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May 14, 2019

John Glynn's Playlist for His Memoir "Out East"

Out East

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Lauren Groff, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Andrew Sean Greer, and many others.

John Glynn's memoir Out East captures the spirit of youth and self-discovery.

The Millions wrote of the book:

"Sun-soaked and brimming with youth, Glynn's debut memoir chronicles a life-changing summer spent in a Montauk share house. With honesty, heart, and generosity, the memoir explores friendship, first love, and identity."

In his own words, here is John Glynn's Book Notes music playlist for his memoir Out East:

Out East is the story of The Hive, a Montauk summer house I shared with 31 other people. I was 27 at the time, and plagued by crippling self-doubt. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, I fell in love with a guy for the first time. As I grappled with my identity, my housemates became my family. All of us sought music to crystallize our emotions.

My clickwheel iPod played a crucial role in the creative process for Out East. Its playlists form a card catalog of my life from my early 20s through today, the perfect conduit to memory. When I listened to my playlist from summer 2013, I was instantly transported back to the Hive, to gutting euphoria of first love and the intensity of my friendships that summer. Some of these songs appear in the book at pivotal junctures. All of them come from the original Montauk 2013 playlist on my iPod.

“Jubel” by Klingande

This song feels like magic hour on the beach—the moment when afternoon curls into evening, the crowds thin, and the light shifts. Sometimes my housemates and I would linger nearly until sunset, a group of ten or fifteen of us on a patchwork of beach towels. “Jubel” reminds me of the communal energy that wove through our friend group on those perfect summer evenings.

“ID (Wake Me Up)” by Avicii

Every portable beach speaker in Montauk was playing this song in summer 2013. It was a Hive anthem. We’d dance to it in our kitchen, stomp our feet, sing along. Then we’d cram into our friend Henry’s taxi van and let the night unfold. When Avicii died we mourned not only for him, but for a simpler moment in our lives.

“Do Ya Thang” by Rihanna

The guy I fell in love with in Montauk loved this song. I remember the first time he played it for me. It feels serene and youthful, and I picture it painted in hues of pink and purple. The lyrics describe an expansive type of coupledom, a recognition of a partner’s true nature. It reminds me of the starry nights the two of us spent together on the roof of the Hive, passing an AUX cord back and forth, speaking to each other through music.

“Hurricane” by MSMR

Our favorite song from summer 2013 was the CHVRCHES remix of this song. The original featured here is morose and dramatic, but the remix is effervescent and sun-blasted. It contorts pain into euphoria. Together the two versions capture the pendulum effect of life in our house, and the two competing narratives of first love.

“Second Summer (RAC Remix)” by Yacht

By the time I joined The Hive, it was already a fully established ecosystem, a house with rules and rituals and a language I learned through osmosis. Many of the housemates that summer were returning members. It was their second summer, and this song captured the layered nature of their experience.

“22” by Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift pulls off the most crucial trick of memoir—she taps into the universal through the specific. This was the song that was playing when we first pulled up to The Hive on the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend.

“Pompeii” by Bastille

As I grappled with my sexuality, my biggest fear was that my emerging identity would irrevocably change my relationships with friends and family. The lyrics of this song spoke to me: “if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all.” As I fell in love, I felt like I’d tapped into my most authentic self. But I prayed that, if I came out, nothing would change.

“The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES

Out East is laced with flashbacks to my childhood in western Massachusetts. I grew up surrounded by a loving brood of cousins who were more like siblings. My grandmother Kicki was our matriarch. I think of her, my mom and my aunts, when I hear this song.

“Clarity” by Zedd

This song was a summer banger, but the lyrics also gets at the paradox of first love—how sometimes one person can be both the source of all your emotional anguish but also the only one who can alleviate it.

“Masquerade” by Nicki Minaj

The chorus of this song was meant to be sung drunk, at 2 am, around a kitchen island.

John Glynn and Out East links:

the author's website

Booklist review
Lambda Literary review
The Millions review
New York Journal of Books review
PopSugar review

Newsday interview with the author

also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
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Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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