All I need is the air that I breathe

A scant two weeks ago, it was still funny to repeat the joke, “The best way to beat the Coronavirus is to switch to Dos Equis.”

But now it has become clear that we all need to get with the program for at least the next few weeks and limit interactions with groups of 10 or more.  Better yet, just do what I’m doing:  Stay home.

images-143

Hey, it’s not so bad.  There’s plenty to do around the house.  You can be productive and clean closets, or paint a room, or write a letter (remember writing letters?).  Or you can just chill.  Bingewatch something on Netflix, or read a good book, or have more sex (remember sex?).

Regardless of how you spend your time piddling around the house, you’re going to need a Quarantine Playlist, otherwise known as Quaran-tunes!

Social media is full of comedians, and the other day I saw that someone had come up with a list of song titles that had been altered by a word or two so they would be great for a quarantine playlist:

“Don’t Wanna Hold Your Hand,” The Beatles

“Tangled Up in Flu,” Bob Dylan

“You Can Leave Your Mask On,” Joe Cocker

“The Closer I Get to You (I Get Infected),” Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack

“My Corona,” The Knack

“Everybody Was Kung Flu Fighting,” Carl Douglas

“Tainted Glove,” Soft Cell

“(Don’t) Stand By Me,” Ben E. King

“Stuck in the Middle With Flu,” Stealer’s Wheel

“We Will, We Will Wash You,” Queen

“(Don’t Want to Be) Close to You,” The Carpenters

“When Will I Be Gloved,” Linda Ronstadt

“(Don’t) Touch Me in the Morning,” Diana Ross

“Sometimes When We Touch (I Get Infected),” Dan Hill

“Killing Me Softly With His Virus,” Roberta Flack

“I Got Flu Babe,” Sonny & Cher

Amusing, to be sure.

But I’ve collected another set of 16 “quarantunes” that can be played just as they are, with titles that are right on the money for what we’re going through.  Songs that you can snuggle up to as you stay home for a while.  Enjoy.  As best you can.

******************

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” The Police, 1980

Unknown-208In the verses of this classic from The Police’s “Zenyatta Mondatta” LP, which reached #10 in the US and #1 in their native UK, Sting is singing about an improper flirtation between a teacher and young student, but the chorus certainly works for someone in quarantine.  You might want to pogo-dance around the room to this song to break the monotony of your temporary life in close quarters.

“I Want a New Drug,” Huey Lewis and The News, 1983

Unknown-211Lewis and his band had to face uptight authorities who claimed this song glorified drug use…until they took the time to read the lyrics!  He ended up scoring a #1 hit with this tune, which refers to his need for a drug “that makes me feel like I feel when I’m with you.”  These days, we’re all looking for the new drug that will stop the Coronavirus so we can get back to some sense of normalcy.  Here’s hoping one of the world’s many scientists comes up with the vaccine soon!

“All By Myself,” Eric Carmen, 1975

Unknown-214The former leader of The Raspberries has taken a lot of abuse for this maudlin song from his first solo LP, which may have been a big success commercially, but for some people, it’s cringeworthy.  The musical structure of the verses borrows heavily from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, and the chorus is taken from a previous Carmen tune, “Let’s Pretend,” from the debut Raspberries LP.  A song for self-quarantine?  More like a song for self-pity.

“Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” Johnny Rivers, 1972

Unknown-225This contagious rock and roll tune was written and first recorded by the great Huey “Piano” Smith, an R&B keyboard wonder who helped influence early rock and roll.  Smith’s lively rendition foundered on the charts at #56, but in 1972, Louisiana-raised Johnny Rivers stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with his version, which reached #6 and stayed on the charts for an impressive four months.  If there was ever an ideal quarantine song, this is it.

