Are you need of a good cry? Have you found yourself screaming into pillows or impulse-buying Donald Trump voodoo dolls? Are you starting to feel unable to restrain yourself from verbally accosting the people who wear their masks below their noses, or worse, refuse to wear them at all? You might be in need of a good, angsty catharsis. Here are the songs that have been helping me through the emotional corona-coaster.
Ani DiFranco – Fuel
This song, like so much of Ani DiFranco’s music, is a political commentary in the most obvious sense of the term, cutting deep into the inhumanness of American consumerism, and highlighting the distraction it creates from real and enduring political problems. More than anything, it communicates the frustration of a woman butting up against the massiveness of these issues, and asking herself, “Is there anything I can do about anything at all?” before remembering that she is not alone in her anger, that “Beneath the good and the kind and the stupid and the cruel, there’s a fire just waiting for fuel”. It’s a great song, and one that I highly recommend for anyone living in Trump’s America, or to anyone feeling deep consumerist angst.
Paula Cole – Tiger
I was introduced to the album This Fire (1996) by a favourite teacher of mine back in March, just after being sent home at the end of Hilary term. The album as a whole is beautiful. ‘Tiger’, the first track, is a feminist anthem about the anger, catharsis, and ultimately, the freedom, that comes with the subversion of suffocating conventions. This song has been a true relief to me throughout quarantine when my stir-crazy mind has brought me to the edge of sanity. When you need to get it all out, I highly recommend getting in your car, cranking this song, and sobbing as long and as hard as you need to.
Meredith Brooks – Bitch
In a way that is somewhat reminiscent of ’32 Flavors’ (if a little more aggressive in tone), this song explores with a feminist lens the many identities that exist within individuals, and specifically women. For me, it has been a helpful reminder that I am more than the person I have been in quarantine, even as my defining identities have shifted. Plus, it’s a classic, and a great song to dance to in your underwear.
Joni Mitchell – The Hissing of Summer Lawns
I am a total Joni Mitchell geek, and a firm believer that the titular track of her album The Hissing of Summer Lawns is sorely underrated. It is a smooth, jazzy piece that epitomizes Joni’s seventies style in a way that, as someone I know once told me, “just makes me feel so fucking cool”. The combination of its slow summer-ness and its powerful lyrics about suffocating domesticity make it an important song for the present moment.
Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection
This song just makes me feel good. It’s a song about the freedom created by true intimacy, and is a beautiful reminder that even when we can’t go outside, we can find liberation in romance. Still, it gives new meaning to the word “bop”, and when it comes on in the car, I can’t help shimmying at the wheel. It’s sexy, sapphic, and refreshingly idealistic.
This is Part 3 of a mini series of Pandemic Playlists, curated by Music Editor Katie Bunney, sharing the songs that have been keeping us going through this peculiar time. Get in touch if you would like to contribute.