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The Quarantine Playlist

  • April 14, 2021

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Welcome. Virtual trivia. Online play reading groups. We’re negotiating a less-quarantined existence, but our pandemic pastimes remain predominantly home-based for the moment. We’re booking optimistic flights for summer and contemplating vaccine passports, but we’re still home making Yewande Komolafe’s tamarind-drizzled rice porridge, reading Jenny Diski’s essays, considering going gray.

A couple of weeks ago I asked if there was one song that you would forever associate with your time in quarantine, a tune whose opening bars will always remind you of these last 13 months. The submissions are fantastic, together forming a soundtrack that captures the emotional extremes, the isolation and yearning and nostalgia of a year at home.

For Derek Cohn on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, it’s Talking Heads’ “(Nothing but) Flowers” that encapsulates the past year. For Julie Hanify in Pittsburgh and Laurie Tanner in Kihei, Hawaii, it’s Paul Simon’s “American Tune,” with the lyric “I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered/I don’t have a friend who feels at ease.” (There were several votes for Simon and Garfunkel, including “The Sound of Silence” and “The Only Living Boy in New York.”)

Al Jarreau’s “We Got By.” Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December.” Juan Donoso in Santiago, Chile, offered “So We Won’t Forget” by Khruangbin: “I put it on every time I felt hopeless about the never-ending pandemic and its restrictions. For me, this song is a beautiful journey through memories of pre-pandemic life, of that last summer with friends, traveling, free, with absolutely no clue of what was ahead of us. It makes me cry and laugh at the same time,” he wrote.

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