Written by Ida V. Eskamani
How are you doing? Terrible?? Same.
We are all grieving— too many grieving loved ones gone; millions grieving lost jobs while facing inexplicable financial fears; and the lucky ones, mourning the lives previously planned, put on pause or derailed by the state of quarantine.
Inequities abound, survivors guilt exceeds wildest expectations, and the best and very worst of humanity comes to full display. Mutual aid funds, one million handmade masks, and working class heroes; juxtaposed by criminal negligence and disparity designed by a government run by corporate greed rather than the common good. We have an opportunity to recreate a more equitable world-- if we can survive these terrible, terrifying times.
In a world where hugs can kill you, it would serve us all better to be kinder to each other, and to our selves. Playlists are a love language of mine, so I thought I would write you a love letter. From my heavy heart to yours, here’s a lil’ pandemic playlist— twenty-five songs full of existential dread and unfounded resolve. I hope it helps.
"A friend came up to me, and she said 'why's it always gotta be just a sad, sad song, someone's falling apart. It's always not enough money and too much heart.'"
The Arrival's "Simple Pleasures in America" is a punk anthem for the have-nots of our country from a decade ago that's brought me comfort during these odd and tragic times. It's steadfast and earnest-- an attempt to find positivity among all the despair. It succeeds as much as any track, or person, could during COVID-19 times. Nervous Dater's swirling "Fun Dumpster" follows. Their 2017 album "Don't Be a Stranger" already perfectly encapsulated a generation of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Pair that with a pandemic and baby we are talkin' deep, dark, deeply satisfying emo. Is there anything else we need right now?? Yes, many, many things. But this will do in the meantime.
Philadelphia's Remember Sports have occupied a space in my sad heart for quite some time now. Their track "Nowhere To Be" holds a whole new meeting in the quarantine age. But also, do you actually remember sports? I do not. Speaking of sports, Modern Baseball's "Fine, Great" fits absurdly well in any punk pandemic playlist you may be cultivating. But that's not all. The songs-you-didn't-ever-think-would-be-perfect-for-a-pandemic-playlist trend continues throughout. Camp Cope's "Keep Growing," originally a breakup ballad is now a breakup ballad while coping with the end of the world. Spanish Love Song's newest record Brave Faces Everyone is the soundtrack of our generation, however their 2018 "Beer & NyQuil (Hold It Together) deserves special recognition in this moment for its prophetic opening lyrics alone: "I took forty-five steps today: Couch to bathroom to kitchen to couch."
"I had no idea what I was after, I'm just preparing for disaster, with everything feeling so far away."
Pup's Dark Days is my go-to song for when I'm feeling horrifyingly overwhelmed and woefully inadequate. I hope it's the medicine you need, too. Thin Lip's What's So Bad About Being Lonely, Orlando's own Wet Nurse's "Daily Whatever," and Good Friend's D.L.B. fit our spirits well; a lesson in succumbing to solitude, existing in the mundane, and being a whole-hearted honest disaster. Shitty Ballet is another sad song to make you feel better, but included in this particular playlist because it's a track by the band Bleached (please, do not drink it). Defiance, Ohio's Condition 11:11 is a folk-punk jam to get your spirits up, alongside Paul Baribeau's Ten Things and Matt Pless' Ashtray.
This playlists ends just as it starts, with commentary on our dear country in crisis. The Menzinger's America (You're Freaking Me Out) feels like the big hug you needed after watching the President tell everyone to drink bleach. You are not alone! We hear you! Do not drink bleach!! But please, I'm begging you, make your plan to vote.
"I don't know when it ends, but I'm counting the minutes. And I'm counting on you."
I hope these sad songs make you feel better. Or at least, comfort you in knowing that I am also horrified by everything happening around us. I'm so sorry for your struggle and I hope you're okay. If you're not, I'm here to listen.
Here’s to honoring the cherished lives lost. Protecting our frontline workers. Fighting for the have-nots, and building a better world for us all. xo.
Simple Pleasure in America by The Arrivals
Condition 11:11 by Defiance, Ohio
Dragged Across the Finish Line by Sincere Engineer
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.