What’s your quarantine theme song? As all Facebook and Twitter devotees know, it’s the title of the single that was the No. 1 song on your twelfth birthday.
I am no stranger to social media silliness. I rarely pass up the chance to complete a Facebook survey—but only if it sets up my signature smartassery. And I always respond to copied-and-pasted posts that beseech friends to answer—with one word—“how we first met.” I invariably reply “prison.”
The process of determining your quarantine theme song, though, isn’t the type of Facebook game I usually play. That’s because it offers no room for creativity; you simply report the fact. I do like music, though, especially—and I make no apologies—Top 40 tunes, so I Googled April 16, 1970.
I was lucky. “Let It Be,” the beautiful Beatles song, checks all the boxes for this exercise. The phrase sets an appropriate attitude for these weird and daunting days. And the song has enduring appeal and popularity. Two years ago, Paul McCartney explained the origin of the song to James Corden during an emotional episode of Carpool Karaoke. The former Beatle had written the song following a dream in which his deceased mother came to him and said everything was going to be OK. “Just let it be.”
Plus, like the millions of music-lovers who made it No. 1, I really like the song.
But to truly earn the role of my personal quarantine theme song, the tune has to do more. So on a day leading up to my sixty-second birthday (a frickin’ half-century after I turned 12), I looked to the lyrics to see how “Let It Be” measures up as a leitmotif for a time when we huddle at home to diminish the spread of Covid-19.
“For though they may be parted …” This viral scourge has wrecked our world. People have had to say goodbye to loved ones, to their jobs, to the milestones of life, and so much more. And to make it worse, parting words can only be said through windows or on Zoom and other electronic connecting points. Some of what we’ve collectively lost can be regained, but so many lives and events are gone forever.
“Speaking words of wisdom …” If we have learned nothing else during the pandemic, we should all take home the lesson that scientists offer solutions. Some politicians—and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear is a shining example—have heeded the words of epidemiologists and public health professionals and insisted that their constituents take safe and sane precautions, But other officials have delayed such measures or have taken political posturing to absurd lows.
“I wake up to the sound of music …” I’m forever seeking solace and inspiration in music: I constantly listen to songs from the decades of my life; ideas and phrases frequently come to my mind in rhythm and rhyme; and I often do a deep dive on particular songs, artists, or musical experiences. Just this week, I have zeroed in on the early music of Chicago (watching a concert video) and on the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (viewing a modern-day version of the musical on YouTube). Notably, both the concert video and the original Superstar were created in 1970.
“And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines on me.” I’m afraid of catching Covid-19; my asthmatic lungs might not fare well against the virus. I fear the loss of my job and for the livelihoods of millions of Americans and scores of neighbors, as I also grieve for those who have already lost their jobs. I’m angry that our leaders won’t learn from this catastrophe and create a more affordable health care system—or that foolish citizens will again be fooled by con artists in power. There is much about this crisis that makes me think we won’t emerge from our dark days with any semblance of a functioning, decent society. And yet I believe we will. I’m not a religious man, but I believe in the light.
“Let it be.” Perhaps the only phrase of this song that doesn’t ring totally true with me is the title itself. Paul McCartney interpreted his mother’s words in that dream to mean “don’t worry about it.” And it’s true that much of the damage done by the novel coronavirus is out of our control. But what happens next—in our lives, our communities, and in our nation—is up to us. We can show compassion, we can offer help, and we can vote. Believe what you will about a scripted future, but do what you can to make it better.
I want to listen to words of wisdom. I want to believe there will come an answer. And I want that light to shine on until tomorrow.
So yes … Let It Be.