Are there any songs about lockdown and social distancing yet? There ought to be. There are always songs about difficult times. There are so many wartime songs; and there are songs about famine, about the Depression, about the Cold War, about apartheid, about AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, and about slavery. Maybe there are coronavirus era songs. I’m so old and out of touch that I probably wouldn’t know 🙂 – I only listen to stations playing music from the 1980s and early 1990s.
I can hear pretty much any well-known songs from the mid-’80s to the mid-’90s and know, without even having to think about it, exactly when it was around and what was going on in my life at the time. For example, a good song for this month – other than “Summer Rain” by Belinda Carlisle – would be “Back To Life” by Soul II Soul, but, great song though it is, I’ve always had a bit of a problem with it because it was number 1 on the day of the disastrous 1989 Wimbledon final, which I broke my heart over! Songs from 1989 are like that: they immediately take me back there.
At some point in the mid-1990s, I lost my soundtrack. Maybe I just got old and past it. Maybe, once you’re out of full time education and have moved into the working world, things are different. Maybe I just didn’t want my life at that time to be defined by the Spice Girls, All Saints and B*Witched! But it feels as if there needs to be music which says 2020, which will always speak about this very strange year in our lives.
Maybe there will be. Meanwhile, here’s a list of ten old favourites which all seem to say something about a time their composers and singers could never have seen coming.
- Depeche Mode, Enjoy The Silence – this was a song for very early on in lockdown, when it hit me that I could hear bees buzzing and birds singing, because there was no traffic noise. The traffic noise is back now. It’s one thing I really didn’t miss!
- Bryan Adams, Summer of ’69 – this (just slightly ahead of Eternal Flame by The Bangles) is my all-time favourite, and the lines about “Ain’t no use in complaining”,” And now the times are changing” and “I guess nothing can last for ever” seem very apt for 2020.
- Dame Vera Lynn RIP, We’ll Meet Again – it was so sad that the great Dame Vera died in the middle of all this, and just when that wonderful wartime song, quoted by the Queen in her speech in April, was inspiring and comforting everyone all over again. April seems so long ago now, but I’m still welling up when I think about that song and that speech.
- A-ha, Stay On These Roads – another one for the days of full lockdown. “We shall meet, I know.”
- Roxette, Spending My Time – this was one for the more difficult days, when it felt as if we were just marking time. Roxette songs are great for difficult times. “Life will go on.”
- The Beautiful South, Manchester – ignoring the jokes about the rain (it was actually dry and sunny throughout late March, April and much of May), this has been a time for staying close to home. For weeks and weeks, I barely left my own suburb, because we weren’t supposed to go out except for essential shopping and an hour a day’s exercise! I must go into town again soon: businesses need our support.
- Georgie Fame, Sitting In the Park – I have been to the park nearly every day. I don’t know what I’d have done without it, those first weeks.
- Belinda Carlisle, Summer Rain – how typical of the Great British Weather that we had blue sky and sunshine throughout the weeks when we couldn’t go out, and now, when people want to be heading off on days out and staycations, it’s one wet day after another.
- Soul II Soul, Back To Life – Wimbledon traumas aside, this really is a song for July 2020, as well as for July 1989. “Back to life, back to reality …” … well, sort of.
- The Proclaimers, Over And Done With – this is the ultimate anti-anxiety song. Will this nightmare ever be over and done with? Well, yes, it will. One day.
I need a 2020 song about 2020, though. But I’m so out of touch that I don’t even know who’s in the charts these days. Are they even still called “the charts”? Someone from the ’80s record a song about social distancing and masks and everything else about these strange, strange times, to bring us together and help us get through it all, please? And so that there’ll be music about these times, like there’s music about the difficult times of the past.