Songs to Get Through a Pandemic, the Closer

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I missed a day for the first time in two weeks on this, so I’m going to accept that I’ve got some blockers the rest of this week and close out my commentary on my pandemic anniversary playlist.

Starting Over, Chris Stapleton

Already a favorite. Stapleton starts off with this neo-country, “Tennessee Whiskey” persona and has proven himself to be one helluva songwriter. This song feels fresh and honest and I love that he partners with his partner, Morgane, as the backing singer. As we move closer to the re-start, this is my theme song.

All in It Together, Mavis Staples

Mavis is foundational music and the fact she just keeps doing it, and preaching it, and singing it, is inspiring. I love that she’s collaborated with Jeff Tweedy, it’s good for both of them, and I saw her at Shoalsfest two Octobers back, and it was apparent how much affection there was between her and Jason Isbell. They get it. We all get it. Mavis is a treasure.

Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, Patterson Hood

The Drive-By Truckers frontman and co-founder brought together Southern rock and blues and punk with this reverence and reckoning of the South in a way that has been potent for two decades now. The Truckers’ 2017 album American Band was The Rising of the Trump era, a howl and a callout for everything going on that allowed it. This song is from a solo album, following his move from Alabama to Oregon, and I enjoy how grounded it is.

Keep On Smilin’, Wet Willie

Hood, Isbell and Mike Cooley do a great cover of this song to close out a reunion concert at the Shoals Theater in Florence, Ala., in 2016, so I went and found it afterward. I probably should have ended the playlist right here, with this chorus …

Keep on smilin’ through the rain, laughin’ at the pain
Rollin with the changes til the sun comes out again
Keep on smilin’ through the rain, laughin’ at the pain
Rollin with the changes, singin’ this refrain

But I didn’t.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World, Tears for Fears

I can’t really explain it. It seemed like a way to end. The huge rolling chorus sounds like an ending. So it is.

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