the social distancing playlist 1-10

Welcome to the Social Distancing Playlist. This was/is a series of daily Facebook postings that began when lockdown conditions began for the COVD-19 pandemic began. The idea was to offer “a vintage pop (or funk or folk or jazz or country) tune chosen for homebound comfort listening during troubled times.” Each entry contained a brief review/explanation for the song’s inclusion on the playlist. These postings ran for 200 consecutive days and are now archived here.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day One. The Beatles, “I’m Looking Through You” (1965) Posted 3/15/2020.  — Let’s begin with a classic. An exquisite through sometimes overlooked example of how deftly the Beatles could wrap a bleak thought in a bright, harmony-rich melody. From the immortal 1965 album, “Rubber Soul.”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Two. Aretha Franklin, “Chain of Fools” (1968) Posted 3/16/2020. — One of the coolest grooves Aretha Franklin ever set to vinyl. This album version features an intro, edited out of the popular single, that is otherworldly. Released as a single in 1967 and eventually on the 1968 album “Lady Soul.”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Three. The Chieftains with Van Morrison, “Boffyflow and Spike (1989) Posted 3/17/2020. — A very lively online St. Patrick’s Day celebration courtesy of The Chieftains and Van Morrison. Though tough to hear, the fading Irish banter at the end is a hoot. (“Cosmic! Totally cosmic, lads! We must do aerobics”). Pulled from the 1989 album, “A Chieftains Celebration.”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Four. Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, “Happiness is Just Around the Bend” (1973) Posted 3/18/2020 — A blast of British jazz-pop from 1973 courtesy of Brian Auger, switching here from his trademark B3 organ to Fender Rhodes piano. A slice of musical sunshine with a great groove and, given the times, a nicely prophetic title. From the 1973 album, “Closer To It.”

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Five. Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Who’ll Stop the Rain” (1970) Posted 3/19/2020. — A perfect 2 ½ minute classic from 1970 courtesy of Creedence Clearwater Revival. A fresh listen, though, revealed how eerily topical most of the lyrics are, and not just because of the precipitation element.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Six. Sly and the Family Stone, “Everyday People” (1968) Posted 3/20/2020. — Something happy and hopeful, the first No. 1 hit by Sly and the Family Stone. Released in late 1968. A round of soul, pop and funk wrapped in a way only Sly Stone could devise, the song remains as fun, fresh and inventive as ever today.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Seven. The Allman Brothers Band, “Little Martha” (1972) Posted 3/21/2020 —  Something short and very sweet, the classic 1971 acoustic guitar duet between Duane Allman and Dickey Betts that closes the Allman Brothers Band’s “Eat a Peach.” Recorded a matter of weeks before Allman died in a motorcycle crash. A haunting yet beautiful end of an era.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Eight. Joni Mitchell, “Raised on Robbery” (1974) Posted 3/22/2020 — Perhaps the loosest sounding song cut by Joni Mitchell. “Raised on Robbery” represented the lighter side (musically more than thematically) of her “Court and Spark” era with Tom Scott and the L.A. Express.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Nine. Crowded House, “World Where You Live” (1986) Posted 3/23/2020 — An expert bit of serious Down Under pop where the song title and band name are eerily apropos for the times. This wasn’t a hit per se in the United States, but the tune wonderfully outlines the band’s dark melancholy, a mix of Neil Finn’s expert songwriting and Mitchell Froom carnival-esque production.

The Social Distancing Playlist, Day Ten. The Police: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” (1980) Posted 3/24/2020 — Can’t take full credit for this one. I’ve seen several posts in recent days referencing this 1980 hit by The Police. With good reason, too. Its chorus (a series of playful repetitions of the title) is a mantra for modern times. The song itself, though, captures the trio’s post punk sound just as their career took the turn to mega-stardom.

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