Music Rules: The soundtrack for your quarantine period


On the lighter side of things. . . .

Below is a list of twenty songs I recommend for your fourteen months weeks days in quarantine to listen at your leisure.  Because you might have nothing else to do.

[ Update: There’s another song added to the end. ]


First up, a Statler Brothers hit recorded in March 1965, “Flowers On The Wall”:

“I keep hearing you’re concerned about my happiness

All that thought you’re giving me is conscience I guess

If I were walking in your shoes I wouldn’t worry none,

While you’re out there and thinking about me,

I’m having lots of fun

Counting flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all

Playing solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of 51

Smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo

Now don’t tell me I’ve nothing to do”

I think you can guess where this is going. . . .

Men At Work from 1981, “Who Can It Be Now”:

“Who can it be knocking at my door?

Go ‘way, don’t come ’round here no more

Can’t you see that it’s late at night?

I’m very tired and I’m not feeling right

All I wish is to be alone

Stay away, don’t you invade my home

Best off if you hang outside

Don’t come in, I’ll only run and hide”


And another from Men At Work, 1983’s “Overkill”:

“I can’t get to sleep

I think about the implications

Of diving in too deep

And possibly the complications

Especially at night

I worry over situations

I know will be alright

Perhaps it’s just imagination

Day after day it reappears

Night after night

My heartbeat shows the fear

Ghosts appear and fade away”


Freddie Mercury from 1987, “Living On My Own”:

“Sometimes I feel I’m gonna break down and cry, so lonely

Nowhere to go, nothing to do with my time

I get lonely, so lonely, living on my own.

Sometimes I feel I’m always walking too fast, so lonely

And everything is coming down on me, down on me, I go crazy

Oh so crazy, living on my own.”


Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Looking Out For #1” from 1975. I love the Lenny Breau influence in Bachman’s playing.

“And you’ll find out every trick in the book

That there’s only one way to get things done

You’ll find out the only way to the top

Is looking out for number one

I mean you

Keep looking out for number one”


Blondie, “Island Of Lost Souls” from 1982:

“No luxuries, no no amenities

To dull your senses

Oh oh only primitive

‘Hey hey really get away,’ is what he said”


The Fixx, “Secret Separation” from 1986:

“We’re passengers in time lost in motion

Locked together day and night by trick of light”


David Wilcox, “Cabin Fever”, from 1987.  In case you have it.


The Jim Carroll Band, “People Who Died”, 1980.


Dire Straits, “Industrial Disease”, 1982.


Richard Thompson, 1991’s “Keep Your Distance”, something we’re supposed to be doing.

“Keep your distance, oh keep your distance

When I feel you close to me what can I do but fall

Keep your distance, keep your distance

Ah with us it must be all or none at all”


Pink Floyd, “Is There Anybody Out There?” from 1979’s The Wall.


Ian Thomas’s “Levity” from 1988, because that’s enough levity.

“Empty eyes and they are such lonely ones

Under city lights, you feel you’re the only one

That’s left alive, up and down the empty streets

No stars in your sky, nothing’s where it used to be”


Linda and Richard Thompson, “Lonely Hearts”, from 1980:

“We may never meet in the light of day

If we passed on the street would be look the other way?

[…]

No one needs a friend, no one cares no more

They’ll look hard at you, they won’t take the chain off the door

They work and slave keep their conscience clean

They come home at night and they talk to an empty screen”


Red Rider, “Cowboys In Hong Kong” from 1981:

“Me and some friends

We been buddies since Boca Raton

Signed on a ship

To take a trip to old Taiwan

Got as far as Siam

Took it on the lam

Arrived in Hong Kong with all our money gone

We joined up with a gang when

We found we couldn’t go home

We still remain here

Though we don’t belong

That’s what they call us

Cowboys in Hong Kong”


Rush’s “Nobody’s Hero”, from 1993.  Dedicated to those long derided as “unskilled labour”, the people that society now depends on to maintain civility and keep people alive.  And to teachers, finally being appreciated now that parents are having to homeschool their kids.

“But he’s nobody’s hero

Saves a drowning child, cures a wasting disease

Hero

Lands the crippled airplane, solves great mysteries

[…]

But she’s nobody’s hero

Is the voice of reason against the howling mob

Hero

Is the pride of purpose in the unrewarding job


Emerson, Lake and Powell, “Touch And Go”, 1986:

“Man in the street nowhere to sleep

No time for nothing no Patek Phillipe

Pedal to the metal Blow by Blow

You’re runnin’ with the devil it’s touch and go”


Rush, “Freeze”, 2002. It’s part 4 of the fear trilogy: fight or flight.

“The city crouches, steaming

In the early morning half light

The sun is still a rumor

And the night is still a threat

Slipping through the dark streets

And the echoes and the shadows

Something stirs behind me

And my palms begin to sweat

Sometimes I freeze, until the light comes

Sometimes I fly, into the night

Sometimes I fight, against the darkness

Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes I’m right”


Three loud ones in a row:

Bad Religion, “Infected”, 1994.

KMFDM, “Virus”, 1990.

Disturbed, “Down With The Sickness”, from 2000.


And last but not least, Iron Maiden’s “Total Eclipse”, 1982.  No, I’m not suggesting that COVID-19 is bringing the end of the world.

“Cold as steel the darkness waits

It’s hour will come

A cry of fear for the chosen worshipping the sun

Mother natures black revenge on those who waste her life

War babies in the garden of Eden

Shall turn our ashes to ice

Sunrise is gone, freezing up the fires

Sunrise is gone, numbing all desires

Sunrise is gone

Sunrise is gone

Around the world the people stop with terror-stricken eyes

A shadow cast upon them all to crush them like a fly

In the icy rain and whiplashed seas

There’s nowhere left to run

The hammer blows of winter fall like a hurricane

Sunrise is gone, freezing up the fires

Sunrise is gone, numbing all desires

Around the world the nations wait

For some wise words from their leading light

You know it’s not only madmen who listen to fools

Is this the end the millions cried

Clutching their riches as they died

Those who survive must weather the storm

Gone are the days when man looked down

They’ve taken away his sacred crown

To be so free, it took so long

It’s not the journeys end, it’s just begun”


One more addition to the list: Greg Kihn’s “Horror Show”, 1997.

I had this in mind when originally creating the list, but didn’t want to associated it with current events.  Then something personal happened on Thursday.


Aaaaand of course, I always forget one more….

Billy Bragg’s “Wishing The Days Away” (1986) is a song about a touring musician, but it might as well be about quarantine.

On Monday I wished it was Tuesday night

So I could wish for the weekend to come

On Tuesday I wished that the night would pass

So I could call you on the phone

Now a man can spend a lot of time

Wondering what was on Jack Ruby’s mind

And time is all I have without you here

 

On Wednesday when you hung up

It was as much as I could do

To stop from wishing Thursday

Would pass so quickly too

They’re out there making history

In the Lenin shipyards today

And here I am in the Hammersmith Hotel

Wishing the days away

 

There’s always room for one more soul

Down in the human zoo

I don’t want you to come here though

I want to come home to you

Somebody’s knocking at the door

Its later than I think

And its time to put on these stinking clothes

And get out there and stink

 

On Friday I wished there was something more

To be seen in the letters you send

On Saturday I wished it was Sunday

Oh will this torment ever end

Sometimes I get a notion to put a torch

To the tools of my trade

Here I am in the Hammersmith Hotel

Wishing the days away


Aaaaaaand one more, for those who are social distancing.

The Headstones, “Smile And Wave” (1996):

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