Pandemic Playlist: Songs for Crisis

Music to soothe the savage disease.

Posted Apr 03, 2020

In the face of the largest medical disaster in 100 years, people are suffering many negative emotions including anxiety, fear, dread, and terror. My own biggest worry has been my son in Montreal who is now mostly recovered from a nasty bout of fever, chills, and breathing problems.

There are many ways of dealing with negative emotions, including effective ones like exercise, talking to a friend, and psychotherapy, and also dangerous ones like alcohol. In Ontario, liquor sales are up 40% in the past week. A gentler way of adjusting emotions is by listening to music.

 Paul Thagard
Source: Paul Thagard

Here is my personal playlist for crisis music, probably best for people old enough to recognize the relation between the objects in this picture and who are also at greatest risk of dying from the new virus. The Atlantic and Spotify provide more contemporary lists. 

  • "Accentuate the Positive," by Perry Como
  • "Bright Side of the Road," by Van Morrison
  • "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," by Bing Crosby
  • "Don’t Stand So Close to Me," by The Police
  • "Don’t Worry, Be Happy," by Bobby McFerrin
  • "Eve of Destruction," by Barry McGuire
  • "Get Home," by Sarah Slean
  • "Gimme Shelter," by The Rolling Stones
  • "Haven’t Got Time for the Pain," by Carly Simon
  • "I Shall be Released," by Bob Dylan or The Band
  • "I Will Survive," by Gloria Gaynor
  • "Just Fine," by Desiree Dawson
  • "Look on the Bright Side of Life," by Monty Python
  • "Ode to Joy," by Beethoven
  • "On the Sunny Side of the Street," by Willie Nelson
  • "Only the Lonely," by Roy Orbison
  • "So Far Away," by Carole King 
  • "Stayin’ Alive," by the Bee Gees
  • "The End," by The Doors
  • "The Lazy Song," by Bruno Mars
  • "We’ll Meet Again," by Vera Lynn
  • "What’s Going On," by Marvin Gaye

These pieces range from the cloyingly cheerful to the relentlessly apocalyptic, but in another post, I explain why people actually enjoy sad music. Feel free to add suggestions in the comments. 

Explanation of the picture for young people: In the olden days when music was on cassettes, they often unraveled but could be rewound with a pen.