Writing About Music During a Global Pandemic

Some thoughts on music journalism during this unique moment in time.

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This has been an incredibly surreal week.

A global pandemic is upon us and it’s upending daily living for many people. Uncharted waters lie ahead.

At the bare minimum, we will need to make significant changes to our day-to-day routines to prevent the spread of Coronavirus as much as possible. I don’t say that lightly—I realize disruption of community, educational, social, and work routines will put many Americans and people all over the world in very, very difficult spots. We will need to be calm, informed, kind, and proactive to the greatest extent possible.

Every day when I wake up and read the news about this incredibly dynamic and unprecedented situation, I’m concerned for the well-being of my wife, family, friends, students (who are currently on March break), and society as a whole.

I’ll be honest, it’s been really hard to focus on my typical articles recently. This week in particular has been the worst writing week I’ve had in a very long time, probably since the summer of 2016. I’ve just been overwhelmed and at a loss for words.

This loss of words led to delays in my articles. I had a planned piece on the Halloween soundtracks that I wanted to have done for Wednesday, but I also had to prep for an interview with the legendary Leon Sylvers III (a major bright spot in my week) and a work on a bunch of other writing-related stuff.

Thankfully the Leon Sylvers III interview went really well and helped me clear my head a bit. I look forward to sharing that piece with all of you soon. I will send out the Halloween piece tomorrow morning.

Looking long-term, Coronavirus will change the way we live our lives—at least for a little while. I’m hoping I can step my game up in terms of finding ways to explore this and other topical subjects through the lens of music.

I’ve already seen some great coverage on the way Coronavirus is disrupting the lives of touring musicians and the lasting ramifications of cancelling events like SXSW. I won’t force the issue and make it the only topic I cover, of course, but I feel like we are living through a very unique moment in human history and I hope to do a better job covering current events tastefully and thoughtfully in my written work.

I also want to take a moment to recommend using music as a coping mechanism if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed. I know music doesn’t work as a calming device for everyone, but it has certainly helped me with staying grounded and present this week.

Here are a couple of my recent go-to’s when shit gets real.

1) “Distorted Joy” by DertBeats

2) “Purple” (J Dilla Remix) by Crustation

3) “Overload” by Georgia Anne Muldrow

4) “Change” (Instrumental) by Shadez of Brooklyn

5) “Boogie Down's Got The Flavor” (Instrumental) by Foundation & Rezidue

6) “Didn't Cha Know” by Erykah Badu

Do you have any songs that you’d like to recommend to Micro-Chop readers that help you stay calm during stormy times? Consider adding them to this recent discussion thread I started.

In the meantime, I urge all of my readers to listen to the prevailing wisdom of medical experts. Stay calm. Inform yourself. And try to prepare as much as possible for a temporary disruption in daily life.

I’m wishing you all the best and thinking of you. Hang in there.

Thanks for reading, see you on Saturday!