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  • Janae McKenzie

Quarantunes: Music for Self-Isolation

Music has always been how I process everything.


Having anxiety, I find it to be the closest thing I have to a prescription to help me cope. I know what songs to play to address the seizing dread that washes over me at times.


In the time we’re in, I thought I’d address the songs that have helped me through COVID. While I’m at home, clothed, fed and generally safe, I cannot ignore the toll it’s taken on my mental health. My anxiety and depressive episodes are more occurrent and I thought I’d document what helps. It’ll help me to share, and maybe someone can find similar peace and support in the songs. I call them my Quarantunes.


It’s Alright - Mother Mother





Sometimes you just need someone to hold you while you’re shaking and tell you it’s alright, with no judgement for the thoughts in your head. This song gives me that.


Right off the bat, this song opens with a whisper of “it’s alright”. The singer has a gritty first verse, detailing how he feels like he’s losing his mind, that he’s insane and has a baseball bat beside his bed to fight a war in his own mind. He admits he’s not okay and is lamenting his bad choices. The chorus chimes in as he spirals, telling him “it’s alright. it’s okay.” Over and over. (It continues this through the song.) The chorus is a higher, almost ethereal voice reminding him he’s not a monster; he’s human and made some mistakes.


As I’ve been stuck in the house, I’ve been alone with my thoughts a lot more. It often leads me to a place of feeling like a terrible person, of hating myself. I feel like a monster at times. This song reminds me over and over again that’s not true, even the final pre-chorus switching from “it’s alright” and “you’re not a monster” to the same disgruntled singer repeated “I’m alright” and “I’m not a monster.” It’s the definition of verbal affirmation and it anchors me.


Chinese New Year - SALES





Okay, I’ll admit. I got very into TikTok and that’s where I first heard this song. But it’s light, and makes me want to dance around my room. And are you gonna tell me “I can’t wait to get out of here” repeated over and over again doesn’t resonate right now?


Also something about the promise of “I’ll see you at the movies” makes me long for a time when that could actually happen. I miss late nights with my friends going out to the movies and such. I miss that freedom.


The King of Rock n Roll - Prefab Sprout





Turn this one UP. I found this after watching "I Am Not Okay With This" on Netflix and you HAVE to channel Stanley Barber listening to it. Like get glammed up, sing in the shower, dance around your room, drink something if nearby. Just have fun with it! It’s all nonsense words and I love it !!


Joint Entry: Supalonely - BENEE and fuck, i’m lonely - Lauv





Both songs are really self-explanatory.


Once in a Lifetime - The Talking Heads




This is attached to one of my favorite recent memories. A friend of mine did a hilarious impression of this song I’d never heard of and I thought she was crazy. Until she played it and it turned out she was spot on.


The laughter and joy at that moment were pure and unadulterated, and I long for moments like that again to come soon. The camaraderie of laughing with a group of people is something I didn’t realize how much I loved until I wasn’t allowed it.


Hold On Till May - Pierce The Veil





Nothing like months of isolation to make you take a trip down memory lane. This, of course, is from the peak of my emo days, but I’ve found a new meaning in it despite maturing. Sometimes you want to scream over the sound of a passing train.


Specifically the title “Hold On Till May” feels weirdly appropriate in the time we’re in. While I don’t think everything will be magically fixed by May, it’s a nice thought that I just need to hold on until the sun breaks through all of this.


Poison - Cavetown





It’s under a similar vein as “It’s Alright” but calmer in nature. This one is just light acoustic guitar with Cavetown’s voice. Most of his music is like this, simple enough in the instrumentals that you focus on the words. He is soothing, and sometimes you need someone to remind you to ease your breath. This song is a bunch of deep breaths, a back and forth between someone suffering from anxiety and someone trying to calm them. I love it.


Favorite Place - All Time Low





Singing the chorus of this one is MAD cathartic. Every bit of it screams hating being away from someone you love. My friends are my family and my home and every day away from them I feel like I don’t have a piece of myself. This song talks about how those special people are your favorite place, how not being with them makes you feel lost, like you’re missing your escape from all of it.


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