Com­fort in the time of COVID-19: Some mu­sic that can brighten th­ese dark days

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Opinion -

J.S. PORTER “In the depth of win­ter, I fi­nally learned that there lay within me an in­vin­ci­ble sum­mer” — Al­bert Ca­mus

Th­ese are dif­fi­cult, trou­bling, un­pre­dictable, anx­ious, fright­en­ing days.

Do you do what the quar­an­tined sock-pup­pet man does and make a video of a sock eat­ing the traf­fic go­ing by his win­dow? (Thou­sands of tweets and retweets.)

Do you pig out on James Bond movies at home? Reread Ca­mus’ “The Plague,” a ra­di­ant story about hu­man sol­i­dar­ity and in­ge­nu­ity in the face of a pan­demic? I’m miss­ing the start of base­ball, which al­ways feels like the turn­ing of a new sea­son, a new be­gin­ning to me. How do sports fans get by with­out their reg­i­men of hockey or foot­ball or bas­ket­ball on tele­vi­sion?

I meet a few fellow dog-walk­ers in the morn­ing and the late af­ter­noon who keep their dis­tance and let their dogs play in an open field. That’s the ex­tent of my so­cial life, ex­cept for play­ing chess with my grand­sons and watch­ing de­tec­tive shows with my wife.

Most days, I don’t know what to do with my­self. The dog is hav­ing a bet­ter time than I am. I can’t seem to con­cen­trate well enough to read or write much, the two ac­tiv­i­ties that are usu­ally as nat­u­ral to me as breath­ing. I eat too much. I drink too much wine.

I can’t visit my mother who lives in a care cen­tre. I make do with phone calls. I don’t visit my neigh­bours. Just phone them from time to time. Send out a few emails to loved ones. I like to keep lines from Den­nis Lee’s “Night Songs” in my head: Tell the ones you love, you love them;

tell them now.

I want to tell my wife that I love her, that she is an amaz­ing mother and grand­mother, an amaz­ing hu­man be­ing, an amaz­ing friend.

The hope I have is that China seems to have got the bet­ter of the Coron­avirus and South Korea has re­duced its in­fected pop­u­la­tion. The curve re­ally can be flattened.

My heart breaks for Italy, the coun­try of ori­gin of both my near­est neigh­bours on my lit­tle court.

Sat­u­rated with the news — you can’t get away from the virus cov­er­age even if you try — I find my­self look­ing for com­fort the way one looks for com­fort foods in times of ten­sion. (My favourite com­fort food, by the way, is champ — mashed po­ta­toes in a mound, with scal­lions, but­ter, salt and pep­per.)

If I could sing, I’d try to do my best ren­di­tion of Louis Arm­strong’s “What a Won­der­ful World.” I see trees of green, red roses too I see them bloom for me and you And I say to my­self what a won­der­ful world I see skies of blue and clouds of white Bright sunny days, dark sa­cred nights And I think to my­self, what a won­der­ful world.

I’d also try a few bars from St­ing’s “Fields of Gold,” al­though it’s much bet­ter to lis­ten to Eva Cas­sidy singing the lines: I never made promises lightly and there have been some that I’ve bro­ken But I swear in the days still left we’ll walk in fields of gold We’ll walk in fields of gold.

Ev­ery­one has his or her own com­fort songs. And as much as I en­joy in­stru­men­tal mu­sic, whether jazz or clas­si­cal, it’s the hu­man voice I thirst to hear. I want to hear Buffy Sainte-Marie sing a prayer-poem from Leonard Co­hen’s “Beau­ti­ful Losers” ti­tled “God is Alive, Magic is Afoot,” or k.d. lang’s bare­foot ver­sion of Co­hen’s “Hal­lelu­jah.” Th­ese are Cana­dian an­thems for me.

I also want to hear — just to make a small list of com­fort songs — th­ese songs:

Jane Siberry’s “Call­ing All An­gels”;

Neil Young’s “Help­less”; Gor­don Light­foot’s “Early Morn­ing Rain” or “Song for a Win­ter’s Night” sung by Quar­tette — Cindy Church, Caitlin Han­ford, Gwen Swick and Sylvia Tyson;

Joni Mitchell’s “The River” or “Both Sides Now”;

Ian and Sylvia’s “Four Strong Winds”;

Molly John­son’s “Di­a­mond in My Hand”;

Light­foot again for “Rib­bon of Dark­ness” sung by Bruce Cock­burn. Some­times when you’re in the dark, it helps to ar­tic­u­late it.;

Bruce Cock­burn’s “Lovers in a Dan­ger­ous Time”;

And, fi­nally, Hamil­ton’s Arkell’s “Knock­ing at the Door.”

If the an­them helped Cana­dian ath­letes win gold in South Korea, it can help Cana­di­ans get through th­ese dif­fi­cult days. Got the North Star guidin’ me It’s the fire burn­ing in­side of me No, I don’t need a mir­a­cle I got some­thing far more pow­er­ful All aboard, I heard my brother say All aboard, like it’s some pa­rade That’s me, I’m knockin’ at the door I’m thirsty For more, for more, for more. J.S. Porter reads and writes in Hamil­ton

As much as I en­joy in­stru­men­tal mu­sic, it’s the hu­man voice I thirst to hear

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.