Just Press Play

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting millions of people’s lives in unprecedented ways, PEN America’s World Voices Festival launches a new playlist series with songs selected by some of our favorite authors from around the world.

Every week, Just Press Play brings the soundtracks of poets and novelists’ writing lives into homes and offices everywhere. From the balconies of Milan to the speakers of our smartphones, these playlists remind us all that music, like books, can connect humanity from a distance.

Jennifer Finney Boylan

This week, Jennifer Finney Boylan, whose new memoir, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs, is out now, offers a playlist that reminds her of a blissful past and a hopeful future:  

“My playlist for the PEN World Voices Festival features mostly Irish musicians, some of whom I knew during the days I lived in Cork. These days of being inside have my heart winging toward a place where I was profoundly happy. I long to return there. My wife and I have talked of moving back to Ireland if everything goes south in the United States this November. Of course, even leaving the house is virtually impossible at present, so this dream is now remote. But the more elusive this dream becomes, the more it sustains me.

“The ‘single’ you asked for is Oige’s ‘The Flower of Magherallyo.’ It’s almost otherworldly—an eeriness made more acute by then-17-year-old Cara Dillon’s voice. It’s like a song from a dream, a dream of a better world I hope we can all wake up into:

I hope the day will surely come when we’ll join hands together-o
‘Tis then I’ll bring my darling home in spite of wind or weather-o
And let them all say what they will and let them reel and rally-o
For I shall wed the girl I love, the flower of Magherallyo.”

Check out her playlist on Spotify and YouTube today, and grab her memoir, Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs, on Bookshop or Amazon.

Jennifer’s Favorite: “The Flower of Magherallyo” from Oige

About Jennifer Finney Boylan

Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of 15 books, is the inaugural Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University. Her column “Men & Women” appears on the op-ed page of The New York Times on alternate Wednesdays. She serves on the Board of Trustees of PEN America. From 2011 to 2018, she served on the Board of Directors of GLAAD and also provided counsel for the TV series Transparent and I Am Cait. Her 2003 memoir, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first best-selling work by a transgender American. A novelist, memoirist, and short story writer, she is also a nationally recognized advocate for human rights. She lives in New York City and in Belgrade Lakes, Maine, with her wife, Deedie. They have a son, Sean, and a daughter, Zai.

Join us next week for a playlist from Emily Raboteau, the author of Searching for Zion and essayist who has spent the last year writing exclusively about the climate crisis.