When in quarantine, we are going through many feelings, and while it greatly depends on personal situation and personality, most of us are going through more or less the same thing. Loneliness may be the most talked-about feeling but it is probably exaggerated in comparison to the many mental states of a quarantine. Once you know you are gonna be alone for a while, there are plenty of other emotions and mindsets to explore.
If we start with loneliness, there are plenty of songs expressing this so-common feeling, but the Roy Orbison’s ‘Only the Lonely’ always come to my mind: ‘Only the lonely/Know the way I feel tonight /Only the lonely /Know this feeling ain’t right’… this feeling ain’t right speaks volume, there is no enjoyment at all at being alone? Really? It may take a while, but we get used to it.
Then, with isolation, comes a way to survive and the profound desire to get absorbed by our own inner world. ‘My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth/My thoughts were so loud’, no other song has expressed this feeling better than Modest Mouse’s ‘The World at Large.’
Stress and anxiety are part of the picture for many, slowly realizing or refusing to realize the new situation as if Radiohead’s ‘How To Disappear Completely’ was becoming our new reality, ‘I’m not here / this isn’t happening.’ This can lead to full depression and plenty of time to mop over it while singing Nirvana’s ‘Pennyroyal Tea,’ ‘Give me a Leonard Cohen afterworld/So I can sigh eternally,’ or another Radiohead’s song, ‘This is my final fit/My final bellyache with/No alarms and no surprises.’
People may see the world very differently, some may try to ‘Paint it Black’ à la Rolling Stones, ‘it’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black,’ others may try a full self-inspection à la Tame Impala’s ‘Solitude Is Bliss,’ ‘No one else around to look at me/So I can look at my shadow as much as I please.’
Some may recede completely, to become ‘Comfortably Numb’ like a Pink Floyd song, others may obsess about the news and rage about TV like a Bright Eyes song, ‘And so someone’s gonna die/Well, ABC, NBC, CBS: Bullshit/They give us fact or fiction?
It is sometimes hard to keep our sanity and if some will live inside a perpetual Eels’ ‘Agony,’ ‘Am I gonna be alright? No, I’m not gonna be alright/Nothin’ is alright now,’ others will sink into a Ramones’ boredom, ‘Nothin’ to do, nowhere to go/I wanna be sedated.’
Everywhere we look, it could be panic attacks, frustration, sadness or Tears for Fears’ ‘Mad World,’ ‘The dreams in which I’m dying/are the best I’ve ever had,’ especially after realizing that R.E.M. were true prophets, ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)’
However, once we discover that routine is important, this voluntary isolation may turn into a celebration and real empowerment exercise if we manage to discover, just like Elliott Smith, that we already had everything inside ourselves, ‘Why should you want any other/When you’re a world within a world?’
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