“It doesn’t get any better than this,” you whisper into your Solo cup. You won’t be saying this during Logic, but at any other point over our weeklong weekend, the refrain may dance across your lips. 

Rites of passage, even vomiting after a beer mile, lend themselves to such thinking. First comes the warm blush of camaraderie (or is that the Natty?), then the icy clench of terror (no, that’s the Natty).

That the best four years of our lives is happening this very instant is the arrogant claim of youth, our burden and our freedom. The question “what if this is it?” gives way to “what better way to spend life than embracing who we are, a cavalcade of preening post-adolescents?”

Crises of unearned nostalgia aside, consider Ivies an analogy for college: suspension in a state of liminal sublime. Dazed and confused, agonized and ecstatic, Apollonian and Dionysian, high and imbibed, we are everything all the time in the threshold of existence. It is either the worst state to capture the moment, or the best.

Whatever we’re lusting after—or fleeing to—let’s do it to music. Instead of curating the songs of the year appropriate for an Ivies playlist, I have culled my picks for the best Ivies playlist of all time. 

These songs encapsulate, if not necessarily replicate, the feeling of youth lost and won. Most of them are about drinking, some of them veer towards celebration and others towards resignation, but all them toe the same line as we do: between hedonism and nihilism.

Mark Kozelek will obviously accuse me of selling out to “beer commercial lead guitar shit,” to which I’ll gesture toward my Fender and PBR. We are half formed, maybe, but brimming with life nonetheless.

“The Night of Wine and Roses” by Japandroids

This is the sound of a pregame condensed into four minutes, complete with fireworks, melt-your-face drumming and a raucous chorus. If you can shout “woah oh oh” then you can sing along. It comes from an album called “Celebration Rock” (which contains a song called “For the Love of Ivy,” another contender), so lyrics about “downing drinks in a funnel of friends” and “burning our blunts down the end” feel inevitable and appropriate. But really, it’s the opening lines that carry this song to greatness: “Don’t we have anything to live for? / Well of course we do, but until they come true, we’re drinking.”

“This Heart’s on Fire” by Wolf Parade

Japandroids’ fellow Canadians bring us to the dance floor, and command that we leave everything we’ve got on it. Sometimes, it’s the brute force of a hook that sets our souls aflame, and sometimes it’s the friction of sparking libidos. Learn to live on fire, and we’ll burn together. In between the sweat and the tears, maybe we’ll believe the chorus that proclaims, “it’s getting better all the time.”

“First Night” by The Hold Steady

Really any song from these barfly troubadours could have sufficed. There’s “Party Pit,” about a staggering college student (or maybe I’m projecting) who recounts meeting a girl in the mosh pit and boasts “I’m pretty sure we kissed” but ultimately resolves to “walk around and drink some more.” Or “Stuck Between Stations,” about the horror-guised-as-boredom of youthful drinking culture.
But neither can compare to the poignancy of a piano ballad about Holly, who’s “not invincible / In fact she’s in the hospital,” and both “inconsolable” and “uncontrollable,” all because “we can’t get as high as we got...on that first night.” We’ll play it as we contemplate our own decay after dusk, cigarettes in our hands.

“The City” by The Dismemberment Plan

Five years before Kelly Clarkson, Travis Morrison shouted “since you been gone” from his rooftop and into the empty streets of some desperate city. “You” probably refers to a partner, but it may as well be Morrison, trying to figure it all out, but never quite feeling himself in his own skin. The scene he describes from his haunted perch sounds like the post-Ivies devastation of campus: barren and silent, even as “something seems to happen somewhere else.” 
After a night of recklessness or restlessness, we might also turn inward for refuge. And, like Morrison, we’ll be “not unsympathetic” to those of us who’ve left the city, striking out for elsewhere. 
It’s the collapsing of choice and necessity, a bittersweet refrain as we close the door and exit this threshold of our lives: “all I ever say now is goodbye.”