This year has been one of the craziest years I’ve ever lived through. Sure, this isn’t the first pandemic in my lifetime and I’ve dealt with my share of tragedies and traumas, but I don’t think life has been disrupted like this before. This isn’t regular craziness, this is advanced craziness!
I’ve described this year as being a mix of a few tragic years: 1918, 1929, 1963, 1968, and 2001 combined. Why? Spanish Flu happened in 1918-1920 and it was a largely forgotten part of history. I remember at the beginning of the year I was talking with my grandmother about her older sister who died as a baby and she only described it as “there was a really bad flu that year”. Turns out, that year was 1919 and her sister died of the Spanish Flu at only one month old! 1929 was the year of the stock market crash, the beginning of the Great Depression – people losing their jobs and this year we saw record setting numbers of job losses and economic inequality. 1963 and 1968 were years with a lot of political unrest: assassinations and Civil Rights protests. 2001 of course was the year 9/11 happened and that day changed air travel forever.
If 2020 were a movie, what songs would be on the soundtrack? Well I’m here to answer that question. Of course since this is a classic rock focused blog, the songs will mostly be classic rock, but there will be a few modern ones in there because I felt that they were fitting. Below, I’ll talk about what all the songs mean and why I think they would work for a movie about 2020. Let’s go!
1. “I Wanna Be Sedated” – The Ramones
“2020, 24 hours to go, I wanna be sedated”
Who else began their year with this song and felt like it jinxed the whole year? Well I’m raising my hand. This was the song I began 2020 on and let’s just say I wish I could be high this whole year so it could be more bearable. I had a lot of hopes for this year, like being able to travel and apply for citizenship. None of that happened, but I spent my whole year writing some great classic rock content and hopefully brighting everyone’s days with that! Let me know if my content made your quarantine less dull! 🙂
I guess this would be in the opening credits/intro.
2. “Keep Yourself Alive” – Queen
Getting the news about the deadly Coronavirus, this song and “Stayin’ Alive” were in my head constantly. I used to joke in previous years that my new year’s resolution was to not die, well that joke hit differently this year.
I really want to get a tattoo of “Keep Yourself Alive” once this crap is over, commemorating this and all the difficult times I’ve survived. I still don’t have a tattoo yet and I think my first one being a Queen related one would be perfect.
3. “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” – The Animals
“We gotta get out of this place if its the last thing we ever do”
While I didn’t feel trapped anywhere, my parents were travelling around Europe as the pandemic spread across the continent. Luckily they didn’t catch coronavirus and they could fly back home just before all the transatlantic flights were cancelled. It was crazy seeing the news of all these people stranded in other countries and scrambling to get on a new flight and paying through the nose to get back home.
4. “Disorder” – Joy Division
“I‘ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling”
As countries start to announce lockdowns and everything starts to get quiet and lockdown is going on longer than anyone ever thought and everyone’s mental health was in the toilet: people feeling anxious, numb, and depressed. Humans are social creatures and need human interaction. With everyone masked up and people doing the bulk of interactions online and often only seeing loved ones on a screen, everyone starts to feel numb.
Remember when people thought it would just be two weeks and then by summer everything would be back to normal? We were so naive then.
5. “Champagne Supernova” – Oasis
“How many special people change? How many lives are living strange? Where were you while we were getting high?”
This is a song all about feeling lonely and seeing people around you change and drift away from you. No doubt did 2020 change a lot of people. I saw so many friends’ relationships fall apart. People took this time to think about what they want in life and get to know themselves better. In difficult times like this, people learn who is a real friend and who isn’t. I certainly have experienced this.
This makes me think of the Pandemic Special from South Park. Some of you guys are lucky enough to be living somewhere with legal weed and I envy you guys right now.
6. “Personal Shopper” – Steven Wilson
“Buy for comfort, buy for kicks
Buy and buy until it makes you sick
Buy for England, buy it all
Buy online and in the shopping mall
Sell it on then buy it back
Buy the shit you never knew you lacked
Buy the update to compete
Buy the things that make your life complete”
Not a classic rock song, but rather a song released this year and definitely one of my favourites this year. Steven Wilson is someone who isn’t afraid to step away from rock and make music that he really wants to make, a true artist. I like this electronic/dance direction he’s going in and this song has a good message about consumerism. Do material possessions really improve your life that much? Do you really need the latest iPhone, fancy beauty products, and latest fashion trends?
