These are trying times, my friends. Justifiably so, we are in a constant state of panic and concern about our health, the safety of our loved ones, and the future. Everyday brings a barrage of news reports about rising corona cases, increased fatalities, and ever changing hypotheses and knowledge. We’re constantly inundated with sounds of terror, fear, and panic. Although we’re encouraged to every-now-and-then disconnect from these stimuli, the quiet we’re left with during our quarantine can be even more triggering.
That’s why we all have a powerful self-care tool at our immediate disposal. No, I’m not talking wine, although sure, let’s include that. I’m talking about music.
By now, you’ve seen the reaffirming clips of quarantined Italian citizens gathering on their balconies and singing Rhianna or neighbors in Spain performing “My Heart Will Go On.” Sure, we also got that cringeworthy celebrity sing-a-long of “Imagine,” but we won’t count that. The fact is that people are using music to not only gather, but as a tool in their self-care kit. Research shows that listening to music allows the mind to not only focus, but to release and relax. If there was any a time to release and relax, it’s definitely now.
Rather than stress over what to listen to in order to destress (and defeating the purpose), here’s just my favorite mix for social distancing. Turn it up loud and get ready to dance/scream/cry/harmonize the stress away.
“Walk Me Home” by P!nk
We have to put on so many brave faces for our family, for our children, for our students, for our neighbors that sometimes we forget that it’s okay to say, “I’m scared, too.” We forget that true bravery is admitting that we need help just as much as those who depend on us.
P!nk, by far, is that artist who has never been ashamed to be raw and vulnerable in her music. In “Walk Me Home,” she opens up about her own fears of being alone with her own thoughts, of the dangerous outside her door, and that to need someone isn’t weakness. It’s simply being human.
“Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac
As the days of corona and social distancing progress, it’s easy and inevitable to feel that there is barely a light at the end of this dark tunnel. Fleetwood Mac is here to remind you that tomorrow is a new day and that day needs you to dance:
Don’t stop thinkin’ about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
“Soon You’ll Get Better” by Taylor Swift
Of course I’m going to have the queen of lyrically emoting on this playlist. Taylor Swift’s “Soon You’ll Get Better” is less of promise of a better future and more of a plea for the singer’s – and our own – care and healing of a broken and worried heart.
If you’re wondering, “Damn. Julie went dark in this playlist,” I truly believe in embracing all emotions, and that includes sadness and worry. According to Sadness in Inside Out, “Crying helps me slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems.” For three minutes and twenty-two seconds, we’re given that opportunity to slow down and obsess.
“Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine
I guess I could have put Taylor Swift’s widely well-known “Shake It Off” on this list, but there is something about the insanely talented Florence + the Machine’s “Shake It Out” that speaks for this time. Perhaps it’s the soul-crushing vocal register of Florence Welch that just hits you in all the feels. Perhaps it’s the crescendo of the song that causes goosebumps on your arms. Perhaps it’s the lyrics reminding you to…
Shake it out, shake it out,
Shake it out, shake it out, ooh whoa
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh whoa
In fact, it’s all of it. So, listen to the woman and do what she sings: “Shake it out.”
“Keep Breathing” by Ingrid Michaelson
Ingrid Michaelson’s “Keep Breathing” is the necessary reminder we all need during this corona quarantine: We may not know the answer. We may be unsure of what today or the next holds. Life is, at the time, out of our control.
However, what we do know for certain is that we are breathing, and that we are doing what we can to help ourselves, help others, and that is beyond enough.
“Take Care” by Beach House
It’s easy to dwindle on and obsess over the negatives and shortcomings of humanity during this time: our own government’s faults in addressing this crisis sooner, people still believing coronavirus to be a hoax, Florida in general. Yet, there has been and continues to be light during these dark times: people coming together (of course, from a distance), helping their fellow neighbor, and offering their time, money, and resources to those in need.
Beach House’s “Take Care” is the melodic reminder that in the wake of tragedy, there are good people out there, willing to take that extra step and provide the one thing that people need most during this time: care.
“you should see me in a crown” by Billie Eilish
Remember what I wrote about embracing emotions? Anger is included and it’s completely normal.
Let me just state for the record: You are allowed to be angry. Angry about people not taking social distancing seriously. Angry over the fact that our own commander-in-chief casually and flagrantly dismisses the advice of medical professionals. Angry that your own children and other students haven’t seen an actual classroom in over a week and most likely will not for the remainder of the school year. Angry at corona for taking your life and flipping it upside down.
You are justified in that anger and you need a song to equal that frustration. Enter Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown.” She’s so amped, she said, “Fuck grammar and capitalization rules” when writing this song.
Turn this up, and let the bass express your rage.
“Humble.” by Kendrick Lamar
If any playlist, regardless of genre, doesn’t include Kendrick Lamar, are you truly living and is it truly music?
In “Humble.” the Pulitzer Prize winning musician drops a beat that will make even the most stoic and conservative tap their foot or move those overly tense shoulders in ways you would only see at a wedding when “Sweet Caroline” drops. It’s the message of the song, however, which encourages us to embrace the real and let go of the fantasy that makes this the perfect addition to a social distancing playlist.
No matter your social status, net worth, or education, we are all affected by the coronavirus. As someone recently pointed out, “For those dressed up in jeans during the quarantine: what are you trying to prove?!” Kendrick Lamar reminds us to accept our reality, be honest and real in order to learn from it, move forward, and beyond.
Listen for the beat. Stay for the message.
“Light On” by Maggie Rogers
Perhaps the most frustrating feeling these few past few weeks isn’t the anger or the fear. It’s the self-doubt. It’s the idea that tomorrow, next week, next month, or even the rest of this year is filled with uncertainty. It’s even harder to admit when we don’t know, and that we’re left with more questions than answers. Maggie Rogers vocalizes those feelings in her self-doubt anthem, “Light On:”
Would you hear me out if I told you I was terrified for days?
Thought I was gonna break
Oh, I couldn’t stop it, tried to slow it all down
Cryin’ in the bathroom, had to figure it out
With everyone around me sayin’, “You must be so happy now”
Remember, it’s okay to not have the answers. You’re human.
“Rise Up” by Audra Day
Any good playlist ends with that “song.” Y’know. The song that reaffirms whatever you needed to be reaffirmed. It’s the song that causes your pulse to beat widely, the tears to flow unimpededly, your voice to rise from a soft hum to a stadium shout. For this playlist, we need to remember that yes, we are human, but it’s our humanity that will get us through these dark times. That even though our path is shaky and we’re figuring out the future step by step, that all is not lost.
No song encapsulates that feeling of both fear and triumph better than Andra Day’s “Rise Up.” When you feel that all is lost, you are unsure, alone, and scared, play this and remember that you are doing enough and you, along with us all, will get through this one day at a time:
And I’ll rise up
I’ll rise like the day
I’ll rise up
I’ll rise up unafraid
I’ll rise up
And I’ll do it a thousand times again
What songs are getting you through this time? Also, I’ll RSVP yes to your dance party. You’re not alone.
Julie believes great books should be read more than once and prides herself on finding the "dirty part" in any romance novel under a minute. Loves red wine but loves it more when shared with friends. Has an (embarrassingly) extensive knowledge about all things Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl. Is currently curating the perfect playlists that ALWAYS include a song from one of the Twilight soundtracks.