“From a Distance,” Bette Midler, 1990

Unknown-209Much like Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself,” this dramatic ballad elicits wildly different responses.  Songwriter Julie Gold took home a Song of the Year Grammy for it, and Bette Midler’s rendition reached #2 on the pop charts, but conversely, a VH-S one viewers’ poll ranked “From a Distance” among the “50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever.”  All I know is it’s an appropriate song for those of us practicing social distancing.

“Tired of Being Alone,” Al Green, 1971

Unknown-210The Reverend Green is singing about how he would prefer to be in a relationship and no longer wants to be on his own.  For those of you who live on your own and have chosen to self-quarantine, I imagine it might get pretty boring and lonely.  We all need company to keep from going stir-crazy, so I suggest you try FaceTime, or even just a regular old phone call to stay in touch with friends and family…

“Fever,” Elvis Presley, 1965

Unknown-213Written in 1956, first recorded by R&B singer Little Willie John, popularized by Peggy Lee and later recorded by such luminaries as Elvis Presley, Madonna and Beyoncé, “Fever” has been through a ton of different arrangements over more than 60 years.  For my money, I think Presley’s version comes closest to capturing the smoldering love that songwriter Otis Blackwell was trying to describe.  Here’s hoping any fever you get is not from the current virus threat.

“In My Room,” The Beach Boys, 1963

Unknown-215Brian Wilson is responsible for some truly iconic songs during his peak years of 1963-1966, perhaps none as wistful and lovely as this one.  He struck a chord with kids everywhere who cherished the times they spent alone in their rooms.  We can maybe learn something from the sentiment behind Wilson’s song, which reminds us that being sequestered in our rooms doesn’t have to be a punishment.

“Don’t Touch Me There,” The Tubes, 1975

Unknown-216This naughtily campy rock band from San Francisco actually did better in England than the U.S., but maverick FM stations here played some of their better tunes, most notably “White Punks on Dope,” “What Do You Want From Life,” “Slipped My Disco” and the outrageously salacious “Don’t Touch Me There.”  It fits right in to our playlist, especially if you sing, “Don’t touch me here, or there, or anywhere for the time being.”

“I Will Survive,” Gloria Gaynor, 1979

Unknown-218One of the most challenging things about this crisis, for me and many of you, is the uncertainty that looms over everything.  To stave off the anxiety, it’s advisable to keep a positive attitude, and one of the best soundtracks for that is this Gloria Gaynor disco era classic, a favorite of women in karaoke bars everywhere.  Most of us most assuredly will survive, especially with songs like this to lift our spirits.

“Don’t Bother Me,” The Beatles, 1963

Unknown-219George Harrison said he was sick in bed with the flu when he wrote this gloomy song for The Beatles’ second LP, “With The Beatles.”  It was the first Harrison original to be recorded by the band, and its sullen mood was atypical for the group at the time.  “I wasn’t contagious or anything, I just felt awful and didn’t want anyone around,” he said, and the lyrics — “So go away, leave me alone, don’t bother me”— certainly reflect that.

“I Can’t Get Next to You,” The Temptations, 1969

IUnknown-220n this 1969 Number One hit by the Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, The Temptations sing about all the things they can do, but the one thing they can’t do is get next to you.  They don’t say why, exactly — perhaps she’s living many miles away, or she’s given her heart to someone else.  It doesn’t seem likely it’s because she’s been quarantined, but we can always make believe that’s the reason.

“The Fever,” Southside Johnny & Asbury Jukes, 1976

images-146Bruce Springsteen wrote this awesome slow bluesy tune in 1973 but never officially recorded it.  There’s a seven-minute demo that exists, and he performed it live a few times, but instead he chose to give it to his pal Southside Johnny Lyon to include on his debut LP, “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” with The Asbury Jukes.  Excellent rendition, and ideal for those who have, or had, or may still get, The Fever.

