‘Will you be my little quarantine?’ The words of Twenty One Pilot’s Tyler Joseph play through my headphones on another evening walk. ‘Level of Concern’ is an upbeat sound, raw realism tinted with melodic joy when it is needed most. The infamous ‘Q’ word has been plastered over newspapers, TV screens and email chains for months. It is only natural that it has embedded itself into our art, literature and finally laid to rest in our music.
Despite differing social and political comments on the crisis, the reality common to all is that we are living through history as it unwinds. As a result, we are dutiful documenters of this time and often unintentionally so. The cards to loved ones scribed with ‘I miss you’, rainbows of thanks painted by the neighbourhood’s smallest hands, even journal entries that no one may read except the writer plus an abundance of chords, poetry and song lyrics – we are all subconsciously making a record, rather like musicians crafting sheet music.
In what some have deemed as the most uninspiring of times, others seem to have miraculously flourished and they have done so creatively. An orchid instantly comes to mind: those browning roots on many a windowsill often resurrect against all odds. The emergence of new music under lockdown indeed radiates this same survival factor. A music release has always been exciting but now it is almost magical. Even if we aren’t a fan of the actual sound, we are undoubtedly all fans of anything that echoes a slim piece of normality. If not created strictly under lockdown, it is perhaps the time that songs were first heard by the world and by adoring fans craving crowds and music to be played live once again. Many have also had the luxury of time to discover albums and artists they may never have given another thought to before, or to even re-discover old favourites not heard since the days of the iPod shuffle.
Music has always been there. It is a beating heart in every sense of the word. If music was a Bakerloo line companion on a pre-lockdown commute, for many as we approach June, it has blossomed into a soul mate. Over three quarters of us are listening to more music each day than ever before. As external circumstances and our sense of control fluctuate, at the very least music can be a consistent part of a routine void of any actual routine. We can always turn to ‘Mr Blue Sky’ or ‘Come On Eileen’ for an instant pick me up and reminisce on the many wonderful occasions these and other songs remind us of.
The music scene is indeed oozing with creativity and resourcefulness as online festivals take over our Instagram feeds: it is a comforting, momentary escape from the unpredictable world outside our doors. Yet simultaneously, this sacred scene is under threat and our live music venues are struggling. With doors closed for the foreseeable future and extortionate rent still requiring payment, industry workers are continuing to call for a ‘National Time Out’ and a rent-free period in order to save the music venues, pubs and other hospitality businesses that have helped icons find fame and Britain find its culture. The Music Venue Trust’s ‘Save Our Venues’ fund has raised over one million pounds to prevent the permanent closure of iconic music institutes nationwide. This is indeed a relief however times still remain uncertain.
We all want to dance again and there are little things that we can individually do to make sure this happens. In addition to donating directly to the MVT fund, many individual businesses such as Camden’s The Jazz Cafe are asking for people to buy experiences now to be redeemed once the venue re-opens, starting from £5 for a pint at the bar. We can raise awareness of the #saveourvenues campaign on social media and directly purchase vinyl’s from independent record shops all over the country (@recordstoreoftheday promotes these wonderful businesses daily). Now more than ever it is the little things making a difference to save one of the country’s biggest industries and one of its people’s greatest joys.
Music is a gift: it is independent and social, entertainment and therapy, a catalyst for every emotion under the sun. Now is the time for us to give back as much as we can to keep this piece of real-life magic alive.
Musical Instagram Favourites
@musicvenuetrust – The home of the Save Our Venues campaign.
@saveyourmusic – Where to find individual venue campaigns and crowd funder links.
@notion – An abundance of lockdown interviews with rising stars and the place to find your next musical hero.
@woofwoofmusic – ‘A digital platform for new music discovery without judgement’. A refreshing read.
@lyrcistoliveby2020 – Suggested by anyone and everyone; optimism and motivation guaranteed.