Quarantunes: Have a listen to N.L.'s original songs of the pandemic
Musicians across the province are putting their feelings about COVID-19 into song
Musicians have always responded to hard, hard times by putting pen to paper, and picking up an instrument. Some of the most beloved songs in the Newfoundland & Labrador canon were written in response to crisis or tragedy: think of Empty Nets, She's Gone B'ys, She's Gone, or Atlantic Blue.
Today, musicians across the province are carrying on that tradition and sharing songs of loss, loneliness and heroism inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. Many are written, recorded and posted by amateur musicians, bedroom players and pickers who have felt the urge to share their own thoughts and feelings on these strangest of times.
We've collected some of our favourite tracks for you to enjoy, appreciate and celebrate.
It's Been Awhile by Dave and Austin Thomson
Our first entry sounds like it could top the charts on any country-rock radio station. A bittersweet rumination on the pain of closing doors to family and friends. But like many classics in this genre, Dave and Austin Thomson keep one eye on the better days to come: "It's going to be another mile, but only for a while."
Frontline Workers by Leonard Shortall
Fans of traditional music will be all over this gem from Leonard Shortall. The spry Shortall pumps the bellows and tips his cap to the front-line workers who are risking it all to keep the world turning.
COVID-19 Pandemic by Mena Lodge
Mena Lodge borrows the melody from The Joe Batt's Arm Longliners for this song about life in the pandemic. Her songbird voice and skilful guitar playing make this song a treat for the ears, while the lyrics implore travellers to self-isolate and all of us to wash our hands.
A Smile, a Wink and a Nod by Daniel Oakley
In the age of physical distancing, Daniel Oakley reminds us that Newfoundland and Labrador long ago pioneered a no-contact greeting that fits just fine in place of a hug or a handshake.
God Bless the People by Clyde Drew
Our final entry is a solo performance that sounds like it's played by a five-piece band. Clyde Drew dedicates this song to the nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals battling the coronavirus. He plays a mean electric guitar, but he's backed up by a synth-powered recording, a style instantly familiar to anyone who has ever heard a traditional Newfoundland song played to the canned beat of a Casio keyboard.
That's all for now, but as the pandemic keeps going, wave over wave, we know the music will too.