Lauren Francisco is serving a year in South Africa with Mennonite Mission Network. She blogs for The Mennonite.
At least once a month, we post a new playlist featuring someone’s top 10 most important songs and their rationale for selecting said songs. Read about Lauren’s picks and be sure to scroll down to listen to her original playlist, too!
1. “Treasure,” Above & Beyond: “Treasure is measured in units of love, which means you may find you are rich beyond your wildest dreams.” The dance music scene has been a crucial part of my life for about a decade now. People uniting on the dance floor, dancing away their demons, leaving their burdens outside, and living life in the moment and not through the lens of a camera. Trivialities and worries disappearing, joy and surrendering appearing: We find peace here. At the end of Above & Beyond’s electric dance-filled nights, the boys usually end their set with “Treasure.” Friends and strangers forming circles in the crowd, singing these lyrics to each other, placing their hands on their hearts, and feeling how the richness of the moment makes our hearts beat faster. Calm, loved, full of treasure: We’re rich beyond our wildest dreams.
2. “Eyes,” Kaskade: Baltimore, Maryland, 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I road trip with my best friends from college to see my favorite artist, Kaskade, play a sold out arena show. Sweating and nearly dizzy I enter the arena. The curtains drop, the lights dim and the opening song begins. A coolness comes over my body and chills form on my arm. One of the best moments of my life happening in this moment. “Eyes” begins and my friends and I hug each other, telling each other how much we love our friendship, our moment, our connection. This is LOVE. “You and I could paint the sky together. As the world goes by, we’ll go on forever.”
3. “We’re All We Need,” Above & Beyond: In a world full of uncertainty, we have days where we question why we exist, what we’re here for, who loves us, and who we love. Clinging to things, we can sometimes drown in our sorrows and quest for more. I was standing alone at an Above & Beyond concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Thousands of people were roaring for the music to begin. The first chord strikes as this song debuts for the first time, and my heart sinks. I see my name flash quickly across the screen. I look around and see people of all religions, all ages, and all beliefs singing, surrendering, and holding hands. This is what I need. This is what I needed. We’re all we need. Music unites us all, and just as the lyrics in this song state, “No matter now if the compass fails again, ’cause in your love, I built a home.” Home, love, serenity. These are not found in what we attain, what we do, and where we go. They’re in us.
4. “Control,” Mutemath: Everyone surrenders to something or someone. To me, it’s always been the music. It’s always been faith. I can’t comprehend, nor can I put into words the feelings I feel, the peace I have, and the love that surrounds me, and that’s what makes the surrender so beautiful. I give full control to what I can’t comprehend, yet it never lets me down. I surrender all. “There is no better loss than to lose myself in you. In a parachute to glide, I am captive in your sky. Surrender has somehow become so beautiful. Take control of the atmosphere.”
5. “Portal,” Lights: I’ve always considered Lights a friend. She’s an artist I came across in the MySpace days. I would travel to see her play little small shows with a handful of people, and now she sells out the most famous of venues. She was always willing to chat before and after shows. Jokingly throughout the years I would tell her, “We were once kids acting like adults, and now we’re adults acting like kids.” Through high school, college, grad school, and beyond, both she and her music have been there. Once again, Portal is a song that I can surrender to. I feel myself sinking into a greater understanding with the captivating lyrics and steady beat that actually came as a result of her patting on her pregnant belly.
“Nothing is sacred, and nothing is sure anymore…except all that you are and stand for.”
6. “Hey Now,” London Grammar: My earliest memory is writing in my diary on my bunk bed as a child, clinging to my Aladdin comforter and sheets, and dreaming of where I am today. It’s frightening how quickly time can go. It’s odd how emotions that were so strong as a child are now left on a page and they’re withered away somewhere. What seems so far-fetched, so impossible to escape, and so wild to imagine, can and will happen. Write it, believe it, claim it. The first time I heard this song, those memories haunted me. It also reminded me how dangerously powerful we are as human beings. It reminded me how I can write out the screenplay to my life, if it’s accompanied with passion, works, and belief. Nothing is impossible.
7. “Dream,” Priscilla Ahn: I usually start and end my days the same way: writing and playing guitar. I’m a dreamer, by day and by night. I know the power of a dream accompanied with fiery passion. It’s why I write. I like to see the journey I’ve taken, the promises I’ve kept, the growth I’ve documented. Sometimes I look back and I am amazed by the quickness of life. This song captures just how swiftly life moves. Dreaming as a child, dreaming as an adult, dreaming towards the end of life. No matter our age, dreams never die, nor should they. Live a full life. Make as many dreams come true as you possibly can.
8. “To Build A Home,” Cinematic Orchestra (Ft. Patrick Watson): Driving up the Shenandoah mountains, as I used to do most weekends when I was back in the States, I would press play on this song and sit still, looking towards the incredibly picturesque view of the mountains before me. Here, in South Africa, I am reminded of how miraculous creation is. Here I see that no man could have ever created something so majestic. What could I create? What could I do? How could I not live this life in vain? How could I honor the Creator? I can build upon this foundation. Here, near these majestic views, I will one day build a home. This place will serve as a reminder of my Creator.
9. “So Good To Me,” Chris Malinchak: It’s simple. Life is sweet because I am loved.
10. “It’s You, It’s Me,” Kaskade: Dancing while getting dressed, dancing while driving, dancing while cooking, dancing while crying: I’ve done it all to this song. Nothing or no one makes my soul soar as much as music. It’s my escape. It’s my portal to a greater dimension, a greater love, a greater high, a greater day.