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The Playlist Gift

Updated: May 3, 2021

A couple of summers ago, whilst saving up to go travelling, I found myself very short of cash. Outside of paying the bills, the majority of any remaining money from work and selling my stuff was locked into a bank account that was allocated for flights, accommodation, visas, injections and all sorts of travel related expenses. I had to make sacrifices and anything that was outside of the general day to day living had to be put off, this included contributing to birthdays and other celebrations around that time, like fathers day. I was very conscious however that I treated my mum to some theatre tickets for her birthday and Mother's Day and my Dad’s birthday falls on Christmas day so with all the excitement and stresses of the festive period, he sometimes gets forgotten about.

Knowing that I wasn’t going to be around for his birthday later in the year, I had to get a bit creative with gifting him something that he would enjoy.

He is a massive music fan and his vinyl collection is off the charts (sorry for the pun). I ran the simple idea of creating a playlist past a few people and they all said it was a good concept so I went with it. The task was to build a playlist on Spotify with my Dad consisting of his favourite tracks growing up, allowing him to take some time out of his busy day to reflect back on songs that shaped his youth. He would then be able to share that to his facebook friends and they can all reminise together. It’s something I knew he would enjoy doing and it was also cost effective for me!

We ended up focusing on the 60s and the songs he bought on vinyl after hearing soul music on pirate radio as a teenager. My initial thoughts were that he could fall back in love with his vinyls as I knew they were in the loft somewhere, those old dusty records stuck up in this suburban alladins cave. A super exclusive museum that nobody could get tickets to. As a child I was always intrigued by the loft and the mysterious belongings it held. Being scared of heights, I used to only climb half way up those rickety stairs to the upper echelons of the house, fearful that I would fall 7 feet to my death. Dad would usually lead the way, being the only person who could truly manipulate the hatch, stairs and light all in one smooth operation. Every single time without fail, he would curse the volume of stuff up there and how he couldn't find this or that. ‘I dont know why she keeps this stuff’ would be a regular complaint.

This still happens now.

At times, my mum would send him up there to retrieve something that she needed for that afternoons baking session or to support with tending to the garden. She wouldn’t go up there either and I actually dont think shes ever scaled those steps. She would however project manage Dad’s efforts from basecamp, he would shout down and report about his failed attempts to retrieve whatever it was she had requested and she would of course guide him knowing exactly where the thing was and in exactly which carrier bag she would have left it in, irrelevant of having never been up there.

Because of all the stuff stored in the loft (we’ll get back to this in another article) there was no desire for him to ascend the steps and sit up there in the boiling heat crate digging, so we had to approach curating this list in a less physical way. He consumes music differently now so it was easier for him to use youtube to find a song that he wanted to add to his playlist. It was time for him to think back and dig deep into his memory to the sounds of yesteryear and pull out his top 10 soul classics.

Picking the first two tracks were pretty straight forward, he highlighted those straight away but then he hit the wall. As all true music fans face when playlistsing, the dilemma of choice.


Overall, it took about 4-5 days of me bothering him but as gifts go its not something he can unwrap, wear or watch but it was an experience and an excuse to go back and use his favourite music, that he may have forgotten about, to evoke memories and stories. Who knows what it could have triggered in him and others.

As i shared this playlist, some of the comments made me realise that it wasn't just a gift for him…

‘Oh what memories, fantastic father's day gift for us all! Loved it. All of it, my kind of music’

‘Chris, what a brilliant idea this is’

If you are looking for an experience gift, maybe give this a go and see where it takes you. Anyway, i bet you want know what songs made the cut…


1. Darrell Banks ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’