I don’t have the greatest memory. But when I connect a memory with music, which I often do, I can recall details that I thought were lost. Some songs are so connected with a certain person or experience that I even have a hard time listening to them. In an effort to avoid the feeling of loss or heartbreak I know to stay away from certain songs—that is unless I feel emotionally prepared to revisit those memories. It works in the opposite way as well with happy and joyous memories. That’s why certain songs will always find a place in my rotation sooner or later.
What we are experiencing with this COVID-19 pandemic is something none of us have ever experienced before. The situation is touching people’s lives in many different ways. Some won’t survive it, while others will live to tell the stories to their grandkids. People will lose precious things that they have worked really hard for—small businesses, family homes, mental health, and precious experiences. Some people will create really great memories of spending time with family. We live in a fast-paced world and hopefully, there will be some positive that comes from a forced slowdown.
Personally, I’ve been enjoying my time at home with my wife and kids. Before this situation took hold, I was feeling a bit burned out by the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. But no matter how much I enjoy this slower pace of life, I am still uneasy. I’ve got parents and loved ones that I am concerned about, and I don’t like seeing people suffer—no matter to what degree. One constant in my life that always helps me cope with uneasy situations is music. I know the music I’ve been listening to since this whole thing started will stick with me. I can already identify certain songs that will remind me of the pandemic of 2020 in twenty years from now.
One album that has been in constant rotation during this trying time is Kiwanuka, by British singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka. The album was released in November of 2019, but I had just discovered it in January or February. It’s one of those albums that grew on me—and by the time I was directed to work from home, it had really started to sink into my psyche. It’s been in daily rotation since being quarantined and I am thankful for it. It embodies a lot of how I’ve been feeling. Many of the lyrics fit into this point in time so well. There is a level of seriousness, but also a lot of hope and positivity in the lyrics and music.
I use music to cope. I also use it to escape. At the same time, I use it as a source of joy and positivity. It’s my medicine. Another thing I find enjoyable with music is making compilations. In my day, they were called mixtapes—now they’re more commonly known as playlists. For fun and distraction, I created a COVID-19 playlist. It’s got a wide range of songs for all the people with emotions as mixed as mine are at the moment. I hope you enjoy.