April 2020: With the Coronavirus pandemic sweeping across our world, normal everyday life activities have come to a screeching halt. Our existence has been temporarily transformed: From freely associating and interacting with other humans, including some family members, friends and acquaintances, to a new dynamic called social distancing.
How to deal with this new social distancing model has been a challenge for many of us. One of the ways that I have tried to maintain an ability to think and behave in a rational manner is through my Christian faith.
One other mechanism that I am using through these times of social distancing is music therapy. Utilizing music during this time has been powerful for me.
Stevie Wonder’s song “Sir Duke” summarizes accurately how music can bring unity in our world:
“Music is a world within itself
With a language we all understand
With an equal opportunity
For all to sing, dance and clap their hands
Music knows it is and always will
Be one of the things that life just won’t quit.”
Although I utilize music for my own therapeutic proposes, I am not advocating that there are individual songs or genres of music that are perfect for social distancing.
So what are the perfect social distancing songs for you? As Mama Cass Elliott sang on her, “Make Your Own Kind of Music” hit from 1969:
“You gotta make your own kind of music
Sing your own special song
Make your own kind of music
Even if nobody else sings along”
My advice to all reading this message: Choose songs and music that is right for you when engaging in music therapy for yourself. Any type of music or songs that you already love should be included during your musical sessions.
The genesis for this latest music blog came to me a couple of weeks ago when I was a substitute host for a weekly music show on social media. My friend David Hardie asked me to come up with 10 songs with a common theme for his “Friday Drive” show.
The theme I selected when hosting the “Friday Drive” was 10 perfect social distancing songs. The criteria of the songs that I picked: All of the tunes needed to have something that related to social distancing, somewhere in the title of the song.
Before I narrowed my listing to 10 songs, there were a few songs I had to eliminate.
- End of the world songs: I love R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) and ‘End of the World” by Skeeter Davis. However, Coronavirus is not the end of the world. One day we will resume normal living options and I choose to be optimistic instead of pessimistic with our current situation.
- Songs that lyrically fit but not favorites for me: “Alone Again Naturally” Gilbert O’Sullivan, “Isolation” John Lennon and “Behind the Mask” Michael Jackson.
- Lyrics about social distancing but song title ambiguous: “Get Off of My Cloud” Rolling Stones, “My Life” Billy Joel and “I Am a Rock” Simon & Garfunkel.
- Songs of Optimism: “I Will Survive” Gloria Gaynor and “Things Will Only Get Better” Howard Jones.
- Songs just outside the top 10: “Out of Touch” Hall & Oates, “Human Touch” Bruce Springsteen, “Don’t Come Around Here No More” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Stand Back” Stevie Nicks, “So Far Away” Carole King.
In order for a song to be in my top 10, I set up the following criteria:
- The title of the song had to be lyrically related to our current social distancing protocol.
- I actually had to love listening to the song myself. Thus, horrid, insipid songs like Donny Osmond’s “Go Away Little Girl” would never be used, even if the song title fits the category!
Now I submit to you, my top 10 playlist of quintessential social distancing songs:
- Get Back—The Beatles
This number 1 single from the Beatles spent 5 weeks at the top spot during May and June 1969. “Get Back” is my 4th favorite Fab Four song of all time.
- Keep Your Hands to Yourself—Georgia Satellites
Southern rock band Georgia Satellites reached number 2 with their novelty song “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” in February 1987. The band is considered a one hit wonder.
- Go Your Own Way—Fleetwood Mac
The first record from the legendary “Rumours” album, this Fleetwood Mac song peaked at number 10 in the winter of 1977. “Go Your Own Way” paved the way for 3 other top 10 singles in America that year.
- All By Myself—Eric Carmen
Former Raspberries lead singer Eric Carmen took the chorus from his band’s song, “Let’s Pretend” and mixed a Rachmaninoff piano concerto, to create a masterpiece. “All By Myself” hit number 1 with the Cash Box Top 100 chart in 1976.
One of the best power ballads ever recorded by sisters Nancy and Ann Wilson. Heart’s song “Alone” vaulted to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and became the 2nd biggest record of 1987.
- I Think We’re Alone Now—Tommy James & the Shondells
After “Hanky Panky” topped the charts in 1966, Tommy James & the Shondells came back strong in 1967 with their up tempo smash, “I Think We’re Alone Now.” The song peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
- Dancing With Myself—Billy Idol
Interesting facts about “Dancing With Myself” and Billy Idol: As lead singer of the new wave band Gen X, his band had a United Kingdom hit with the song in 1980. After his band broke up, Idol recorded the song as a solo artist and it became a hit in America during 1981.
- Too Much Time on My Hands—Styx
Tommy Shaw both wrote and is the lead singer on “Too Much Time On My Hands” which came from the 1981 triple-platinum “Paradise Theatre” album. The song was a top ten hit on both AOR and Top 40 radio stations during the spring of 1981.
- One—Three Dog Night
Harry Nilsson wrote the lyrics for “One” and the song became the first top ten hit for Three Dog Night, reaching number 2 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart. The band then went on to chart 21 straight Top 40 hits from the summer of 1969 until 1975.
- Don’t Stand So Close to Me—The Police
Winning a Grammy Award for “Best Rock Performance” in 1981, the Police had an international smash with their song “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.” Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland put together a winning sound with Top 40 and rock radio listeners 39 years ago.
So there you go: The Police and their “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” is my number 1 quintessential social distancing song of all time.
Now that I have humbly submitted my thoughts on favorite quintessential social distancing songs, I am curious to find out your opinions on this topic.
Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of excellent social distancing tunes. Your top ten listing of songs maybe totally be different from my selections.
So I am asking for your thoughts: What do you consider to be the best social distancing songs? There are no right or wrong answers.
I am hoping this message will be an encouragement to you. The power of music can be used as a powerful tool to lift up our spirits during trying times.
As German Baroque classical music composer Johann Sebastian Bach stated during the 18th Century, “Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God and the permissible delights of the soul.”
Let music be therapeutic for your soul. Rock on!
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