A playlist about Home: 50 songs of longing and belonging

Home is such an elusive word. It can mean something different to everyone saying it. I feel like I have been pursuing it for some time now, trying to define it.

Is it a place? Is it a feeling? Is it the people we love? It may well be all of these and more.

A while ago I heard a song and liked it. Enough to save it to replay at a later date. Over the months I heard some more melodies and added them to the list. It wasn’t until some time later, when I had quite the collection, that I discovered a bit of a theme going on: they all mentioned home. 

It wasn’t intentional at first. It just felt like this concept kept popping up everywhere. A random line would resonate, a chorus would stick. So I decided to compile them all into a playlist and, as time went on, I added any title that spoke to this concept. 

I guess I’ve been exploring this idea for a while. I would be quick to recognize its themes in poetry, story or film. It’s one of those things where once you start seeing it in one place, you are more aware of it everywhere else. 

So I decided to dig deeper, went back to my playlist, and took a second look at the lyrics. There I was surprised to find familiar sentiments in random verses. 

For anyone with a mobile background or those accustomed to a life in more than one place, the topics of longing, absence, searching, returning, belonging, and more will likely be familiar.

Even though the lyrics often referenced romance, the words spoke to me of a life lived between worlds, in multiple places, seeking and finding home wherever I might be.

How many times have you felt lost when you land in a foreign country? “I don’t know for how long I’ll stay, I am lost and I need to find my place” sings Morgan on one track.

Or maybe your current location just leaves you feeling confused. Sam Feldt, in Home Sweet Home, seems to get it when declaring “I’ve been a million different places | Don’t know how I made it here.” 

Sometimes perhaps your surroundings are completely alien to you, even in your passport country. “These ain’t my people, ain’t my crew, it ain’t my planet | These humans speak my language, still don’t understand it” goes the melody by Madison Beer.

“Another aeroplane, another sunny place. I’m lucky, I know, but I wanna go home.” Michael Bublé is singing about lost love, but it could well be a TCK missing one of the places they lived before.

And as your time in a certain country or town comes to an end, you might feel like Dua Lipa, “It’s a bittersweet feeling | Longing, and I’m leaving.”

These lyrics by Martin Garrix “Home, take me home | Back to my roots, yeah, it’s been so long | Hey, I found a way | Back to the streets where they know my name | You know I’ve been all around, all around…”, sound to me like furlough, repatriation or perhaps even returning to a host country after some time away. 

If you believe  home is a building, Gabrielle Aplin might disagree “It’s not just where you lay your head, it’s not just where you make your bed,” she sings.

However, The Cinematic Orchestra claims a home can be built in the aptly named To build a home. Ben Harper and Ellen Harper declare “A House is a home, even when…” things aren’t perfect for various reasons. And Jack Johnson says “I’ve gotta get home, there’s a garden to tend,” which conjures up a rather traditional cottage image in my mind, falling easily into the building category. 

Then again, what is a house when the people you care about aren’t there? “Is a house really a home when your loved ones is gone?” asks a line in Coming Home by Diddy – Dirty Money, Skyler Grey.

Perhaps you think less of a place when you think of home. For many people family is one of the first ideas we associate with home. “Home is wherever I’m with you’” as the song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros goes. 

Phillip Phillips would suggest home is not a place to be by oneself, because the listener should “Just know you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna make this place your home.” 

Perhaps home is a place to be oneself instead, a place to fit right in, as suggested by Hollow Coves, “Take me home, back to the place where I belong”.

Whatever home means to you, I’m sure as a fellow in-betweener you’ll know we do a pretty good job at making ourselves at home wherever we happen to be. Whether that’s crashing at a friend’s place for a week, living abroad for six months, or permanently residing in a particular place, home is what we make of it.

And you know what? I think Jack Johnson agrees, because: “Home is wherever we are if there’s love here too.”

What does home look or feel like to you? Have a listen to the playlist and tell me which lyrics speak most to you.

50 songs about home


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