Playlist for a Long Pandemic

Here’s one thing I know: music draws me closer to God and to God’s people. My body moves to the rhythms. My singing lifts my spirits. I harmonize with the voices around me.

Often when I wake up in the morning, a musical lyric floats into my awareness. One week I heard “I’m not making a joke, you know me, I take everything so seriously” (Indigo Girls, “Galileo”). Hmmm. What does that say about my personality? Or this line from Clannad: “All I wanted was love and affection.”

This summer I remembered another Indigo Girls line: “I’m just a little bit off these days”! And for the last 20 years of academic study I’ve walked to “As I went down in the river to pray, studying about the good old way . . . Good Lord, show me the way.”

I consider each of these to be a prayer, a way of expressing how it is with my soul and for asking God to attend to these spaces.

Of course, since March 2020 I’ve only rarely had the option to sing with other people. Yet God continues to meet me through music. Thus, here are a few pieces that touched me over the months.

  1. My friend Paul shared this clip of a Korean Soul cover of “I’m Still Here” by the Williams Brothers. Good lyrics for these long months of trying to adjust to differing realities.

2. Two of my granddaughters sing with the Chicago Children’s Choir, and I have learned to value their mission “to inspire and unite youth from diverse backgrounds to become global citizens through music.” Here’s a clip from 2014 of “I Need You to Survive” by David Frazier and Hezekiah Walker:

3. Carrie Newcomer never fails to get right to the heart of living, as in this version of “I Believe.”

4. And lastly, I have found consolation in this gospel song from South Africa. Jonathan Ulanday, worship director at my church, first introduced it through a virtual choir. This version of “Ungizungezile” is sung by the writer Khaya Mthethwa and We Will Worship.