Well, here we are in our 10th month of Pandemic times in the United States (I’m using February as my starting point).
There’s a certain calm, at least, that comes with doing this so long. I remember back in March, wondering “for how long will this be the way life is?”
Now, as the geese fly South and leave us behind, I understand that the anxiety of “how long” has minimizing returns.
At first, hope felt reliable.
“One month, three tops.”
“This may just now be a way of life.”
Hope has become irrelevant. I’ve stopped accepting a suggested timeline as news.
Frankly, hope takes energy, and energy is a finite resource.
I have a good friend who I’ve referenced in many pieces—and I’m about to do so again. If life is a string band, she is my cello. Back in the days before we could pay to download music, she used to tell me in hard times, “I wish I could gift you a song.” She saw the world in lyric and note, and she knew exactly which song she’d send to each of her people.
She understood that when the energy of resistance, or even just the energy of existence, is hard to muster—music is the salve.
Music requests nothing in return. You can give it all of your attention. You can put it in the corner, make it a backdrop. You can dance. You can feel. You can exhale. You can run. You can do all, or none, or one, and music doesn’t care.
Music just is. A sun that shines, a rain that falls.
All you have to do is lay yourself out under it.
I had the thought to suggest a song, a gifted ode to Americans, to keep us going. I realized soon after that was self-centered. Impossible.
I love slow, guttural, heart-bursters. Let’s just say I was never allowed to DJ our parties in college. (I’m a poet. What did you expect?)
No—I’d need input.
I asked for songs, via social media, via text, via phone—I asked my networks what songs they’d gift to the rest to “hang in.” To stay warm. To stick through. Here’s what I got, in no real order. A mix of high, and low, and painful, and something like joy, and if that’s not the best way to make a playlist for 2020, I don’t know what is.
Disclaimer: I did allow myself, uniquely, two additions to the list rather than one. When you’re the author, you’re allowed certain concessions.
And so, here we have it: A Mixtape for 2020.
1. “Reflections” by Misterwives
“It’s about a breakup but it can also be applied to feelings about 2020.” ~ Amy
2. “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
Suggested by Ashley C.
3. “I Feel Home” by OAR
“Reminds me of fun times, to live in the moment, and also allows a good cry if you’re in need!” ~ Whitney
4. “Hard to Trust Your Baby” by The Hooten Hallers
“It’s a great ‘clean house’ song!” ~ Alta
5. “Undo” by Bjork
“One of my absolute favorite songs to calm down, take a breath, and change my perspective.” ~ Megan
6. “Don’t Leave” by Arizona
“I like the bop.” ~ Ashley W.
7. “C’mon” by Amy Shark
“The lyrics connect when feeling down, while the melody makes you want to dance.” ~ Morgan
8. “Shake Me Down” by Cage the Elephant
This song does it all—lifts you up, smacks you down, caresses you back to life. I saw this live at Mission Ballroom—he jumped into the crowd and crooned “Even on a cloudy day,” laid out on the palms of our hands. It was life-changing.
9. “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga
“No matter what, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way always SLAMS for me.” ~ Danielle
10. “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison
“Crack it! Feel it! Love it!” ~ Kristi
11. “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
Suggested by Julie.
12. “Beautiful” by Carole King
“Carol has been with me my entire life. She’s walked me lovingly through far more than 2020.” ~ Michaela
13. “Happy Days Are Here Again” by Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand
Suggested by Glenn.
14. “Shake it Out” by Florence and the Machine
Suggested by Jillmarie.
15. “Perfect Symphony (with Andrew Bocelli)” by Ed Sheeran
“Something more uplifting that I blast when I’m cooking.” ~ Monique
16. “There Will Be Time” by Mumford & Sons, Baaba Maal
Suggested by Jenny.
17. “Heart” by Rainbow Kitten Surprise
Suggested by Corey.
18. “Rebel” by Alyssa Bonagura
“Everybody’s pulling me in all kinds of directions, tryna tell me what to say, how to think and feel. Truth is that every soul’s continually searching. We think we know but we have no idea.” ~ Brittany H.
19. “What the Water Gave Me” by Florence and the Machine
Suggested by Tori F.
20. “This Too Shall Last” by Anderson East
“’We got the love to make it through the night.’ This song is on repeat for me, helping me process this storm and holding the door tight.”~ Kindilyn
21. “Dance Yrself Clean” by LCD Soundsystem
“To shake the demons.” ~ Kelsey
22. “Together” by Sia
“Hands down on repeat lately.” ~ Casey
23. “Stars” by Grace Potter
Singing this full-lunged, windows down, driving through whatever field or mountains you have. Like—you have to really belt. Louder!
Don’t give up—
We’re all in this,
To the music
Keep the playlist going—what song would you gift to the rest of us, and why? Leave it in the comments, where we’ll find it. Much love.