Have you ever had a song lyric suddenly click? You press play and before you know it Paul Simon, who was once married to Princess Leia, and is probably 85, understands you even more than you understand yourself. His words, his mood, it’s you – exactly what you’re going through.
Music is great, not many people would disagree with that, but music is even better when we connect to it – when it speaks to us. These moments of connection are magical, but rare for most. We’re not all falling in love every time a song comes on.
Now though, in this crazy new reality, there is much more of an opportunity to connect with music. Whether you’re feeling like you’ve, “never felt this way before” (Talk, Khalid) or you’re wondering “who would’ve known how bittersweet this would taste” (Someone Like You, Adele), there is a song out there that speaks to how you’re feeling. You don’t have to be in the middle of a whirlwind romance anymore to relate to music. You’re in the midst of a global pandemic.
The other day, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, by Wilco popped up on my Spotify: proof of the random perfection of shuffle songs. The words “what was I thinking when I said goodnight” struck me. This is my senior year of high school; on my last day of physical school (Friday the 13th), my friends and I joked about it being our last day of school as we said goodbye/goodnight. We had no idea there was a good chance that would be true. Wilco got me thinking: “what was I thinking when I said goodnight”?
Here’s an eclectic list of songs that work for this moment. We all need moments of connection with music – it’s comforting to know that some cool musician feels (kinda) like us.
#1. There’s a good chance you’re feeling nostalgic. If so, try Beechwood Park by The Zombies.
“Take me back in my mind / And I can’t forget u / Won’t forget you / Won’t forget those days… And we would count the evening stars / As the day grew dark / In Beechwood Park”
#2. Feeling ready for things to go back to normal? Try Green Light, by Lorde.
“I'm waiting for it, that green light, I want it / Oh, I wish I could get my things and just let go”
#3. If you’re going through an episode of midnight (or 2 am) crazies, try Harvest Moon, by Neil Young.
“Just like children sleepin' / We could dream this night away / But there’s a full moon risin’ / Let’s go dancin’ in the light”
#4. Back to The Zombies, because they’re pretty cool and you’ve probably never heard of them: if you’re thinking of someone you can’t see right now, give Care of Cell 44 a listen.
“Thinkin’ of me while you are far away / Counting the days until they set you free again / Writing this letter, hoping you’re okay”
#5. There’s a chance you’re mourning your school year, that concert, or whatever you were supposed to be doing right now. If that’s you, try the all-time classic, Rolling in the Deep, by Adele.
“I can’t help feeling we could’ve had it all”
#6. If you’re experiencing denial (who isn’t?), try Wild World, by Cat Stevens.
“Oh baby, baby it’s a wild world / It’s hard to get by just upon a smile”
#7. These Days*, by Jackson Browne, sums it all up for me, maybe it will for you too.
“Well I’ve been out walking / I don’t do that much talking these days / These days / These days I seem to think a lot / About the things that I forgot to do… I’ll keep on moving… things are bound to be improving these days”
*Note: Feel free to enjoy this song, but keep in mind, according to Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne is a jerk (google it). So if you want Joni to sum it all up for you instead, try River. We could all use a river to skate away on.
#8. Continuing with the theme of the worst musical boyfriends of the ’70s, try Helplessly Hoping, by Crosby, Stills & Nash, if you’re thinking about goodbyes.
“Only to trip at the sound of goodbye / Wordlessly watching, he waits by the window and wonders / At the empty place inside… he worries / Did he hear a goodbye?”
#9. If (like me) you’re a bit sick of your family, try Pale Blue Eyes, by The Velvet Underground.
“sometimes I feel so happy / Sometimes I feel so sad / Sometimes I feel so happy / But mostly you just make me mad / Baby, you just make me mad”
#10. Last, but not least, give On The Radio, by Regina Spector a listen. The cover by Chip Taylor is also quite good.
“we were on our knees / Praying that disease / Would leave the ones we love / And never come again”
This is not the end of the music you should be listening to. Give these songs a listen, but more importantly, listen to your own go-to tracks with new ears. It doesn’t matter if you’re into Dolly Parton, Prince, or Bille Eilish: they have something new to tell you.
Don’t stop at music though, this idea of new connections to the old applies to much more. Everything is different now, and there is a new way to see and connect with it all. Maybe it’s the view outside your window, your favorite movie, or your little sister’s laugh. Music, movies, whatever it is, try giving it a look with your quarantine glasses on, you may see something new.