Does listening to the news these days make you feel like you are living in the first chapter of a dystopian sci-fi novel? And even worse, it is a really bad one that is working with a selection of only approximately four tired adjectives? Well, a playlist like this might help you to pretend, briefly, that you are in another place in time and space, and that this abysmal moment in human history is just a grain of sand on a beach in a faraway galaxy where there are no despots with painfully limited vocabularies. Here there are only butterflies, seashells, and waves crashing on purple sand under the crepuscular glow of seven suns.
These are all old songs, because lately it is not enough for me just to imagine that I am someplace else. I need to be sometime else too.
- “Fly me to the Moon,” Nancy Wilson. Many people have sung this song, but this version is the most surreal and therefore the most effective for imagining that you are literally flying to the moon and not just listening to a love song with a metaphorical moon landing.
- “Up on the Roof,” The Drifters. This song makes me feel like I am up on the roof, and everything is okay up on the roof.
- “Mele Kalikimaka,” Bing Crosby. Christmas AND Hawaii. How much happier can you get? Christmas AND Hawaii AND an independent inquiry led by a special prosecutor? Shhhhhhh brain, no more words. When I was a kid growing up in the woods, my best friend and I used to listen to Bing Crosby LPs on the wrong speed for fun. This is really fun to do and will also get your mind off of “things.” When you grow up in the woods you have to make your own fun, which makes for superb coping skills later in life.
- “Fiesta Cubana,” Caterina Valente. I’m at a fiesta Cubana sixty years ago!
- “How High the Moon,” Ella Fitzgerald. Just don’t listen to the lyrics too carefully.
- “Return to Me,” Dean Martin. This one makes me feel like I am starring opposite Dean Martin in a dreamy 1950s CinemaScope western that never was.
- “Somewhere Beyond the Sea,” Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and like a hundred other people. I don’t know what is beyond the sea, but it might be better than what is on this side. Oh right, it’s Europe. Vive la France!
- “Aquellos Ojos Verdes,” Nat King Cole. There is something magically transporting about this entire album (A Mis Amigos). If I try to use words to describe it I will ruin it.
- “Granada,” Caterina Valente. This song makes me feel like I am in Granada. I have no idea what Granada is like, but I would like to go there now. Not the real Granada, this Granada please.
- “The Breeze and I,” Caterina Valente. I can FLY and the breeze is taking me somewhere FANTASTIC. Yes, there are a lot of Caterina Valente songs on here. Caterina Valente was a fourth or fifth generation circus performer – or something like that – that you have almost definitely never heard of, and she really kicks butt into next week. You should listen to her, because it is impossible to be melancholic about the future of the human race if you are listening to Caterina Valente.
So in the words of the great Daniel Tiger, “Close your eyes, and think of something happy!” But also remember to call your congressperson, protest, vote, etc.