Hey there 👋

I had everything planned out for this playlist. I was flying back home to Taiwan with my girlfriend on the early morning of the 24th and had downloaded a cache of music for offline listening so that I could plan out the songs I would choose for this month’s curation and recommendations. After a month of jumping through hoop after hoop to acquire what’s called a “special entry visa” for anyone without a Taiwanese passport, I was finally just a 7,801-mile plane ride away from seeing my family.

At the airport, we walked to a specially demarcated path formed by stanchions aside from the usual check-in counters. An agent came over to us and requested to see our passports and travel documents. Although my girlfriend did not require one as a Taiwanese passport holder, I, with my “special entry visa” status, was expected to furnish a negative COVID test dated within the past 3 days. The morning of, we had waited together in line for almost 5 hours to take and receive our Rapid Test results. After examining the negative results we both received for a good five minutes, I was given the bad news by the agent that the type of test we took wasn’t compliant with CDC guidelines and therefore could not be accepted per my “special entry visa” status.

Everything was a blur from that moment on. We barely had time to talk after or even to properly say goodbye at the airport. Logically, it made sense that my girlfriend should take the flight as planned as she was able to check in and had a quarantine hotel and pick-up car already arranged; yet, emotionally I was shaken to my core at the thought of this thorough planning unraveling before my eyes. At the end of it all, I found myself alone in an empty wing of Terminal 1 in JFK. Twice, airport employees had come over to remind me that the airport was closing, only one of them extending a more sympathetic approach when he noticed my tear-stained and emotional appearance. I sat with my one backpack and two suitcases, still stunned and way too emotionally overwhelmed to process the series of events that had transpired.

The only thing left to do was to call an Uber home.

Theme of this Month:
🚕 Uber Ride Home

On the Uber ride home, I was an absolute mess. Still overwhelmed with emotion, the thought of not being home and not traveling with my girlfriend after so much anticipation was enough to make me tear up in the backseat. I was grateful for the darkness at 1am that enshrouded me and provided just the slightest of privacy from the driver at that moment. I was even more grateful that the driver was silent the entire drive Instead, there was just music. It took me a second before realizing that he was not playing Top 40s or rap or any of the music fare you’d hear on your average Uber ride. They were songs I have never heard in my life and would never expect to see on any of Spotify’s playlists nor be algorithmically recommended to me; they had me completely hypnotized. Two songs in particular had imbued the atmosphere around me with such a sense of calm that they immediately transported me away from the low place I had sunk to and made me feel better. When I finally arrived back at my apartment, I politely asked him for the song names and made sure I tipped him directly on the app as he drove away.

For this month’s playlist, I took two songs in particular I’d heard on the Uber ride home that evoke the varied layers of emotions I was feeling that night and created an entire playlist around them. Bookended by my recent revelations, I started the playlist with the first song I heard called “Shh” by Blank & Jones and ended it with the second, “Malaguena Fantasia” by Stevan Pasero & Richard Patterson. My ultimate hope is that by allowing yourself to listen to the 25 songs curated to be listened to in order, you may also find yourself transported to a better and happier place during this wonderful albeit hectic holiday season which as we know, is anything but conventional this year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Listen now!

I hope you enjoyed this!

I'll be back next month on the 25th with a newly curated playlist on Spotify. If you're getting value out of this newsletter consider sharing it on Twitter!

- Andrew Tsao

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