Written by Maura Musial
“Music has healing power. It has the ability to take people out of themselves for a few hours.” – Elton John
There have been moments during this pandemic when the weight of the world and its troubles feel like it’s applying equal pressure to our hearts and minds; often, both at once. There have been good days and bad days. We have searched for comfort within our neighbourhoods, our daily walks, our conversations with family and friends, and within ourselves. One way I have found calm or felt relaxed in moments of stress, sadness, or when just feeling low, is through music, and all the many shapes it can come in.
Finding it hard to motivate and clean out that kitchen pantry you’ve been eyeing since March? Put a record on. Feeling as though you’ve worked out your body enough, but it’s time to start to work out your brain? Learn any song on an instrument. Feeling creatively stunted, but can’t find your paint kit or old drawing pad? Make a playlist – even better, send it to a friend.
Music is a way to keep moving. For me, music is something I look forward to everyday, and in a time of confusion and turmoil, we all need something to look forward to. There is always another artists album to explore, another song to digest and figure out, another playlist to work from home to. We have so much to gain from the art already at our fingertips, but it begs the question: Where will music go from here? Will our favourite artists use this time of solitude to create some of the most important albums of our lifetime? Will we get to see these projects come to life on a stage in the same way we’re used to?
The music industry (like most), has no doubt taken a massive hit during the pandemic. Tours were halted, studios shut down and quit production, and venues began closing down, some for good (RIP The Satellite; I will never forget your sweaty dance nights). While we may not know when we will be able to see live music again, surrounded by a packed crowd, some artists have been finding’s new, 2020 ways to perform their work.
In May, San Francisco Bay-area artist, Andrew St. James didn’t want to stay cooped up and unable to perform at some of the local venues he was used to fronting. So, with the help of a friend’s van, word-of-mouth, and social media, he began playing “drive-by” shows in various neighbourhoods around San Francisco. These makeshift shows were a source of joy and entertainment for residents who hadn’t seen much human interaction during quarantine.
While artists like St. James perform makeshift shows in-person or online, others are working hard to keep some of our most beloved venues alive. The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) has begun the #SaveOurStages initiative, based on legislation put forth to provide relief funding to over 2,400 small, independent music venues that may otherwise, never be able to reopen. Given the complications of safely allowing hundred of guests to enjoy a performance, music venues will no doubt be some of the last to open and will continue to struggle as the pandemic continues.
This pandemic has changed everything, but the anecdote to a sometimes-harsh reality is art, imagination, inspiration, and creativity in all forms. It’s important that we all remain hopeful and positive through tough times, and I personally have found that music can get me through just about everything.
In hopes that it can do the same for you, I’ve created a playlist inspired by nostalgia, fantasy, and fun. It’s intended to be a dosh of sunshine on those less-than-stellar days we all face during lockdown.