While much of this 20-something’s life feels like it’s slipping into habits of old during these COVID times — you know, living with my parents again, sleeping in the same bed I got my first period in, passing my high school chemistry classroom on every stroll around the block, and so on — my musical taste has slipped further beyond the nostalgic tones of high school, further beyond my entire lifetime, in fact.
I’m stuck on a playlist called Oldies/Goodies that I started to build last summer. It conceitedly calls itself a “Smart” playlist, so it auto-updates when a track is added to my library that falls under its rules — in this case, any song released between 1950 and 1980. Over the past few months, it has blossomed from a Beatles-logged car-friendly bud into a 10-hour-and-30-minute-long garden of Boomer tunage. I am so into it, and I can’t shift my musical attention toward other eras for more than a few songs these days, it seems.
Here’re some of my favorites that might fit peculiarly well into today’s circumstances.
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper — Blue Öyster Cult
I really enjoy the cyclical composition of this classic, and the lyrical refusal to succumb to a fear of mortality hits hard without feeling aggressive. That lesson feels important these days, at least for this anxiety-ridden lass. I’m also probably partial to this band of legendary New York rockers because my mom loves to tell the story of singing this song to her high school classmates in the ‘80s.
Turn-Down Day — The Cyrkle
This 1966 foot-tapper is a prime example of the broad influence the Beatles had over the sounds of the decade. One might even mistake The Cyrkle’s lead singers Don Dannemann and Tom Dawes for Paul and John if they didn’t listen too closely. Ultimately, I can’t stop listening to this one because it feels like the lyrics were written during another era’s spring quarantine. “Things that are waitin’ to mess my mind / Will just have to wait ’til tomorrow,” is a spot-on observation of a tendency to put off challenging endeavors because, honestly, tomorrow’s probably going to be indistinguishably the same. The chorus goes on to say, “It’s a turn down day, nothin’ on my mind / It’s a turn down day and I dig it” which also really hits the Q experience of starting to love the mundanity.
Hocus Pocus — Focus
This 1971 piece of freakin’ art starts off with a pretty gnarly electric guitar shred and leads your ears on to believe that this’ll be yet another solo-heavy cutout of the early ‘70s. Wrong. Cue the yodels. I’m one of those people who has a very hard time laughing at comedies, and I’d rather just nerd out and watch something informative; so when this jam made me audibly laugh by myself in the car the other day, I knew I had to add this one into heavy rotation.
The Locomotion — Little Eva
Little Eva’s classic 1962 dance tune absolutely slaps whether you’re bumping jams in the car or running long distance in the suburbs of Chicago (shoutout to the Green Bay Trail). The melody is intoxicating, the beat is to die for, and the general groove of the track really stirs up one of those smiles that originates in your gut.
I Wanna Be Sedated — Ramones
To end on a super emo note, the Ramones never fail to provide that angsty backtrack to let off some steam to. This classic hits close to home if you’re feeling like sleeping through the pandemic sounds pretty good. I’m fine, I promise.
Something about listening to graying recordings is trippy in-and-of-itself — even when the world isn’t on pause. It even feels like straight up time travel if you’re baked enough. While some of these legends are still puttering around somewhere on planet earth, their now-archival sound is melted into the audio realms of the past. Especially when we’re not quite sure when we’ll go back to work, school, or regain any sense of humdrum normalcy, classic tunes feel and sound so comforting. They hit that intracranial nostalgia button with ease and carry the listener away on a sailboat toward the ever-ambiguous “back then.”