“Alone Again (Naturally),” Gilbert O’Sullivan, 1972

Unknown-221Born Ray Sullivan in Waterford, Ireland, this singer-songwriter was enormously popular in Ireland and England for a five-year arc, with some substantial US chart success too.  “Clair” (#2), “Get Down” (#7) and “Out of the Question” (#17) all did well during 1972-1973, but none could top “Alone Again (Naturally),” which sat at #1 for six weeks in the summer of ’72.  It’s another woe-is-me pity party, but it always tugged at my heartstrings, and it might get you through a sad moment or two.

“Sacrifice,” Elton John, 1989

Unknown-222Nobody wants to be quarantined, particularly if they show no symptoms and are doing it just because it’s the right thing to do for the greater good of the community at large.  That’s called sacrifice, folks, just like Elton John sang about on this gorgeous tune from his “Sleeping With the Past” LP, which reached #18 in the US and #3 in the UK.  Interestingly, the song is about a breakup of a marriage where the loss of the relationship is considered to be, in fact, “no sacrifice.”

“The Last Mall,” Steely Dan, 2003

Unknown-223The black-humor duo of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were at it again on “Everything Must Go,” their late-career entry in their stunning Steely Dan catalog of great albums.  The first track offers a wickedly doomsday portrait of what a shopping excursion might look like on the eve of the apocalypse:  “Attention, all shoppers, it’s Cancellation Day, yes the Big Adios is just a few hours away, it’s last call to do your shopping at the last mall…”  Things aren’t that bad, of course — at least not yet.

*******************

The attached Spotify playlist corresponds to the 16 songs I’ve highlighted above.

 

images-147

As previously mentioned, we can also spend our quarantine time enjoying untold hours of hilarity watching reruns of old sitcoms, or our favorite full-length comedy films, or, as my Prime Pick of the Week, “Dizzy Doctors,” the classic 1938 Three Stooges episode where Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine and Dr. Howard wreak havoc on the health care system.

 

images-145

 

 

 

 

 

Time time time, see what’s become of me

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”  Albert Einstein

Last weekend, just as the clock was about to strike 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning, instead it went magically to 3:00 a.m.  WTF.  Who knows where the time goes?  Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does anybody really care?

PDZRWJHE2FC7RDCDADJHCXDEAY

Daylight savings time (DST), this curious semi-annual ritual of moving our clocks forward one hour each spring, then backward one hour each fall, has outlived its usefulness, if indeed it ever had any.

First officially adopted by Germany and Austria in 1916 during World War I, DST arguably made sense then because more daylight meant less use of artificial light, thereby purportedly saving energy.

But modern American society, with its ubiquitous computers, TV screens and air conditioning, pays no mind to whether the sun is up or not.  The amount of energy saved in this country from converting to DST is negligible at best.

Moreover, changing the time, even if it is only by one hour, disrupts our body clocks, our circadian rhythm, and it can take up to two weeks to re-establish our sleep patterns.  For most people, the resulting fatigue is simply an inconvenience, but for others, the time change can result in more serious consequences, including an increase in auto accidents and workplaces injuries, as well as depression and suicide.

There are proposals being discussed in state legislatures to end this nonsense by adopting a permanent daylight savings time.  Sounds like a great idea to me.

Popular music of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s reminds us that we take time, give time, make time, waste time.  It’s the right time, the wrong time, the first time, the last time.  Buddha said, “The trouble is, we think we have time.”

A quick review reveals hundreds of song titles referring to time.  I’ve whittled the list down to 15 for closer inspection, followed by a lengthy list of honorable mentions.  As is customary at Hack’s Back Pages, there’s an accompanying playlist for your listening pleasure.

The time has come!  Crank it up!

