Playlist For A Pandemic

Confession time. I can’t watch movies, they are too long. I haven’t been to an adult movie in a theater for nearly 20 years and a kid movie for at least ten. I’m glad they exist and people get such joy out of them, but I’d rather just hear about the movie from people that went. That I love. But a movie, not so much. 

That doesn’t go so well with the whole “social distancing” stay at home and hang out thing. So what does a movie inept person do when you are supposed to starve yourself from people? My big hook is music. I listen to music constantly and can waste more time than I’d like to admit exploring different songs and music groups. 

So for people who are movie averse, like me, or even if you are looking for something a little different while spending quality time at home, here are some songs and musicians that you can get to know. The list is highly eclectic like nearly everything about me, so you should be able to find something you like. I’ve also made it into a Spotify playlist, peppered with some old favorites that you might be singing to yourself right now, the playlist is called “Music in the Time of COVID19.”

1. “Tomorrow” Shakey Graves. The last show I went to was Shakey Graves at Levon Helms Studio and I wasn’t sure I could love him more, but even a blown-out tire in the middle of nowhere couldn’t ruin that night. There’s something about this song that just speaks to your soul. When he spoke about writing the song, he said that he wrote it over several years and after several lessons about love and that as he got older, it’s come to mean different things. There’s lyrics in this song that hit me differently each time I listen and right now, thinking about life and time seems the perfect way to occupy oneself. And yes, in the video, that is a suitcase that he’s turned into a drum that he’s playing with his feet. You can’t not adore him.

2. “Parlor” Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. As a little gift of hope to all of us, I am including a few artists who are supposed to perform locally. Let’s hope that we all have the chance to see them on July 9 at SPAC. I have loved Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats for years, there is a comfort to their music like you’ve been listening to them your whole life even if it’s the first time you’ve heard them. This song is perfect for right now because it’s a great reminder that you can have a ton of fun right in your own home. 

3. “Empress” Morningsiders. I feel like Morningsiders make music for geeks in the best possible way. They are like Mumford and Son’s dorky cousin that you are always coming up with reasons to sit and chat with. They effortlessly meld together genres, bluegrass, rock, alternative in a way that is addictive to listen to. This song is one of those songs that make you feel so happy and then you realize that it’s about begging to be taken back after cheating and you scratch your head and wonder how you can feel so good after listening to it.

4. “Going Up the Coast” Clay and Friends.  The lyrics to this song are witty, effortless, and addictive, just like the music. This song is the summer soundtrack you’ve always wanted and is the perfect reminder that 1. you should go outside for a walk, and 2. as the weather warms, reports predict that the virus will wane. You can’t help but smile.

5. “Ride” Clans. I love a song that can take you to a specific shared feeling. You know that space between friendship and love, those jittery should we or shouldn’t we moments? “Ride” captures them. It captures them so well that you can feel those slight butterflies wondering if you should take the risk. Which, of course, you should, but only after social distancing is lifted and you’ve washed your hands. 

6. “I Think I Like You” Goldenface.  I legit don’t understand how more people haven’t heard this song or this group. The baseline is to die for. It’s that song that ups your confidence level by 150% and just like “Ride” captures that should we or shouldn’t we moment in friendship, “I Think I Like You” captures that mutually attracted moment where everything feels so good. The perfect soundtrack for strutting around your living room like you own the place, which you very well might. 

7. “Bruce Wayne” Memorecks (ft. Jenna Pemkowski).  The hero we all need right now. Catchy, cool, and addictive. It seemed like a pandemic playlist wouldn’t be complete without reminding us of the human side of Batman. Nothing brings out the inner superhero like a dramatic societal impact and take a moment to find yours and check on those that need it. 

8. “I Hope You’re Happy” Blue October.  This song has such an 80’s sound, capturing the best of the beats and grit of that decade. It’s also a really beautiful breakup song, the perfect complement to all of those beginnings songs I just made you listen to. 

9. “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain” Lucius.  Lucius is a band well worth knowing. They are what would have happened if Abba tried to write music like the Beatles. Their harmonies are infectious and their shows with Jess and Holly dressed identically in eye catching ensembles should never be missed. If you aren’t yet addicted to Lucius take this song as an invitation to do so. 

10. “Without You Now” Harlequin Gold.  An infectious beat with beautiful harmonies, Harlequin Gold can take your breath away. They are the adolescent version of Lucius and worth discovering. They are still a very small band, rarely playing out of their hometown of Vancouver, but perhaps if enough local people find them, we can compel them to visit. 

11. “Changing” Airborne Toxic Event.  How can one not have a song by a group called the “Airborn Toxic Event” on a pandemic playlist? If all goes well, they are also supposed to play at Upstate Concert Hall on June 17. Another incredible breakup song, the music video has the step dance group “Strikers All Stars” in it and it brings the song to a whole new level. 

12. “Changes” Langhorne Slim.  I was talking to a friend and they remarked that life wouldn’t ever be the same after this. That going through this would permanently change our society. I hope that like this song, we’re able to make the changes that we need to make us better. Langhorne Slim is the musical version of home. Let this song speak to your heart, then delve into his other music. You won’t regret it. 

13. “The Eye” Brandi Carlile.  I had to close out this playlist with one of my favorites and the simple reminder that “you can dance in a hurricane, but only if you are standing in the eye.” I hope that we can all help each other find that space as our community goes through this giant unknown.

Stay safe, wash your hands, take care of people you love, and listen to music friends. 

There are these songs and more on Music in the Time of COVID19 playlist, and I’ll be adding to it. Let me know if there’s a song you’d like to see on it or if there’s something you think I’d love!

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