Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Songs To Get You Through Lockdown

I suppose I should start this article with an apology as I fear I may have jinxed us all by unintentionally encouraging Lockdown 2.0 in my last article for Music is To Blame (check out the Dizzy Single Review). How foolish was I to state that “Home, is where I want to be”? Famous last words, indeed. It is therefore rather fitting that my next article bears the title ‘Songs To Get You Through Lockdown’.  

If you are anything like me, a furloughed 25-year-old currently living with my parents, then you too will have found yourself with plenty of time on your hands this year. Therefore, like most people I am sure, I have relied heavily on the arts, but particularly in music, during the lockdowns. Not only has it helped me pass the time, but it has also offered some escapism, elevated my mood, and comforted me in moments of need. 

So with that in mind, while all the actual doctors and nurses continue being absolute, genuine heroes (now even more than ever), allow me to prescribe you some musical remedies that may help you to navigate your way through the rollercoaster of emotions and scenarios you may find yourself in during Lockdown 2.0. On the whole, I’ve tried to stick to songs which were released this year, but having found it virtually impossible to select just one song for each spiritual ailment/scenario, I’ve also included a handful of golden oldies (or just slightly less recent, bangers)...

 

Songs To: Remind You That This Year Has Been Totally Out of Your Control 

 

‘One More Year’ – Tame Impala 

As if Kevin Parker wasn’t talented enough, seemingly, he can also predict the future. Tame Impala’s latest album ‘The Slow Rush’ was released in February of this year, back before most of the world (particularly us Brits) were in no hurry to take Coronavirus even remotely seriously. Yet somehow, the title of this album seems to perfectly sum up the year. 2020 has been strange in that it has somehow simultaneously manged to go incredibly quickly and painfully slow. For those who have found themselves furloughed, it may feel like time itself has stopped entirely, whereas for those trying to juggle working from home and family life (and everything else in-between) you perhaps feel as if you were somewhat swiftly sucked up into a tornado in March, only to be spat out moments later, just in time for Christmas.  

Not only was the title of this album surely foreshadowing something we were all yet to know, but just listen to the first few lines of the opening track, ‘One More Year’. “Do you remember we were standing here a year ago? / Our minds were racing and time went slow / If there was trouble in the world we didn’t know / If we ever cared we didn’t show”. Well thanks for the warning, Kev. Anyway, I’ve chosen this track as it’s a friendly reminder of the lack of control that we’ve all had in our lives this year – “We’re on a rollercoaster stuck on its loop-de-loop” for sure, but that’s okay. If you’re somewhat struggling at the moment with the trajectory in which this year has taken you, then I urge you to listen to this song (and the few others below) to remind yourself of the fact that sometimes there is nothing we can do but to succumb to the powers that be. Don’t beat yourself up if this year hasn’t quite gone to plan, you are doing just fine. Despite this, it’s not all doom and gloom and things WILL get better. Ultimately, the song leaves me with a feeling of hope which is something that I’m sure we have all been in short supply of lately. 

 

Also listen to… 

  • ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ – Spiritualized 
  • ‘Seabird’ – Alessi Brothers 
  • ‘Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)’ – Sly and The Family Stone (Cover) 
  • ‘Space Song’ – Beach House 
  • ‘Across The Universe’ – The Beatles 

 

 

Songs To: Spread Joy and Get You Out of Bed 

 

