Music can’t cure COVID-19, but it makes the hardship better for many. The number of regional performers making virus-related melodies attests to the power of song to help us deal with difficulty -- the Rochester-area singers who have recorded pieces about the virus are now in the double digits. The songs range from silly to serious -- but the parodies tend to interpret the pandemic humorously.
Local music teachers Chrissy Misso and Angie Ballard turned Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” into “Please Stand Far Away” (catch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnkekIdP_voc) while Lucas Horvath wrote lyrics to parody The Knack’s song, “My Sharona.” You guessed it. The title is “My Corona.”
Though hitting close to home for many, the lyrics are still good for a laugh: “Who likes social distancing, distancing?/ Trying to get away from My Corona/ Unessential employee, employee/ Cannot leave the house due to My Corona.”
“My recording studio gives me an outlet for my creativity. I don’t feel nearly as trapped because of my music,” says Randy Stuhldreher. You’d probably recognize him from his time playing with the Booker Mini Band.
Stuhldreher turned Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” into “50 Days To Touch Another” (find the track at https://vimeo.com/403455711). He wrote and recorded his track, with help on the chorus lyrics from Pamela Steager, at his own Echo Back Studio. The song reminds us to “wipe down every toy, Roy.”
Some songs like “Wash Our Hands,” shared by the Olmstead Medical center at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoD_hM0TZqo and written by Mike Terrill, remind us of practical ways to help slow the spread of the virus so we can get through this together.
Another song focusing on handwashing in an irreverent way is Alex Rossi’s funky “Don’t Get the ‘Rona.” Four mirror images of Rossi play and sing all the parts to the song about how the virus “wants to party in the U.S.A. like Miley Cyrus.” You won’t be able to stop dancing when you listen at https://www.facebook.com/RootCity/videos/544167963148442.
That doesn’t mean all music about the virus is lighthearted.
During quarantine, Jon Sailer’s been “imagining stories about what other people are doing while stuck at home.” His musical project Jealous Brother released a song called “Me and Mother.” Sailer says that “music is a healthy way to deal with feelings” even though “it is hard not to be able to provide services for the families I work for.” His song paints a picture of “Just me and mother all alone in the hills/ watching the city high on Mother’s pills.” Check it out at www.reverbnation.com/jealousbrother/songs.
“The Covid 19 Blues” are helping Ron Bublitz cope with his new day-to-day.
“I’m a respiratory therapist, so I get a front-row seat to this thing,” he says. Despite not playing his music at live venues anymore, he looks at songs like his as “a band-aid to heal the soul.” You can hear him sing about a “cooped-up, overworked, under-socialized kind of day” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJ8g09UoyWY.
In a similar vein, Matthew and Heide Brown from Estelle’s Eatery & Bar use their song “Quarantine” to lament household chores like dishes and laundry. The couple harmonize to the lack of harmony caused by kids not picking up their toys.
Songs about the virus have even connected siblings across state lines. Local musician Jeani Stannard Driscoll and her brother Mark Stannard from Columbia, MO both performed part of a song in a Zoom meeting based on Mark’s experiences having a friend offer him a government-issued stimulus check to help keep his and his wife’s carpet cleaning and nail salon businesses open. The song asks, “Are you ready to close the business that you love and still continue to give?” You can see the video at www.facebook.com/jeani.driscoll/videos/vb.746144406/10158450020224407.
As part of a songwriting challenge, Pat Egan wrote a song called “The Way It’s Got to Be.” Despite missing going out to see live music and making music with friends, Egan has been putting together a CD that involves many musicians contributing remotely. His song starts out with the line “God bless people on the front lines” and points out we’re helping each other but “mainly doing it online.” Take a listen to the song at www.facebook.com/watch/?v=853633551807624.
Jane Foote and Carl Stephenson, the two members of the folk duo Cook with Honey, wrote two songs “The People Stayed Home,” based on Kitty O’Meara’s poem “In the Time of Pandemic,” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4_PvUSgGMY) and “Lean In” (www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnMWU_Y5lY) that deal with the coronavirus.
“The inspiration for ‘Lean In’ was to offer a motivational song for colleagues at Mayo Clinic and inspire all of us to lean into those things that matter to us,” says Foote. She says her partner Stephenson has moved his guitar lessons online, but has suffered from having many of his gigs with bands like LP and the 45’s and Incognito canceled. “I encourage people to listen deeply in this time for new ways of thinking about life that may actually serve you well when the pandemic crazy time is past,” she adds.
“Socially Distant" started as Scott Jasmin’s way to help express his own thoughts and emotions. “As I played and sang it at home,” he says, “I felt comforted, and thought maybe it might help comfort others, so I recorded and released it.” Jasmin, a very social person, misses his family, friends, and in-person gigs. He says music helps him celebrate, mourn, romance, and laugh, calling it a “universal language that transcends words.”
While COVID-19 has caused grief, it has also spurred musical creativity. The next time the damaging effects of Covid-19 are getting you down, consider listening to some of these songs for a distraction, dance-worthy tune, or a sympathetic voice.