From The Side of the Road… a look back at COVID restriction song ideas

This Valentine’s Day, you might have the opportunity to take the one you love (or at least the one you don’t mind too much) out to dinner, or to a movie. In other words, you might actually be going out somewhere in public, you know with other people around, some who might even be coughing in your direction. But remember during the height of the COVID quarantine days when that wasn’t possible? A romantic evening almost always involved family members we kind of wished weren’t there, i.e. third and fourth wheels, chiming in on what kind of movie to watch, and eating the bread that seemed to constantly be coming out of the oven in those days (remember the yeast shortage of 2020?). 

Lest we forget what it was like, here’s a look back at a column from the spring of 2020, in which I made suggestions for song ideas inspired by being stuck at home, going nowhere, and definitely not sharing heart-shaped candy:

Some aspects of our economy and our society opened up to varying degrees, but the fact remains that we have all spent a great deal of time at home, going pretty much nowhere. I’ve been wondering how this has affected bluegrass songwriters, and what kinds of songs are going to result from this time in seclusion.

Initially of course, the temptation to write some kind of light-hearted COVID-19 song was overwhelming. Songwriters can’t help this, and the more industrious ones have already gotten a few of these cut and released, some with video. First out of the gate, still in the month of March, was Donna Hughes I Miss When Corona Was a Beer, and now there’s a recent one from the South Carolina band Backline, If Corona Don’t Get Me, Quarantine Will. My personal favorite is the new one from Teazed Grass, Virus Why Did You Wander?

After that phase passes, though, and songwriters have to draw inspiration from their current surroundings, will the challenges of home schooling, home improvement projects, or the latest slow cooker recipe really provide fodder for enough good songs in the coming year? Most songwriters travel far and wide, and in some cases thoroughly mess up their lives in the quest for song material. If all else fails, there are always bluegrass songs about bluegrass or songs about the moonshine business, the two dominant subjects in current bluegrass songwriting.

I believe there are ideas to be found right at home, if you look in the right places. For example, my family has recently gotten into the poultry business, and I’ve already written three songs about chickens: Weasel Be Gone!, Under the Heat Lamp, and Please Don’t Crow So Soon.

Without naming names, I know a few bluegrass artists who have used the stay-at-home time to actually go into the moonshine business (see “Services, essential”), and that’s going to lend a whole new level of authenticity to those songs.

Here are a few other ideas for you, though, even if you haven’t gotten into the livestock or homebrew business:

The opposite of the pining for home song:

  • I Long to Get Out of the Old Home
  • Home is Where the Heart is Up to a Point

Gushing pandemic romance:

  • Come Away With Me (to the Living Room)

Deciding what to cook:

  • I’m Making Meal Plans

Bluesy cooking theme:

  • I Smell My Bread a’Burnin

Worship choice:

  • You Watch Your Church Livestream and I’ll Watch Mine

Socially distant relationship:

  • The Girl Behind the Plexiglass

Here are a few to avoid, though, no matter how much these song ideas may speak to your quarantined condition. Their wider appeal is likely to be limited:

  • I Cut My Darling’s Hair (and Badly)
  • The Same Sweat Pants
  • Grandpa’s Homemade Hand Sanitizer
  • Watching Another Crime Series I Never Liked
  • Our Cats Are Sick of Us
  • Yet Another Way to Prepare Okra
  • The Scale Has to be Wrong