My pandemic playlist

I’ve discovered the beauty of noise-reducing wireless headphones. They’re not mine, but they are a beautiful thing. Since the pandemic started, my husband has been working in his home office instead of the one at his workplace; it has taken awhile to work out the foibles of working at home.

Now, I always work at home (except for the part-time job at the college). Freelancing is a lone occupation, really. I’m on my computer all day, pandemic aside, in the peace and quiet of my basement. But in these months where the four of us are in our own spaces in various parts of the house, it has turned out to be an unfortunate location issue that my desk is situated under the basement stairs, in the main part of the room, near the bathroom, while my husband’s is in a room in the back corner of the basement, behind two doors. Worse, every time my husband opens his office door, it scrapes on the floor.

The space I have come to consider my own – while kids were at school and hubby was at his workplace – is now everyone else’s.

After many many video meetings at top volume from his office, I finally asked for his wireless headphones. Heaven! Not only could I NOT hear anything going on in the room around me (or in his office, for that matter), the music I listened to while working was right in my ear – it’s so much easier to focus! We even paid a bit more money to Spotify so he and I could have our own playlists.

I like music without lyrics, or in another language, to work to. Lo-fi Cool Down or Montreal Chill are great ambient music that is interesting enough to have playing in my ear, but doesn’t demand I stop what I’m doing to listen to it. These are good for when I need to focus on editing, or on writing emails. It’s music that fades into the background, but, frankly, aren’t memorable. I like working to that kind of music.



When I’m working in the kitchen, I usually listen to CBC Radio 1. Always have. One of my favourite segments of the afternoon show out of Toronto is host Gill Deacon’s Gill’s Jukebox. For awhile, she took entries for a pandemic playlist. Can you guess what was on the list? Yep.

  • Home Sweet Home – the Strumbellas

  • Don’t Stand So Close to Me – The Police

  • Who’s Zoomin’ Who? – Aretha Franklin

  • Human Touch – Bruce Springsteen

  • The Safety Dance – Men Without Hats

  • Hair – Broadway cast

It goes on. Each song obviously has meaning in the context of a pandemic. It’s so much fun to wait until just before the 5:30 p.m. news to find out what new song will be added to the playlist. Each one comes with a story, and each one lifted my day, even if I felt at odds with the world.

I would add a few others to the list, based on implication of title alone:

  • Get Back – The Beatles

  • It Will Come Back – Hozier

  • Zoom, Zoom, Zoom – Matt Dusk

  • Big Bird in a Small Cage – Patrick Watson

  • Home – The Small Glories

  • This Changes Everything – The Stars

  • Stayin’ Alive – The BeeGees

  • Only a Fool Would Say That – Steely Dan (like, if we did less testing, we’d have fewer cases . . .)

  • You Got the Fever – Joe Jackson

  • God Give Me Strength – Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach

I could go down rabbit holes putting songs on playlists, and I’ve started one here. Take a listen. What are you listening to on your pandemic playlist?

#personalessay #music #pandemic

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