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Out With The New, In With The Old: Finding Coronavirus Comfort In My Favourite Music

Why self-isolation is about finding solace in those records you cherish most

Every day, in a world as uncertain as it is right now, we can at least be sure of one thing: another band will have delayed the release of their latest work.

Distribution problems, falling streaming numbers and the inability to tour – still a huge driver for bands looking to turn fans on to their new music – has already temporarily led to the ripping up of release schedules. They’re common sense decisions for the artists and record labels involved, of course, despite how disappointing such moves are to rafts of fans who’d long had release dates and the bounty they would bring etched in diaries and hearts.

There is an argument, obviously, that now would be a good time for artists to release new music, film, TV or anything else (just like the viral success of Tiger King). It’s never been easier to infiltrate someone’s home with your art, and we’ve all got a bit of time on our hands, after all, right? And boy, do we need things to fill it. But, as the saying goes, just because you can, does it mean you should? Am I alone in thinking that, for a few weeks at least, the joy in the discovery of new things isn’t what I’m looking for?

There is a comfort to our favourite culture; that with which we have grown with us as we have with it. Putting on your favourite record or movie is like spending a day in an old jumper or a night in your own bed. It’s time spent hanging out with a best friend. There’s an ease to being in their company, a shared history born of years spent together that allows us to let our guard down to the point that its melodies and lyrics can wash through our mind and across our lips. It knows us and well as we know it. When things have gone to shit, they are who we turn to. Theirs is the familiar voice of reassurance that everything is going to be alright.

The new’ simply doesn’t wrap its arms around you in the same way. It’s invasive, demanding attention and interrogation and fighting for an emotional response. It goes out on a limb to make an impression and challenges us to make a considered judgement of it. It’s a perfect stranger, and pressing play for the first time is to greet it with a handshake and a polite smile. There is a thrill to not knowing where that first impression will eventually lead, what kind of relationship will thrive from it and what untold possibilities await, but we’re going to need to work at it, that’s for sure.

And really, right now, while we all might have the time for such an investment, do we really have the heart for it? It is okay to admit that the world is a scary place, and simply getting through the day, with all the suffering and misery brought by 24-hour rolling news, can be an emotionally and mentally draining ride. Our brains aren’t conditioned to deal with change especially well, and my mind is a jumble of thoughts and fears and emotions as it is. I don’t want to throw petrol on that particular fire; I need something to douse the flames. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m not as excited as the next person for Biffy Clyro’s return. It doesn’t mean I can’t wait to dive into the world of Creeper’s new epic, or hear the results of Lynn Gunn taking PVRIS by the horns. It doesn’t make me any less curious about Asking Alexandria’s next moves, what a pre-Linkin Park Chester Bennington sounded like, or how a Hayley Williams solo record shapes up compared to Paramore.

But for now, when I think about what’s going to soundtrack another day on lockdown? Well, it’ll be my oldest friends that I’ll be turning to, if only to make everything seem that little bit more normal for a while. 

Posted on April 8th 2020, 4:48p.m.
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