Quarantunes: Ten Songs to Survive Quarantine

Well, if you were to ask me two months ago how I thought this spring would go, this is probably the farthest thing from what I would have guessed. With everything that’s going on, it’s so important to find healthy ways to work through the roller coaster of emotions that is Quarantine 2020. Personally, I’ve always been one of those people that relies heavily on music to help me process my feelings, and in the past few weeks, I’ve had a whole lot of emotions and a whole lot of time to listen to music. So, please enjoy these ten incredibly random songs that have been keeping me company during social distancing. 

“Dylan Thomas” by Better Oblivion Community Center

Better Oblivion Community Center is the eponymous debut album of the indie rock supergroup consisting of Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers. It’s centered around the concept of a fictional dystopian facility. “Dylan Thomas,” the first single on the album, probably encapsulates this vaguely apocalyptic aesthetic best out of all the other songs. I heard this song for the first time when Talawanda’s own indie supergroup, Meet Me In The Lobby (Mr. Aerni and Mrs. Squance) performed it at the November Setting Stone coffee house. It’s been a staple in my playlists ever since, but since mid-March it feels like an uncanny reflection of our own world. With lyrics like, “there’s flowers in the rubble / the weeds are gonna tumble,” this song evokes the chaos of our time, but also the beauty and strength there is to be found in it. 

“Lone Star” by The Front Bottoms

In times like these, sometimes you want a song for wallowing in your sadness, or a song to raise morale, or a song to remind you of better times. Sometimes, you just need a song for being angry at the world. For me, this song is perfect for the job. That last week of school, when everything felt like it was falling apart by the minute, I listened to this song about three times a day. The frantic guitar and percussion coupled with Brian Sella’s forceful vocals and achingly honest lyrics hit pretty close to home, and allowed me to work through that worry and frustration I think we all found ourselves dealing with pretty suddenly.  This is a song for when things just suck, and that’s all there is to say about it. 

“Garden Song” by Phoebe Bridgers

You’ll have to forgive me if Phoebe Bridgers shows up a couple times on this relatively short list, but her soft-spoken, simple-yet-profound lyrics and melodies have been a good portion of what’s getting me through this quarantine. This song, one of Bridgers’s most recent releases, pairs stripped down, dreamlike production with melancholy lyrics to create something that is somehow simultaneously comforting and somber. These types of songs have been my favorite in recent weeks; they help me mourn my losses while reminding me that everything will turn out okay. 

“American Pie” by Don McLean

I’ve always loved this song—all eight and a half minutes of it—as weird as it is. Originally written about the cultural shifts of the 1960s, the vague nature of the lyrics gives the song the ability to feel applicable to any tumultuous time in cultural history. I think it’s fair to say that we’re all living through an important historical event right now, and nobody quite knows how to deal with it, since nothing like this has ever happened before on such a global scale. To some degree, I would predict that the innocence of our own generation is being lost. We’re all learning the hard way that the world is scary and unpredictable, and sometimes there is very little that you can control. This song, in a surreal way, captures those feelings of chaos and uncertainty of the American teenager in 2020.

“Read My Mind” by The Killers

I don’t really have a good rationale for this one in terms of how it relates to our situation right now—I couldn’t really tell you what the song’s even about. It kind of falls in the same category as #2 in the getting-out-your-frustrations department, in a slightly sadder, more resigned way. All I can really say is that you will feel 100% better after bouncing around your room to this song until you get a headache. Sometimes that’s all you need to do.  

“Seventeen” by Sharon Van Etten

 Being seventeen during any normal year is stressful enough. There are so many big changes and so much growth that go along with it. As an age, it’s always been a lot to handle, but this year’s batch of seventeen year olds get a special flavor of it. This song, for me, was already a personal coming-of-age mainstay, but it seems to have taken on a new meaning in the past month or so. Preparing to become an adult during a global pandemic is nothing to sneeze at, logistically and emotionally, and this song manages to encompass all the feelings of loneliness, fun, loss, beauty, and nostalgia that come with it. 

“Put The Message In The Box” by World Party

I recently rediscovered this song and it felt like one of those songs you hear just at the moment when you need to hear it. It falls more on the optimistic end of the spectrum, and encourages the listener to look around at the world and appreciate the little things—something a lot of us are probably getting a lot better at while living through this. Between the carefree guitar hook and reassuring lyrics, this song seems to simplify the world in a comforting way. Excellent for dissipating worries while driving with the windows down on one of those warmer spring days.

“Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan

The title of this song might be a little generous to apply to our own situation, but I find the song’s message to be both sad and cathartic at a time like this. After an initial few weeks of loss and fear, most of us have probably settled in to some degree of new-normalcy, and with that comes a sense of resignation and acceptance towards all the experiences we’ve lost. A few months is a lot of time in the life of a high school student, when things move so fast. Especially for those of us coming up on the end of it all. As Dylan sings, “you just kinda wasted my precious time / but don’t think twice, it’s alright.” It’s not really all right, but it is what it is, and hopefully we’ll get through it together.

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones

Following in this playlist’s tradition of songs that are both melancholy and optimistic, this one feels very relevant. Even if being quarantined indefinitely isn’t what we need and it definitely isn’t what we want, there’s still a lot of truth in this song for us right now if you think about it. So many of us had so many things we were looking forward to this spring: celebrations, travel, rights of passage. Things we wanted, but didn’t get. And yet, maybe there are parts of this that we do need. We needed to realize who and what is truly important to us, and how we could change going forward. We all needed to take some time to look around us and notice all the little things we’d been missing before, whether it’s something we can’t have now or something that’s bringing unexpected joy. 

“With a Little Help From My Friends” by The Beatles

If there’s anything we as a society have learned from this whole experience, it’s how much we love being around other people. I’m not sure any of us really realized how much of our culture and systems are built around interacting with and spending time with others, until we couldn’t do that anymore. This song, written at the peak of the Beatles’ dynamic as a group, is a testament in itself to the power of friendship. Even in this time of social distance, so many friendships are getting the chance to discover what they’re really made of. Even as we’re all doing our very best to avoid each other, people are reaching out, checking in, and being kind to each other. If we only get one thing out of all this at this end of it, I hope it’s this.   Click here for link or play below: