Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A Covidious Playlist

I give you a covidious playlist, a soundtrack for life in a covidious time. Music, as ever, is a comfort suite or, as per the pandemic dictionary, a support bubble, I trust this playlist could be yours. (spotify version)

Don't Stand So Close To Me by Sting, The Roots and Jimmy Fallon

This self-isolating Zoom remix of The Police's timely message nicely sets the tone. It's a tune I had in my head the last time I was in line in a grocery store in Austin back in March. I suppose I was early to wearing masks but I had fair warning of the danger. By the second week of February, the servers at the Chinese restaurant that my work colleagues preferred were all wearing gloves and masks. Also, I am married to a historian of science who teaches the history of disease and whose friends all work in Centers for Disease Controls all over the world; they were all crying Cassandra in February. I was early to despair but it appears that many others are still debating the point.

U Can't Touch This by MC Hammer

The album was titled Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em. Doing a spot of long delayed covidious spring cleaning, I came across a pair of baggy trousers that aided my running man histrionics circa 1989-1990. A friend also blackmailed me with a 3 second clip of the kind of youthful indiscretion that you are wont to get into at boarding school. The virus has made us all untouchable.

Close to You by Maxi Priest

Maxi gets to the heart of the business, the frustration felt by many separated from their loved ones. I miss all of you.

Tempted to Touch by Beres Hammond

The golden voice of lovers rock yearns for contact.

Touch is a conversation in another language.

Reach out and Touch (Somebody's Hand) by Diana Ross

Homo sapiens are social beasts and our desire for connection is both a source of our vitality and, in this pandemic, a public health disaster. The most emotional rendition of this song was at the close of the Motown 25 show, a fitting letdown after the Billie Jean histrionics. The things we have lost.

Positivity by Prince

A few US governors contributed new lyrics to a covidious remix of Prince's funk epic. Their wishful thinking met the reality of rising positivity rates and, well, uncontrolled community spread. He ended the song quite aptly

Hold on to your soul
We've got a long way to go.

Breathe Life into Me by Mica Paris

Preach it Mica. This song has been my soul therapy for the longest. It can now serve as a ventilator in extremis, perhaps the W.H.O. can prescribe it against the disease, it is far more effective than Presidential bleach. The album is aptly titled So Good. Indeed.

Touch You by Al B. Sure

This was the lead track of the Touch playlist and it was fitting. There was no sophomore slump for Al B and the album title is timely: Private Times and the Whole 9. We are all having a lot of private times these days, he prepared us for the second wave.

in a covidious time

They Long To Be Close To You by Dionne Warwick

Keeping things mellow, this is the ballad of the grandparents and hangout zoom skype facetime afflicted. This b-side opener harkens back to Maxi Priest's message.

Drop Dead Gorgeous by Entouch

Moving things uptempo, the most distressing footage early on from the streets of Wuhan, Lombardy and especially Ecuador gave a sense of the grievous damage being done to humanity, a parade of beautiful bodies dropping in the streets, or neglected in hospital waiting rooms and floors.

Too Close by Next

If there is a song that captures the club grind date experience this is it. I had never seen the video until recently but it is exactly as I imagined it. And imagination is all we'll have to draw on for the foreseable future. What paradise have we lost?

When You Touch We Touch by Omar

A superspreading neo-calypso groove as my man typically conjures. It's a matter of public health.

The Sweat Drops by Timmy Gatling

He split with Teddy Riley early on and his contributions to Guy are lost to history but in the one album he did release, Timmy Gatling was on point. Keith Sweat drops in at the tail end of the tune to drop some ad-libs to punctuate the down and dirty business. This is grown folks' music. This is the anthem of the essential worker, those laboring in meat packing plants for our benefit.

Humanity (Love the Way it should be) by Prince Lincoln

A monster track, a monster album. The falsetto is impeccable, the groove is peerless. Love never felt so good.

Pressure Drop by Toots and The Maytals

We lost Toots Hibbert on September 11th 2020 during this pandemic and we all paid the cost. The chocolate voice - the Otis Redding of reggae and the Godfather of musical grit, he is sorely missed.

Just to be Close to You by The Commodores

Lionel Richie's songwriting was always effortless and he caught wist with this tune.

Your Touch Is So Warm by Hi-Life International

You'll have to dig deep in the crates for this one, I daren't put my copy online. Once bitten, twice shy and all that. Blame the copyright police. From the Music to Wake the Dead album, the horns on this guitar-inflected groove are delicious.

Drop a Dime by Charlie Hunter

I've been frankly shocked by Republican and Tory unwillingness to even do the bare minimum to tackle the pandemic and nickel and dime their way through this shambles at the cost of so much preventable human suffering. I guess I was overly optimistic about the possibility of a return of some semblance of a shame culture in the anglosphere. The cruelty must be the point.

But back to the music, this elegiac joint appears on the aptly named album: Gentlemen, I Neglected To Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid. Rent is due, losers and suckers. There's a live version I came across where Charlie segues seamlessly into the legendary groove he concocted with D'Angelo, The Root.

Every Breath You Take by The Police

The original ode to a ventilator by way of surveillance and contact tracing.

Everything Must Change - Quincy Jones ft. Benard Ighner

The longer this covidious interlude goes on the more apparent it is that the new normalcy cannot be anything like the old one, and that the underlying conditions of iniquity, now thoroughly exposed and laid bare, need to be addressed. This is the soundtrack of the challenge ahead and the road to freedom.

Emergency on Planet Earth by Jamiroquai

The acid jazz soundtrack of the climate change crisis is of wider applicability.

Everything Must Change - Randy Crawford

The message is so essential that any number of remakes could be added to this playlist, there's joy in repetition and Randy Crawford's voice should be a daily treat.

San Salvador by Prince Lincoln

How my heart weeps at the unecessary deaths all over the world. And then they call it excess mortality.

As he sings:
Down here in San Salvador
There's a way of life overwhelming us, the poor
I had my own take:
A surfeit of mixed metaphors in a covidious time
Still, the second wave is coming, as is the bread line
Rent is due, and what about those evictions?
Moratoria were mooted without income support provisions

For Want Of A Bolt
the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

And the band played on...

A Covidious Playlist


This note is part of a series: In a covidious time

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