Walking with music in a Cape Elizabeth field on August 31.  Photo by Aimsel Ponti

What’s getting you through the pandemic? What are your coping mechanisms? Aside from spending time with my spouse and dog, seeing a handful of friends and binge-watching foreign crime dramas, for me, it’s walking with music.

I made a promise to myself since I started working from home in mid-March that I would walk a minimum of five miles a day, no matter what. And I’ve done it. Sometimes Tracy and Odie join me, but most of the really long walks are solo ones. But I’m not really, truly alone. I created a Spotify playlist early on in lockdown called Love in a Time of Pandemic and continue to add to it.

At present, it has 264 songs and is just under 18 hours long. It’s got some well known tunes on it, some deep album cuts and some local tracks as well. As I make my way through Cape Elizabeth, South Portland and Portland, I take comfort in the music, even though some of it makes me feel really sad. But I also sometimes smile and if no one’s around, I might even sing along a little. I have yet to dance my way across the Casco Bay Bridge, but at this point, anything can happen. On this playlist are songs about isolation, loneliness, helping each other out, straight-up fear, the power of love and everything in between.

Love in a Pandemic Playlist on Spotify. Playlist attic photo in East Boothbay by Aimsel Ponti

I encourage you to think about what songs might resonate with you as we enter month six. This is a judgment-free column, by the way, so if you prefer yacht rock or even, gasp, new country to get you through the dark times, that’s awesome! At the end of the day, music is subjective, and it’s all about finding what works for you. Here’s 10 tracks from the Love in a Time of Pandemic playlist that help me get by, make me cry, make me laugh and fill my heart with hope.

Artist: Amanda Palmer
Song: “The Ride”
Key lyrics: “I want you to think of me sitting and singing beside you/I wish we could meet all the people behind us in line/The climb to the crest is less frightening with someone to clutch you/But isn’t it nice when we’re all afraid at the same time?”

Artist: Phillipa Soo, Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton” cast recording
Song: “It’s Quiet Uptown”
Key Lyrics: “There are moments that the words don’t reach/There is suffering too terrible to name/You hold your child as tight as you can/And push away the unimaginable.”

Artist: Natalie Merchant
Song:Life Is Sweet”
Key Lyrics:“I tell you life is sweet, despite the misery/There’s so much more, be grateful”

Artist: Katie Herzig
Song: “We’re All In This Together”
Key Lyrics: “When the tears are cried on the darkest nights, we’ll hold the ones we love/When we finally see all the beauty, we’ll sing a grateful song”

Artist: R.E.M.
Song: “Sweetness Follows”
Key Lyrics: “It’s these little things, they can pull you under/Live your life filled with joy and wonder/I always knew this altogether thunder/Was lost in our little lives”

Artist: Ozzy Osbourne
Song: “Crazy Train”
Key Lyrics: “Crazy, but that’s how it goes/Millions of people living as foes/Maybe it’s not too late/To learn how to love and forget how to hate”

Artist: First Aid Kit
Song: “Silver Lining”
Key Lyrics: “I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers/Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter/I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow/Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go”

Artist: Patty Griffin
Song: “When It Don’t Come Easy”
Key lyrics: “But if you break down, I’ll drive out and find you/If you forget my love, I’ll try to remind you/And stay by you when it don’t come easy”

Artist: Bill Withers
Song: “Lean On Me”
Key Lyrics: “Lean on me, when you’re not strong/And I’ll be your friend/I’ll help you carry on”

Artist: The Bee Gees
Song: “Stayin’ Alive”
Key Lyrics: “Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother, you’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive/Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’ and we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive”


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