by Jette-Mari Anni
I go on long walks daily and have been taking notes on what I hear around me. There are always several houses that have their windows open, and you can hear the shifting mood of the nation through their music choices. Other messengers and ambassadors include teens and spiritual people riding their bicycles with portable speakers turned all the way up. They are today’s Radio Raheems, carrying the musical message around the neighborhoods.
In the first two weeks of social distancing and working from home, I saw a shift on my daily walks. Otherwise working parents were out with their kids, children’s art projects decorated the streets, and LinkedIn filled with people bragging about all the new skills they’d started to learn. During week three, I had to pick some tools up from Home Depot and it seemed as if no virus existed in that small bubble – countless people getting materials for yard work, house projects, and vegetable seeds were almost all gone. It was a madhouse!
By week four, the busyness and enthusiasm dimmed. The most frequently shared message on a lot of people’s social media was, “It’s ok if you don’t learn a new skill, didn’t master a new project, or weren’t extraordinarily productive in quarantine and here’s why…” The reason was simple: people were now being laid off, salaries were being reduced, and some were finding it hard to cope with the whole family constantly around. However, there was one thing that never left the streets: the music.
Music has always carried comfort, emotion, political messages, and people’s thoughts in unique times. When I walk earlier in the day, I can hear many children’s songs. When the workday is almost halfway done, people in their garden play foreign tunes. In the afternoon, people play more hard rock and songs with loaded messages. In the evening, I’ve caught mood music for barbecues, couples winding down to jazz, and buddies having an evening beer while listening to their favorites from the psychedelic era. It all serves the same purpose: being connected and holding onto the hope and joy in those songs, or expressing the discontent, anger, or fear.
The key is that many of those songs are from previous decades, and each had their own set of challenges. We listen to them and remember that those times have passed. Today, we pick up our favorite songs and make them part of the tradition of carrying on. The music connects us to our families, neighborhoods, and communities. The music hasn’t stopped playing in our homes, and while everything else is headed in all different direction, those tunes will carry us through this pandemic.