My Pandemic Playlist


It seems like everyone has their list of appropriate songs to serve as their soundtrack while in isolation. Most of the ones I’ve seen have a few common choices, with REM’s “It’s The End of The World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)” being one of the obvious top choices.

I won’t bore you by posting my very long variation on the theme,1 but here’s a short subset that I haven’t seen on other lists. All but number 10 are available from your favorite streaming service. Follow the links to head down some entertaining rabbit holes.

  1. This Year – The Mountain Goats. This deserves a top spot just for the full-throated refrain “I’m gonna make it through this year if it kills me.” Check out the live version from last summer with Stephen Colbert. It’s cute he thought 2019 was a bad year.
  2. It’s A Jungle Out There – Randy Newman. Used as the theme for the TV show Monk starting in the second season, Newman expanded it into an anthem for paranoids everywhere. The live version from his Tiny Desk Concert is excellent.
  3. Always Look On The Bright Side of Life – Eric Idle or Monty Python. Considering the original context in Life of Brian, this is not necessarily the feel-good song it appears. Still, it’s a good piece of philosophy to hang onto in these times.
  4. Eve of Destruction – Barry McGuire. The version on my list is by The Turtles but their harmonies only slightly soften the dystopian message. The music video from 1965 makes everything even darker.
  5. We Will All Go Together When We Go – Tom Lehrer. Just one of many tunes with a cold-war America theme and a cabaret beat from the math professor and satirist. Watch the expressions on his face while singing the song to an audience in this video. Armageddon can be amusing.
  6. What Comes Next? – Jonathan Groff. From Hamilton, King George III tells the American colonial leaders “you’re on your own” and wonders what they’re going to do now. Several centuries later, I guess we all have the same question.
  7. Bad Decisions – The Strokes. Well, we’ve certainly had plenty of them in dealing with the pandemic.
  8. Hero Is My Middle Name – The SpongeBob SquarePants Musical. A fun song with a great message. It was written by Cyndi Lauper, who, maybe fun fact, played in a season of the Celebrity Apprentice with you-know-who. She redeemed herself with Kinky Boots.
  9. It’s Good To Be Alive – Imelda May. Yep, certainly is.
  10. Gotta Be Patient – Michael Bublé, Barenaked Ladies, and Sofía Reyes. This one is very new, posted to YouTube only last week. A very creative, socially-distant collaboration asking us all to stay put and be patient.
  11. The Party’s Over – Eliza Gilkyson. A satirical reflection on the Bush years, released as his 2008 financial crash was cranking up. This song and sentiment could be revived every decade when we stumble into another disastrous mess. “Left a note for the children to clean up the mess. The party’s over, it was a big success.”
  12. I’m Going Slightly Mad – Queen; You’re Driving Me Crazy – Van Morrison & Joey DeFrancisco. A two-fer for those living in confinement with their family. That link goes to a full concert video where the song is the opening number. But the whole show is worth staying around for.

The image is a screenshot from the YouTube video for number 10, Gotta Be Patient.

1. Currently at 73 songs and almost five hours. If you really want to see the whole thing, it’s on Apple Music.

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