‘Fashun’ – Willie J Healey 

I must reluctantly confess; I spent the first lockdown only somewhat aware of Willie J Healey, helped only by the likes of Alex Turner and Jamie T wearing his merch. Yet, after doing some research and listening to some of his earlier work, I was very excited to hear what he had in store for us. Boy, he did not disappoint. I have listened to the album ‘Twin Heavy’ from start to finish more times than I wish to admit, and I find all twelve tracks on this record equally as punchy in their own way. Not necessarily my favourite of the twelve (although saying that, there isn’t one I don’t like), ‘Fashun’ simply had to be chosen as one of my ‘songs to get you through the lockdown’ as it spreads warmth and joy from the very start. It opens with a playful glissando and then you are greeted by Healey with the lyrics “Open up your eyes / Let the sun climb through your window”. If that’s not a great way to start your day, then I don’t know what is. Before you know it, you’re gleefully tapping your foot along to the ultra-catchy beat and singing it to yourself for the rest of the day. Even on days with no sunshine (there’s many of those to come unfortunately), it helps me to temporarily forget about the lockdown restrictions and makes me want to burst open my front door, inhale the fresh air, and strut down the road like some schmuck in an American sitcom. It invokes in me the kind of question ‘What does this fine day have in store for me?’ and encourages me to seize the day. Of course, this feeling soon passes and I inevitably spend the day watching re-runs of The Office US whilst consuming my body weight in cheese, but, BUT, for all 3 minutes and 5 seconds of this cheery little number I tell myself that the world is my oyster.  

 

Also listen to… 

  • ‘Awaiting On You All’ – George Harrison 
  • ‘You Ain’t The Problem’ – Michael Kiwanuka 
  • ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ – Leo Sayer 
  • ‘Good As Hell’ – Lizzo 
  • ‘I Love Music’ – The O’Jays 

 

 

  

Songs To: Make You Feel Sexy 

 

‘Don’t Beat the Girl out of My Boy’ - Anna Calvi 

As a single, 20-odd year old, still living with Mum and Dad - it’s safe to say that my already desperate love life has reached an all-time low this year and it is genuinely becoming increasingly difficult for me to recall what the touch of a fellow human being feels like (yes, really). In addition to this, I am also now of the delightful age where a wedding proposal seems to be a weekly occurrence on Facebook. Old school acquaintances look nauseatingly happy with their partners, ticking off their relationship milestones for all to see (do I sound bitter at all?) and picking up keys to their new houses like they’re giving them out for free. Seriously though, kudos to anyone managing to buy a place in this day and age (that was genuine, I promise). Whilst this is frankly rather irritating, I really don’t wish to come across too ‘woe is me’ as I am actually the happiest I have been for a long time and am enjoying the single life (which is a good job, too). However, I am only human, and we all have our moments of weakness. During the lockdowns I’ve certainly been guilty of scrolling through social media and have even had the odd pang of wanting what others have. At times I have got dangerously close to sliding into the DMs of a former flame or pursuing someone I have zero actual desire for and it is in these brief moments of despair, I need to listen to something (sharpish). Something that will remind me that I am absolutely fine on my own and am even, occasionally, entitled to feel sexy (when I’m not vegged out on the sofa, covered in crumbs). 

A quick blast of Anna Calvi’s ferocious ‘Don’t Beat the Girl out of My Boy’is enough to snap me out of it. In the time it would have taken me to hit the send button to a message I would have undoubtedly regretted, I find myself chuckling at the utter FOOLS who have so FOOLISHLY bought houses and accepted proposals to people they are in love with (again, not bitter at all). Off I go, dancing my sexy little self to the kitchen to top up my glass of red wine, gyrating on each and every kitchen cabinet as I go.  

The eagle eyed among you will notice that this song appeared on Anna Calvi’s 2018 Mercury nominated album, ‘Hunter’ and therefore wasn’t released this year. However, back in March, Calvi treated us to the EP ‘Hunted’, in which she revisited some of the tracks on her original album. Whilst I believe both versions are striking and brilliant in different ways (the addition of Courtney Barnett being one of them), it is the primal and raw nature of the original which really gets me going. 

