Songs That Bend Time: A Musical Time Machine For 2019

Dec 18, 2019
Originally published on December 18, 2019 11:48 am

In a culture infatuated with the idea of bending time, music lovers may not often consider that such miracles happen constantly in the course of everyday listening. Your life may not literally loop the way Nadia Vulvokov's did in Russian Doll, or toddle from past to present to future like Angela Abar's in Watchmen. But did you ever make a playlist that segues from Lizzo to Stevie Wonder? Have you whiled away an evening watching One Direction's Harry Styles evolve into the high pants heartthrob he is today? Did that sample in "Old Town Road" have you turning up the vintage Reznor? Congratulations, Outlander. Culture always builds upon itself, but now, it's possible to make historical connections with the touch of a hand on a phone.

Year-end compendia haven't yet adapted to acknowledge the flat-circle nature of music listening in the streaming era. Perhaps "best" lists shouldn't be limited to new releases, instead also reaching back toward the music that remains foundational and inspirational today. Here's my effort: a list of 50 notable songs released in 2019, juxtaposed with older ones that, to my ears, connect sonically or spiritually to them. Think of it as one big "RIYL" to wrap up the year. Enjoy the connections; allow them to lead you further into corners of the past, where the seedlings of the present grow, ever green.

Listen to the RIYL 2019 playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.


"Legacies" by Nikki Giovanni (1976)

"GIOVANNI" by Jamila Woods (2019)
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"When You're Near" by Guru featuring N'Dea Davenport (1993)

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"Still Tryin'" by Jazzmeia Horn (2019)
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"Shiny Stockings" by Jon Hendricks (1972)

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"Don't Know How To Keep Loving You" by Julia Jacklin (2019)
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"I Need You" by Eurythmics (1987)

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"Pacolet Road" by Adia Victoria (2019)
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"Preaching the Blues" by The Gun Club (1981)

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"Pais Nublado" by Helado Negro (2019)
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"Onde Andaras" by Caetano Veloso (1968)

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"This Land" by Gary Clark Jr. (2019)
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"F*** Tha Police" by N.W.A. (1988)

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"It Ain't Easier" by Yola (2019)
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"Dreamsome" by Shelby Lynne (1999)

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"One Man Band" by Old Dominion (2019)
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"Tiny Dancer" by Elton John (1971)

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"Damn" by Aldous Harding (2019)
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"No One Is There" by Nico (1968)

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"Take The Journey" by Molly Tuttle (2019)
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"Cattle In The Cane" by Norman Blake (1972)

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"Watching Telly" by Stella Donnelly (2019)
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"22" by Lily Allen (2009) 

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"All My Happiness Is Gone" by Purple Mountains (2019)
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"I Melt With You" by Modern English (1982)

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"Mississippi" by Kevin Abstract (2019)
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"Blackbird" by Dionne Farris (1994)

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"Soon You'll Get Better" by Taylor Swift (feat. Dixie Chicks) (2019)
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"Casimir Pulaski Day" by Sufjan Stevens (2005)

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"Obamacare" by Quelle Chris (2019)
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"Recollections of the wraith" by Shabazz Palaces (2011)

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"Borderline" by Baby Rose (2019)
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"Bless the Telephone" by Labi Siffre (1971)

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"Everyday" by Weyes Blood (2019)
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"Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles (1967)

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"Mini Was a Preteen Arsonist" by Martha (2019)
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"Slack M***********" by Superchunk (1990)

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"Boys in the Better Land" by FONTAINES D.C. (2019)
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"Modern World" by The Modern Lovers (1976)

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"Brown Baby" by Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi
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"Afro-Blue" by Oscar Brown, Jr. (1960)

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"The Right Track" by Mary Bragg (2019)
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"Sleeping In Paris" by Rosanne Cash (1993)

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"Chesapeake" by Better Oblivion Community Center (2019)
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"Can't Hardly Wait" by The Replacements (1987)

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"Believe These Blues" by Christone "Kingfish" Ingram (2019)
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"Five Long Years" by Buddy Guy (1991)

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"More Hearts Than Mine" by Ingrid Andress (2019)
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"Sometimes" by Holly Williams (2001)

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"Jubilee" by Jake Xerxes Fussell (2019)
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"Hang Me, Oh Hang Me" by Dave Van Ronk (1963)

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"I Get No Joy" by Jade Bird (2019)
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"Joy" by Lucinda Williams (1998)

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"Not" by Big Thief (2019)
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"Colder" by Throwing Muses (1988)

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"Room Temperature" by Faye Webster (2019)
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"The Paris Match" by The Style Council feat. Tracey Thorn (1984)

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"Blue Roses" by Runaway June (2019)
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"Easy Silence" by Dixie Chicks (2006)

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"Jerome" by Lizzo (2019)
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"Young Man, Older Woman " by Millie Jackson (1991) 

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"Iguana" by INNA (2019)
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"Un Sueño" by Ceci Bastida feat. Aloe Blacc (2016)

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"Coming Down" by Gena Rose Bruce (2019)
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"Five String Serenade" by Mazzy Star (1993)

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"Bossa No Sé" by Cuco feat. Jean Carter (2019)
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"The New Pollution" by Beck (1996)

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"Roller Rink" by Mellotron Variations (2019)
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"Out Of The Blue" by Roxy Music (1974)

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"Frontier" by Holly Herndon (2019)
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"Pagan Poetry" by Bjork (2001)

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"I Own The Night" by Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah feat. Saul Williams (2019)
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"All In The Street" by Amiri Baraka (1972)

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"The Daughters" by Little Big Town (2019)
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"Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)

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"The Dreamer" by Che Apalache (2019)
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"The Mountain" by Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band (1999)

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"Yemayá" by Daymé Arocena (2019)
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"Oru de Igbodú para Yemayá: Elegguá" by Conjunto de Tambores Batá de Amado Diaz Alfonso (1984)

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"Something Keeps Calling" by Raphael Saadiq feat. Rob Bacon (2019)
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"Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away" by Stevie Wonder (1974)

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"Lo/Hi" by The Black Keys (2019)
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"Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse (1969)

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"Ever Lovin' Hand" by Tyler Childers (2019)
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"Strokin'" by Clarence Carter (1986)

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"Dogwood" by Jenny Lewis (2019)
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"Does He Love You" by Rilo Kiley (2004)

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"Drive Fast (The Stuntman)" by Bruce Springsteen (2019)
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"Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" by Danny O'Keefe (1972)

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"hand solo" by Marika Hackman (2019)
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"She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper (1984)

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"Can I Go On" by Sleater-Kinney (2019)
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"Fading Fast" by The Go-Go's (1981)

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"Just To Keep You Satisfied" by Philip Bailey (2019)
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"If I Should Die Tonight" by Marvin Gaye (1973)

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"The Ties That Bind" by Allison Moorer (2019)
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"I'm OK" by Christina Aguilera (2002)

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"Watermelon Sugar" by Harry Styles (2019)
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"Sulky Girl" by Robert Palmer (1980)

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"Slide Away" by Miley Cyrus (2019)
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"Drift Away" by Dobie Gray (1973)

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