*****************

“Time Passages,” Al Stewart, 1978

images-138Many of singer-songwriter Al Stewart’s songs told stories with fictional characters from olden days, while other tunes focused on present-day concerns.  Taking trips down memory lane can be enjoyable, he says, but he prefers to stay in the present and not get caught up reminiscing about things from the past you can’t change:  “Well I’m not the kind to live in the pastthe years run too short and the days too fastthe things you lean on are the things that don’t lastwell it’s just now and then my line gets cast into these time passages…”

“The Last Time,” The Rolling Stones, 1965

Unknown-201Even in their earliest days of songwriting, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards showed the ability to address weighty subjects that had universal relevance. On “The Last Time,” which cracked the Top Ten in the U.S., the lyrics reminded us how we can let opportunities slip away from us if we take too long too act on them:  “Well, I told you once and I told you twice, that someone will have to pay the price, but here’s a chance to change your mind ’cause I’ll be gone a long, long time, well, this could be the last time, this could be the last time, maybe the last time, I don’t know, oh no…”

“This is the Time,” Billy Joel, 1986

Unknown-203On his Top 10 album “The Bridge,” Joel scored three Top 20 singles, including “This is the Time,” a poignant reflection on how we love to cling to great times in our past despite the fact that time and circumstances inevitably change:  “This is the time to remember’cause it will not last forever, these are the days to hold on to, ’cause we won’t, although we’ll want to, this is the time, but time is gonna change, you’ve given me the best of you, and now I need the rest of you…”

“Long Time Gone,” Crosby, Stills and Nash, 1969

Unknown-200As David Crosby and Stephen Stills were first teaming up in 1968 and then recruiting Graham Nash to join them, the world outside seemed to be coming apart at the seams.  The assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy inspired Crosby to write this disturbing treatise on how dark times can seem endless, even though better times arrive eventually:  “Don’t you know the darkest hour is always just before the dawn, and it appears to be a long, appears to be a long, appears to be a long time, such a long, long, long, long time before the dawn…”

“Time,” Pink Floyd, 1973

Unknown-199“Dark Side of the Moon,” one of the most successful rock albums in history, focuses lyrically on insanity, greed, death and the passage of time.  In the song “Time,” songwriter Roger Waters examines how its passage can control one’s life, and offers a stark warning to those who remain focused on mundane aspects:  “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day, fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way, kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town, waiting for someone or something to show you the way…”

“Time Will Crawl,” David Bowie, 1987

Unknown-202Bowie was always one of rock’s more serious-minded lyricists, from “Space Oddity” on his first album through “Heroes” and “Ashes to Ashes” in his Berlin trilogy.  As he points out in the rather dystopian “Time Will Crawl” from his mid-’80s LP “Never Let Me Down,” time has a way of moving painfully slowly when things aren’t going well:  “Time will crawl ’til our mouths run drytime will crawl ’til our feet grow smalltime will crawl ’til our tails fall offtime will crawl ’til the 21st century lose…”

“Get it Right Next Time,” Gerry Rafferty, 1979

Unknown-206Perseverance is the theme of Rafferty’s irresistible 1979 hit single “Get It Right Next Time,” in which the narrator encourages us to maintain a positive outlook and keep trying after previous attempts have failed:  “Life is a liar, yeah, life is a cheat, it’ll lead you on and pull the ground from underneath your feet, no use complainin’, don’t you worry, don’t you whine, ’cause if you get it wrong, you’ll get it right next time, next time…”

“Time After Time,” Cyndi Lauper, 1983

Unknown-204It’s always very comforting to know that you can count on another person to always be there for you when you need them.  In “Time After Time,” Lauper’s pretty melody goes nicely with lyrics that underscore the importance of undying reliability:  “You said, ‘Go slow,’ I fall behindthe second hand unwindsif you’re lost, you can look and you will find me time after timeif you fall, I will catch you, I’ll be waiting time after time…”

“Time Has Come Today,” The Chambers Brothers, 1968

Unknown-205One of my favorite songs from the heady days of 1968 psychedelia was this strident track by The Chambers Brothers.  The arrangement uses dramatic tempo changes as the vocalists repeatedly shout “Time!”  Its lyrics speak about the need to avoid procrastination and act now before it’s too late:  “Now the time has come, there’s no place to run, now the time has come, there are things to realize, time has come today…” 