 

Also listen to… 

  • ‘Woman To Woman’ – Joe Cocker 
  • ‘That Lady, Pts. 1&2’ – The Isley Brothers 
  • ‘A Girl Like You’ – Edwyn Collins 
  • ‘Black Magic Woman’ – Santana 
  • ‘Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland)’ – Jimi Hendrix 

 

 

  

Songs To: Listen To When Running 

 

‘Model Village’ – IDLES 

I feel I should start this section by making you all aware that I am not a gym bunny and therefore the closures of gyms all over the country have had little to no effect on me. I do, however, enjoy sport and find that running (particularly during the lockdowns) has greatly benefitted my mental health. Getting fit along the way, has purely just been an added bonus.  Everyone is different and has varying ways of dealing with things so if running isn’t for you, then feel free to skip this section (if there was something less strenuous that helped my mental health as much as running does then believe me, I’d definitely be doing that instead).  

IDLES have a clever knack of using their aggressive and gritty sound to encourage compassion rather than violence. Whilst their music (and appearances) may have a grizzly and hard exterior, like a perfectly cooked choc chip cookie (perhaps like the ones Delia Smith might make front man Joe “after ten Chardonnays”?), they’re wonderfully gooey in the middle. As stated on some of their merch, they’re “not fighting, we’re dancing”, but you would be forgiven for thinking the former on a first listen. This is certainly the case too of ‘Model Village’. It, therefore, makes perfect music to run to, particularly when you’re looking for a beat to help you pick up the pace. This track, along with the others listed below, have certainly dragged me up a few hills on my longer runs. In addition, and perhaps more urgently necessary, with headphones in and songs like these blasting, you won’t be able to hear yourself frantically panting and wheezing (perhaps that’s just me?). For me, ‘Model Village’ is easily one of IDLES best songs to date and Talbot’s lyrics undoubtedly pack a (purely metaphorical) punch.  

 

Also listen to… 

  • Pretty much any IDLES song ever made 
  • ‘GET UP’ – Young Fathers 
  • ‘Doorman’ – Slowthai, Mura Masa 
  • ‘Boy From School’ – Hot Chip 
  • ‘Girls and Boys’ – Blur 
  • ‘Hong Kong Garden’ – Siouxsie and the Banshees 

 

 

 

Songs To: Remind You of The Positives of Being Home (It is Even Nicer If You’re Fortunate Enough To Be At Home With Loved Ones) 

 

‘For You’ – Laura Marling 

All of the songs in this section are so effortlessly simple that I can’t help but find them a little annoying. I say this because they all seem so bloody obvious, so easy to sing/hum along to yet, it is in their simplicity that their true beauty lies (and yes, I’ve included not one, but two Neil Young songs in my list because I could not choose between them, okay?).  

Marling’s whole album ‘Songs For Our Daughter’ could be described in this way and the last track, ‘For You’, is certainly no exception.  The lullaby is sparse, yet somehow still manages to be filled to the brim with love and emotion. “My forte, I think, is ambiguity, which is definitely still on there,” Marling recently said. “But on some of the songs, there’s just a very straightforward sentiment.” This is 100% true of ‘For You’, which discusses the topic of finding true, long-lasting love after years of searching - “I had called out for you / Almost every night/ Precious things are hard to find”. Absolutely they are Ms Marling, and I am very glad I stumbled across this little gem of a song. ‘For You’ is the generous parting gift of an already beautifully crafted album. It is in delicate, simple (I must state here that by using the word simple, I am in no way meaning easy) songs like these, that we are often reminded of home, a loved one or of happier times and what could possibly be more important during 2020? 

 

Also listen to…  

  • ‘Beautiful Bluebird’ – Neil Young 
  • ‘Home To You’ – Cate Le Bon 
  • ‘Diamond Day’ – Vashti Bunyan 
  • ‘This Must Be The Place (Na├»ve Melody)’ – Talking Heads 
  • ‘Harvest Moon’ – Neil Young 

 

 

It has been very tempting to listen to sad or gloomy music this year, but instead I have found great comfort in the songs listed above. 2020 has been a stark and frankly callous reminder of how short life can be but in spite of this, songs such as ‘Fashun’ and  ‘For You’ nourish the soul and are there to reassure you of how wonderful life can also be. I do hope that these tracks can help you as much as they have helped me. 

 

                                                                                                                By Eleanor Holloway-Pratt

- @e_hpratt 

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