The Pandemic Collection: Playlist

The pandemic has given us all a workout of one kind or another. I managed to stay healthy, and so did my muse. This has been the most prolific song-writing and recording period in my life. Four songs are directly about the pandemic experience itself.

First, a little fun with pandemic precautions. I’ve been fully vaccinated, boosted, masked and distanced. But I also notice how our political polarization has driven us into competing orthodoxies. Orthodoxies may be true, but it’s healthy to play a little with them, to keep them from becoming legalisms. I’ve always liked those old dance-craze songs, like “The Twist” and “Locomotion.” This song follows in that tradition. “Do the Social Distance,” was written and recorded in the first months of the pandemic, April 2020.

Do the Social Distance

The same month, I also wrote this song, “COVID 19, What Does It Mean?” It encapsulates an essay I wrote at that time by the same title. The subtitle is “A Virus Goes Allegorical.” It is included in my book Into the Common: A Journal in Eighteen Essays (2021). Allegory is a way of exploring different levels of meaning of a text or phenomenon. This song explores the medical, economic, political, and environmental levels of the pandemic. It ends with the poor little pangolin, now an endangered species in Asia, hunted for its scales, which have doubtful health benefits for humans. Scientists have been speculated that covid traveled from bats to pangolins and to humans via a Chinese meat market.

COVID 19, What Does It Mean?

A year later in March 2021, two more pandemic songs hatched. The first muses on the way many of us have found our usual reference points disordered by the pandemic. Time has become especially fluid — especially for a retiree like myself. The lyric to “Pandemic Haze” is a minor rewrite of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” Psychedelia meets (temporary, I hope) dementia.

Pandemic Haze

The other song that month reflects on the second round of stimulus checks issued by the federal government, to alleviate the pandemic’s financial stresses. Where I live in subsidized housing for seniors, the checks made a difference and were a frequent topic of conversation among us. This is the first song I’ve ever written with the words “prevenient grace.”

Stimulus Check

At the time of this writing (February 2022) I hope there will be no more pandemic songs to write. Maybe I can start writing endemic songs.

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