“Take the Time,” Michael Stanley Band, 1982

Unknown-196Cleveland’s Michael Stanley not only wrote great rock songs that should have received far more airplay nationally than they did, he penned some solid lyrics that are certainly worthy of your attention.  “Take the Time” is immediately relevant today, instructing us to remember the important things as we cope with life’s struggles:  “Now is the hour, tomorrow might be too late, you gotta grab the moment, you just can’t hesitate… Take the time to love someone, take the time to make amends, take the time to make a stand, tase the time for your friends…” 

“Give Me Some Time,” Dan Fogelberg, 1977

Unknown-197When heartbreak takes longer to heal than expected, any chance of a new relationship needs to be put on hold until we’re ready for it.  Dan Fogelberg did a marvelous job of covering this topic in “Give Me Some Time,” a beautiful tune from his 1977 LP “Nether Lands”:  “Give me some time nowI’ve just got to find how I’m going to forget her, and talk myself into believing that she and I are throughthen maybe I’ll fall for you…”  

I Don’t Have the Time,” The James Gang, 1969

Unknown-198Joe Walsh’s earliest songwriting attempts came when he was honing his chops with his old group, The James Gang.  Among the issues he tackled on the group’s debut LP “Yer Album” was the need to make productive use of one’s time:  “I don’t have the time to play your silly gameswalk to work each morning, live within a framenow you’re trying to tell me I should be like you, watch your time, work nine to five, what good does it do?…”

“Time Is,” It’s a Beautiful Day, 1969

Unknown-195David LaFlamme served as chief songwriter, vocalist, violinist and flautist in this underrated San Francisco-based group.  His ten-minute song “Time Is,” which concludes the band’s debut LP, offers a cornucopia of lyrical ideas about time:  “Time is too slow for those who wait, time is too swift for those who fear, time is too long for those who grieve, and time is too short for those who laugh, but for those who love, really love, time, sweet time, precious time, is eternity…”

“Isn’t It Time,” The Babys, 1977

images-140Philosophers have been trying for centuries to figure out the meaning of life and how the passage of time plays a role in that quest.  The rest of us sometimes just want to figure out whether this is the right time to begin a romantic relationship.  John Waites’ band The Babys took a look at this in their hit single “Isn’t It Time” in the fall of 1977:  “I just can’t find the answers to the questions that keep going through my mindhey, babe!  Isn’t it time?…”

“Time in a Bottle,” Jim Croce, 1973

images-141Before his premature death in a 1973 plane crash, songwriter Croce came up with a tune that’s, well, timeless in its profound simplicity.  We think we have plenty of time in our lives to do what we want, but not if we struggle too long in determining what it is we want to accomplish:  “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do is to save every day ’til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you, but there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them…”

****************

images-142Honorable mention:

Wasted Time,” The Eagles, 1976;  “Sign o’ the Times,” Prince, 1986; “Time Won’t Let Me,” The Outsiders, 1966;  “Time,” The Alan Parsons Project, 1981;  “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” Judy Collins, 1968;  “Your Time is Gonna Come,” Led Zeppelin, 1969;  “Only Time Will Tell,” Asia, 1982;  “Right Place Wrong Time,” Dr John, 1973;  “Time Out of Mind,” Steely Dan, 1980;  “Feels Like the First Time,” Foreigner, 1977;  “No Time,” The Guess Who, 1969;  “Comes a Time,” Neil Young, 1978;  “Time is Running Out,” Steve Winwood, 1977;  “Another Time, Another Place,” U2;  “Time of the Season,” The Zombies, 1969;  “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” Chicago, 1969;  “My Time,” Boz Scaggs, 1972;  “Time Out,” Joe Walsh, 1974;  “The Nighttime is the Right Time,” Creedence, 1969;  “Sands of Time,” Fleetwood Mac, 1971;  “River of Time,” Van Morrison, 1983;  “Most of the Time,” Bob Dylan, 1989;  “High Time We Went,” Joe Cocker, 1971.