Infectious tunes for terrible times

COVID Chronicles. This is the third in a whole pandemic of columns I wrote for The Sault Star to provide comic relief during our health crisis. This one was published March 27.

What’s on your pandemic playlist?

There are many reasons why COVID-19 might prompt people to download new tunes or rearrange their existing song library.

Some seemingly can’t manage 20 seconds of hand-washing without a suitable song to accompany them. I understand that, having warbled Brush Your Teeth in my best Raffi voice to try to encourage dental hygiene among my kids and, lately, grandkids.

Diamond keeps his hands to himself

In fact, Neil Diamond recently reworked the lyrics to his legendary Sweet Caroline from “hands touching hands” to a more-hygienically-appropriate “hands washing hands.” His public service posting went viral; sometimes viral’s a good thing.

Hordes of singer-songwriters have rushed to create topical tunes for COVID commentary or comedy, a few original but most by morphing pop music classics.

I’m sure some Weird Al wannabe out there is singing a My Corona variation of The Knack’s My Sharona as I write this.

But a myriad of existing tunes have titles or lyrics appropriate to these pestilent times. That occurred to me when I heard a supermarket sound track play It’s the End of the World As We Know It (R.E.M.) and later Cold Sweat (James Brown).

That got me humming Fever. I sounded less like Patty Page than The McCoys, but no one outside two metres of me could tell the difference.

If I really had the fever I might have trotted out Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees (Staying Alive?) or Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever.

Instead, I segued to the theme of ventilators with (I Am) Barely Breathing, a song by Duncan Sheik you might have heard on a couple of TV dramas.

Every Breath You Take (The Police), The Air That You Breath (The Hollies) or You Take My Breath Away (Queen) also would have fit. The Rolling Stones cut right to the chase with Ventilator Blues.

Then something pressed L7 on the jukebox in my head and up came Johnny Rivers singin’ Rockin’ Pneumonia (and the Boogie Woogie Flu).

If you have some time on your hands in the next few weeks, ha ha, you might pop a few appropriate words into the search bar on one of those online music sites and create your own COVID playlist. 

But I’m washing my hands of this one.

THERE ARE A LOT of important questions facing the world today. But since most of them don’t fall into the category of “humour” (we’ve even stopped laughing at Trump), let’s consider this one:

Will shaking hands become obsolete?

The handshake is a traditional form of greeting in western society, not to mention a great way to intimidate others. At one time the only marketable talent required for success in the business world was a finger-crushing handshake.

But in the COVID era we’re too busy washing our hands to shake them, unless all the towels are in the laundry.

And public health officials are urging us to substitute elbow-bumping for shaking hands. Unfortunately, that makes a people greeting each other look like they’re at a wedding and the DJ just put on The Chicken Dance.

If we want people to look incredibly clumsy to someone they’re just meeting, why not go for a full-fledge creative dance routine or an end-zone celebration.

Meanwhile, the same officials who want us to touch elbows also want us to sneeze into them. Eww.

Yeah, let’s make sure to deposit those droplets carrying coronavirus as close as possible to the body part we use to greet other people.

I say we should go back to sneezing into our hands. 

It’s instinctive, as all of those public officials who can’t resist touching their faces at COVID press conferences can attest.

Besides, we’ll be washing them again in a few minutes anyway.

And I’m betting someone will come up with an app that makes your phone spray sanitizer on your hands every time you sneeze.

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