that get their charge from being around others. That’s just…so not me. 

There was no “hitting the wall” for me, except for that one time last month of March 2021 when I was like…I just wish I could go out dancing with my friends again. Then I woke up the next day and was happy to not have any plans on my calendar. 

This is no shade or anything to my friends that I love so much – I love you all deeply and enjoy spending time with you. I’m just a hermit and that’s the truth. 

I do a really stellar job to appear outgoing to most, but that’s all a facade – I promise. 

You know one thing that really recharges my energy?
You probably guessed by the title where this was going to go…yes, yep…it’s music! ….And it’s been far too long since I’ve shared with you what songs I’ve had on repeat lately. 

Through these long drawn out days of what has been so far a gorgeous spring…I offer you a few songs to add to your playlist: 

Starstruck – Years & Years 

This song is to be played when you want to cook dinner, have your own dance party, or that thing called exercise. I was beyond thrilled to see that Years & Years recently released this song, because it has been far too long since they’ve released new music. Olly Alexander was more so recently focused on acting and just starred in the latest Russell T Davies project, It’s a Sin. Which, if you haven’t seen yet – it’s a 5 episode miniseries focused on the AIDS crisis in the UK during the 80s and 90s within the view of 5 characters’ eyes. Highly recommended and available on HBO max. 

To the Class Of – Bleed the Rads (explicit)

I recently discovered this song when watching the romantic comedy Almost Love on Netflix (yes also go watch this lighthearted movie starring some spectacular underrated actors). The lyrics and composition of the song reminded me of a lot of music that I grew up on. I’m a sucker for nostalgia in the form of music, especially when I’m in a rut of sorts about where I am going in life. 

Obsessed – Mariah Carey

There’s just something about that opening line, “and I was like..why are you so obsessed with me” that has felt more appealing to say recently. Even when I’m not saying it to anyone and I’m sitting in a room by myself (okay…maybe all of this alone time during the pandemic has gotten to me). But also, I would never say that to anyone other than my good friends in a sarcastic tone. Anyway – this song is a forever bop.

Fight the Power Pts 1 & 2 – The Isley Brothers

Verzus recently had The Isley Brothers vs. Earth, Wind, and Fire and like..WOW four hours of legends ..it was totally worth staying up way past my bedtime to witness. Anyway, I was texting my Dad during it because I was introduced to both of these bands through him growing up. His response was to send me multiple different videos of some of his favorites. This was one of them.

Forget Me Nots – Patrice Rushen 

This is another song that I like to put on when I’m cooking or dancing in my apartment by myself. The kind of song that when it comes on is just an instant mood booster – I have a deep appreciation for songs that have the power to do that. Clearly it was such a hit that it was replicated for the Men in Black theme song in 1997. 

Can We Hang On – Cold War Kids

There will always be artists or songs that remind us of certain people in our lives both past and present. I’ve been revisiting this song and thinking about where I was when I first heard it. How different I am now and the new meanings these lyrics have taken on for me. The power of music is incredibly beautiful. 

So, there you have it – add a few, add ‘em all, or don’t add any. A good friend of mine often tells me you should only do what you want to do. I’m merely here to suggest music and share with you my thoughts and reflections to hope it’s entertaining enough that you keep on reading. 

Happy listening folks!

For Your Listening Pleasure: Recently Released 04/02/2021

By Tray Taylor
@allusiontoreality

I have an appreciation for reviewing and sharing songs that I have been listening to on repeat or just songs for the season- aka my infamous Happy Holigays playlist. Today, I think it is time to share and review some new songs that recently dropped that I think you need to add to your latest playlist, if you haven’t already. 

As much as I love reviewing and suggesting songs from throughout the decades and genres – I believe sharing recently released music to recommend is just as important (coming from a person that loves music and being introduced to new music). 

Some of these songs might be ones you have heard about recently, and others never before. Either way, enjoy:

Dancing with the Devil – Demi Lovato

I have been overly excited for the album to drop after hearing this single last week. This woman blows me away with her voice and her talent EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Overall the entire album deserves a listen, but I chose this song because it is what pulled me in. 

Recommend the entire album, but here are some standouts: Butterfly, Anyone, Met Him Last Night

Montero (Call Me By Your Name) – Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X just keeps giving us the music we don’t deserve but absolutely need in our lives. A true Queer anthem with a backstory that will warm your heart (as long as you aren’t one of those people that have been passive aggressive with your homophobia over the video). I couldn’t get this song out of my head for two days straight…and now since I am writing this blurb it’ll probably get stuck in my head again for a few more days.

I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) [Nicolaas Remix] – Hall and Oates

There’s no hiding it, I am a sucker for a remix version of a song when it is done well. And it is the right kind of song that can be remixed. This falls into that category for me. The song is already catchy, but with this Nicolaas remix it’ll have you turning up your volume so high that you’ll forget there are other people in the room that then tell you to turn it down (…or maybe that was just me…) 

Amir – Serpentwithfeet

The first time I discovered serpentwithfeet was watching the music video to Same Size Shoe which I loved. Listening to this album in its entirety though, Amir was the standout song for me. Serpentwithfeet is unlike anything I have ever listened to, which is a fantastic thing because it feels original and unique.
Also listen to: Fellowship, Same Size Shoe (and watch the music video)

Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen Cover)- Waxahatchee

Some people have strong opinions on cover songs. I would consider myself to fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. Sometimes I have strong opinions on songs that shouldn’t be covered, and sometimes I think the cover of the original is much much better. This is one of those cases where I think the cover is better than the original.

What’s Wrong- half alive

Certain songs remind me of different times in my life and hearing this song instantly transported me back to a spring day in Philadelphia. I haven’t listened to half-alive in awhile- and was excited to see a new song drop. If you enjoy indie, alternative music…give this song a listen.

Live & Direct – Kota the Friend, Statik Selektah

There are few things I love more than discovering a new artist and falling in love with their art instantly. This album provided me with that satisfactory moment. Kota the Friend is a lyricist, a poet …so smooth with his delivery. Listening to every song feels like an experience, which made it hard to pick one or just a few songs.
Also take a listen to: Sunrise, Wolves

What better way to start your weekend …or for those in the service industry your work week...than adding a few of these songs to your playlist?

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.

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.