Every disaster deserves a song. Since I am not a song-writer, I decided to put together a playlist for COVID-19. Most of the songs were chosen for the titles, but many have something to say to our current situation. Most can be found on Spotify. These are all from my personal music library.
Spanish Pipedream : John Prine from The John Prine Anthology: Great Days
We start with Prine for sentimental reasons—he died after exposure to the Corona Virus. There were several that almost made the playlist, but this one seemed to have the best advice. Blow up your TV!
Don’t Let Us Get Sick: Warren Zevon from Life’ll Kill Ya
This song has been covered by the likes of Jackson Browne and Julie Sobule but none come close to Zevon’s own. The simple guitar work backs a voice that has known more than its share of troubles. I happen to be sheltering in place with someone I really like, so the last verse sums up my own self-quarantine nicely.
I’m lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine
Don’t let us get sick\
Don’t let us get old
Don’t let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight
Stay Home: sElf from Shrek Soundtrack
There are basically two types of people who are sheltering in place; those who really want to stay away from other people, and those who are climbing the walls. This is for the people who are glad to be distanced from any possible carriers of the new plague.
Think Twice Before You Go: Van Morrison & Linda Gail Lewis from You Win Again
Like most songs on this playlist, it’s really about something else. But the title sums up how a lot of people feel before they leave their house. Plus, it’s just a fun song.
At Home: Tord Gustavsen Trio from Being There
I used to host a Jazz show on KUAC, the public radio station in Fairbanks, Alaska. One night I got a call asking me to play something from Tord Gustavsen, who I had not heard of. It was one of the best calls I ever got while hosting. If you have to be home, you might as well has some really nice music to accompany you.
How’s It Gonna End: Tom Waits from Real Gone
We’ve been hunkered down for a couple weeks now, and we all have the same question. This song has a kind of creepy carnival feel to it, which matches my mood about ten minutes of every hour I am stuck in place.
Everyone wants to know
How’s it going to end?
World Keeps Turning : Tom Waits from Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
If anyone gets two shots at providing a soundtrack to our self-quarantine, Waits is the most likely candidate. I almost didn’t include it, but these lyrics sealed the deal for me.
Well, the band has stopped playing but we keep dancing
The world keeps turning, the world keeps turning
The national band has packed it in, and is no longer playing, but that does not mean we have to stop dancing.
Before The Deluge: Jackson Browne from Late For The Sky
I have been entertaining myself during the time of Corona by reading Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague, about the various outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics since the 1940s. It’s true that Jackson Browne is writing about a deluge of water, but maybe it will be the viruses that do us in. But in the end, this is a song about hope.
Let the music keep our spirits high
Let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky
I don’t know about you, but other than my wife, music is what is getting me through all this.
Gonna Get By James Gang from Newborn
This is the James Gang after Joe Walsh. The title says it all.
Up On The Roof : James Taylor from Flag
We all need our own version of the roof. I have to admit that the Drifters do a better version, but I heard Taylor’s version at a time in my life where I felt I needed to live on the roof, so his makes the cut for this list. Music is my “roof.”
I Shall be Released (Take 2): Bob Dylan & The Band from The Basement Tapes – Raw: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 11 [disc 1]
I know this is about a man in jail, but what is self-quarantine but a voluntary prison? Dylan’s wistful expresses the misery of imprisonment.
Back Home War from War
This makes the list because of the title and the music. This may be one of the saddest songs on this list.
Hope You’re Feeling Better: Santana from Abraxas
I hope this song makes you feel better. Early Santana, when they were merging funk, Latin and hard rock. If the guitar solo doesn’t make you feel better, you need to see your doctor.
Hopeless Bleak Despair They Might Be Giants from Mink Car
This song has two possibilities to make you feel better. First, while things are bad, at least you don’t feel hopeless, bleak, despair. But second, in case you do, the message is that one day, it leaves!
No Particular Place to Go: Chuck Berry from The Definitive Collection: Chuck Berry
If the title of this song does not describe how a lot of us feel, nothing does. “Oh boy, I get to go to the store for more toilet paper!” Of course we can cruise with our sweeties and keep our social distance from others, but if you do, check your seat belt first!
Pacing The Cage: Bruce Cockburn from The Charity of Night
Should you find yourself with no particular place to go, you may end up pacing the cage we call stay-in-place. Of course, Cockburn is pacing the cage of his soul. The more comfortable we are with ourselves, the less we find ourselves pacing the cage.
Should I Stay or Should I Go : The Clash from Combat Rock
Stay! (in place).
And rock out to this song.
The World’s Not Falling Apart : Dar Williams From The Beauty Of The Rain
This is really a pep talk for people who think the world depends on them to survive. The world can be a pretty cruddy place at time, and its not always our fault.
The closest thing to God that I have heard,
is when I knew I did not have the final word.
You say the world has lost its love;
I say embrace what it’s made of.
We just cannot control what goes on in the world. Which leads us to the next song…
No Control : David Bowie 1. Outside – The Nathan Adler Diaries: A Hyper Cycle
Control is useful fiction, but sometimes an itty bitty virus reminds us how much control we really have—which is not much. Don’t tell God your plans.
No control I can’t believe I’ve no control
It’s all deranged
I can’t believe I’ve no control
It’s all deranged
Where are you Going: Dave Matthews Band from Dave Matthews Central Park Concert
Matthews sings, Where you go/Is where I wanna be. For a playlist in the time of Corona, it’s more like, where you stay is where I wanna be.
Alone Together: Paul Desmond from Take Ten
The first time I heard the famous Take Five, I thought, “What a great sax player!” I personally think Desmond is incredibly underrated. This is one of his best solo efforts. What are we today if not alone together. I hum this to myself when I get ready to do live stream worship services. We are alone, but we are also together.
Shelter From The Storm Bob Dylan from Hard Rain
It’s really weird that a song about needing shelter has something to say about how hard it is to shelter in place.
I chose the version from Hard Rain instead of the softer one from Blood on the Tracks.
The harder edge portrays our days more accurately. Dylan is practically begging for shelter here.
Well, I’m livin’ in a foreign country but I’m bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm
My own home feels like a foreign country, and in our case, shelter actually means being able to be free from sheltering in place.
That’s the Way That the World Goes Round: John Prine from John Prine Live
We started with Prine and we’ll end with Prine.
That’s the way that the world goes ’round.
You’re up one day and the next you’re down.
It’s half an inch of water and you think you’re gonna drown.
That’s the way that the world goes ’round.
May all your enchiladas be happy!
Zevon has several songs that fit this playlist, my favorite being Disorder in the house.