Music, Music Countdowns, Retro Rock

Quintessential Social Distancing Songs

Photo above by Amy Woodson

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Alone—Heart

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

The Police and their self titled compilation album which includes the song, “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.”

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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13 thoughts on “Quintessential Social Distancing Songs

  1. Laurie Russell says:

    Great read David (as always) Love your number one pick. I do not have the background and musical knowledge that you and our beloved David Hardie have!! I just like what I like. But I totally agree that during this time of isolation, music can and is, “soothing to ones soul”!!

  2. bruce bias says:

    Three Dog Night, Out in the Country. is my solution song. getting away for just awhile.
    Became a big fan of the Police when all my younger co-workers introduced me to Sting, Stewart, and Andy. perfect song for the stay away from me times

  3. Debra Davis says:

    David, as always I enjoy your Musical Musings on Social distancing during this time. Your choices are spot on. I thought about a song I have liked for years, Close to you, by the Carpenters. I know that is a no no now, but after the social distancing it should be on the top of the charts.

  4. David Randall Hardie says:

    DJ Dave, as usual an excellent blog that illustrates some very thought provoking and profound selections. Obviously well researched and organized. The Friday Drive on FB yesterday that I put together tried to add a mixture of the different categories you selected plus some songs that hopefully will make those think about the future will be like after this is over with my #1 The Times They Are a Changing by Bob Dylan which can fit into several generations. I enjoyed your blog as usual and consider it a Masterpiece by Rembrandt versus my Friday Drive’s 6th grade artwork. As usual brother Rock On !!!

  5. Bernard Johnson says:

    Man. This takes me waaaaay back. Child of the 60’s, Teen if the 70’ and adult in the 80’s. List is great. I’ll list a few of mine! I don’t have ten.
    All By Myself – Eric Carman

    Alone Again – Gilbert O’Sullivan

    Tired of being alone – Al Green

    Don’t let me Lonely Tonight- James Taylor

    My #1 song – Another Saturday Night and I ain’t got Nobody- San Cooke

  6. keith edward tuttle says:

    Good list there bro.. i must admit their were a few i did not know…i want to add in a few …. So Lonley Police, Eleanor Rigby The Beatles, Tea For One Led Zeppelin, Owner of a Lonley Heart Yes, Hey There Lonley Girl Eddie Holman, Only The Lonely The Motels, Lonley People America…..

  7. Dave Burt says:

    Dave, I’m surprised that you didn’t have Three Dog Night with “Mama told me not to come”!
    How about “I hear you knocking” (but you can’t come in) by Fats Domino.
    Would “Oh Lonesome me” by Don Gibson qualify?
    “Runaway” by Del Shannon.
    You got it, I’m stuck in the 50’s and 60’s era.
    I’m listening to “Lean on me” right now.

  8. Cat says:

    Great List!
    When you do a list about people staying home
    Check out “Work from Home” Hahahaha
    Fifth Harmony
    Definitely too suggestive but very funny as some many people are now working from home!

  9. Steve says:

    Hello Dave, great blog entry! My favorite section is the ‘Songs Outside the top 10’ section with songs by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Stevie Nicks. The Police at #1 is a good choice; I think my #1 for this topic would have been the Heart or Billy Idol songs that you put on the list.

  10. Charmaine Sims says:

    Great read, I enjoyed your selections, including a few that didn’t make the cut. Your music blogs and posts are bright spots that bring back memories and joy, something we definitely need always, especially in trying times!

    Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” is the one that came to mind most readily for me. Always loved the song “Alone” by Heart, and “I am a Rock” by Simon and Garfunkel. One of the greatest songs, “I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry” is a super oldie by the great Hank Williams. His version is awesome, but hearing it in the last year by granddaughter Holly Williams (on the Ken Burns special) was absolutely astounding.

    I’m finally reading this blog as our nation is beginning to reopen! I can’t claim I’ve been too busy – to quote Styx “too much time on my hands” – although I do stay busy to a certain extent, it’s more that I’ve been a bit preoccupied. It’s been a challenge for family helping out our elderly mom during this time of social distancing.

    All the more reason reading something positive, inspirational, and not just full of memories, and sometimes unexplored selections, but often triggers many others reading other people’s comments and memories, and reflecting on one’s own memories of music related to the theme, it’s as if it’s just exploding with more!

    Thanks once again!

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