NOW That’s What I Call Lockdown 2020
My husband is crying his eyes out. I put a comforting arm around him,
“James, what’s wrong?”
“It’s this song, it’s just tipped me over the edge….”
James is listening to The Beautiful South’s “Prettiest Eyes”. Right, I get it. James has 14-year-old twins, who he hasn’t seen for nine weeks due to this awful pandemic. Tomorrow he’s going to have the day of all days when he finally gets to see them and go for a walk. So, it should and WILL be a wonderful day, but so much has happened since he last got to hug his precious boys, Robin and George, and the emotional tug of the reunion has struck deep in his heart. I miss them too and I feel it so deeply for James and other parents who are in this situation.
“The day we went into lockdown and I knew I couldn’t see them, I played this song in my office over and over again, trying to get my head around what on earth was going on and when I might get to see them next. It’s the most beautiful song and I found it so comforting.” Said my husband.
The power of music, eh?
James hasn’t played The Beautiful South’s “Prettiest Eyes” since that day nine weeks ago, but today it has just come on the radio out of the blue. I get this, and I know that hearing it again reminds him of the early days when he had no idea when he’d see them again, but now he can, so the song also represents progress. It’s clear that from this point onward, he will only associate that song with the Covid19 pandemic and lockdown.
“Hey, we should make a lockdown reflections playlist!” said James as he brushed away his tears and started smiling again.
A Lockdown Reflections’ playlist. Genius. Not a playlist to listen to DURING our lockdowns but one for when we’re out to remind us of this time, the sadness, the uncertainty, but ultimately the moments of joy.
It might seem strange to some that any of us will ever want to be reminded of this time again, but we’re literally living out future history lessons here and some memories need preserving. Personally, I never want to lose sight of what we went through, the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
I know I’m not alone in saying I have actually enjoyed some of the positive experiences which lockdown forced on us; the daily video chats, the “absence makes the heart go fonder” phone calls with my parents, the walks, the weather, and the endless boxsets. As someone who lives and breathes music, making a playlist that reminds me of those parts sounds like a fun idea.
But where on earth does one start with such a task? What WAS the soundtrack to our lives in 2020? For James and I, the first port of call was TV. We have watched loads so featuring high on the list were “Ashes to Ashes” by Bowie, the theme tune from Detectorists, “Foux do Fafa” from Flight of the Conchords and, for our sins, “Forever and Ever” by Demis Roussos after we watched Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden perform it in “The Trip to Greece”.
“Can we have one of Tiger King’s songs?” James asked cheekily
“No!!!” That was a bit harsh. “Not unless I can have the Carole Baskin Tik Tok song.” James hates TikTok so I know he won’t agree.
“Go on then”.
Damn. Talking of TikTok, some of my favourite memories were the laugh out loud video calls I had with my brother, Sam, and sister, Carolyn, as we watched countless TikTok videos of people dancing to the tune that is “Blinding Lights” so that goes on our lockdown playlist too.
Before we know it, our playlist brimming with songs inspired not just by TV we watched but adverts (Simply Red’s “For Your Babies “), Podcasts we made ( Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows by Lesley Gore), Instagram posts (Gilbert O’Sullivan performing the world’s saddest song, “ Alone Again Naturally” ), articles we read (Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic ) and even DIY projects we completed (Kermit singin g Rainbow Connection because we stuck up a small guitar on my studio’s wall).
Of course, as a classical crossover artist, I had a whole load of classical and musical contributions which I added to the mix which James enjoyed too. Sitting outside in our garden, working, reading books, and enjoying the sunshine and calm, we would often get out our speakers and enjoy an hour or so a day.
Our playlist was turning into a musical memory book of the strangest time I can remember. Every song was so provoking.
Tracks from Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty , Bizet’s Carmen , Saint Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals also got elected to the list alongside Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar, and Madonna singing Buenos Aires from Evita.
For as long as this goes on and we are not living “normally”, the playlist will continue to grow and who knows what will be on there by the time I write my next column. As a coherent set of songs, it’s completely and utterly bonkers, but it works. For us. Regardless, it’s been an excellent time-killing exercise putting it together.
I truly believe we all have a lockdown soundtrack, and one day, when we are together again, we will listen with nostalgia and disbelief that we were part of something that will be spoken about for centuries to come.
Fast forward one week from when I started writing this column and James and I went for the perfect walk with Robin and George and they talked about the playlist.
“What would be on your list boys?”. The rest of that conversation is their business of course, but I’m curious to ask all of you reading this column,….what would be on YOURS?