People have been spending even more time on the internet because what else is there to do? All over the internet, you’re being advertised to. It’s all about money and most of it goes to the top, but there are a lot of people in between whose best interest it is to get you to part with your money. Advertising has gotten sneakier and sneakier with “influencers” shilling products constantly and not always disclosing it.
I’ve thought about consumerism before, but not to this extent. Seeing people losing their jobs and seeing the economy crashing was a real wakeup call. Living through two recessions in my lifetime and not so far apart from each other is devastating and really makes me think of going back to basics. Buying things isn’t freedom and it doesn’t make you rich. Being financially stable and having savings is freedom and you’re better off having savings. Plus, think about the environment! It’s not good for the environment if people over consume and live unsustainably.
Look at how much richer Amazon’s getting from them being the convenient option thanks to them driving brick and mortar and family owned businesses out of business with their predatory practices. And the saddest part is Jeff Bezos could easily give all his employees a raise and pay them a living wage, but I guess he wouldn’t be a hundred billionaire if he did that. But who needs 200 billion dollars? Who can even spend a billion dollars? I don’t know how I’d spend a billion.
7. “Comfortably Numb” – Pink Floyd
“The child is grown. The dream is gone. I have become comfortably numb.”
Numb is exactly how I’ve been feeling all year. Not sad, not happy, feeling like a void. With every new bit of bad news, I feel less and less. I’m already used to this year screwing me over. I’m used to it. So many of my friends had lots of hopes and dreams too and they aren’t going to be coming true this year. Hopefully though those dreams can come true later. Another one of those songs perfect for a scene of someone just sitting there in bed, unable to sleep and staring at the ceiling, as I’ve done so many nights this year.
8. “Crazy on You” – Heart
“But I tell myself that I’m doing alright, there’s nothing left to do at night but go crazy on you”
This song was originally about the Vietnam War and people turning to making love as a distraction to escape and an outlet. If you’re lucky enough to be in a happy relationship, you may have been feeling like “Crazy on You”. The world’s falling apart, but your love for your significant other isn’t, might as well live life to the fullest.
9. “Close The Door Behind Me, I’m Leaving” – Kino
Kino’s music is sombre and perfect music to sit there, looking out the window as the rain hits it and think about life. I don’t speak Russian, but I looked up translations of the song lyrics and it makes me think of wanting to leave bad situations and feeling uncertain, but you muster up the courage to go and find happiness because your current situation isn’t fulfilling you, gotta be true to yourself – don’t sacrifice who you are to impress a bunch of fakes. Could be political, could be personal. There’s no wrong way to interpret a song.
10. “Supalonely” – Benee
“I’m a lonely bitch”
This song isn’t classic rock, but it’s so fitting. Very catchy and describing the 2020 mood, even though it was released before we had any idea there would be a pandemic and lockdowns awaiting us. Even if you live with others, you feel lonely because you can’t see your friends and family. Even the most introverted are feeling deprived of necessary socialising time.
11. “Band on the Run” – Wings
“Stuck inside these four walls. Sent inside forever, never seeing no one nice again.”
Lockdown has felt like a prison and I can only imagine it being worse for prisoners who can’t get visits anymore from family because of coronavirus restrictions. As an immigrant, I worry that I’ll never get to see my family again. I feel so lucky I was able to visit them back in December. I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never see my grandparents again. If they fall ill, I can’t go back because of my immigration situation and I don’t want to risk getting coronavirus. Surviving the holiday season seeing photos of everyone I know spending time with their families and I’m not with my family is going to make me feel left out. The holidays aren’t the same without your family.
These lyrics hit me so hard and Paul McCartney spoke for us all. Yes, I know lockdown and social distancing is necessary, but can I not express my sadness that I’m far away from my loved ones and I feel like I’ll never see them again.
12. “Dead End Street” – The Kinks
“What are we living for?
Two-roomed apartment on the second floor
No money coming in
The rent collector’s knocking, trying to get in
We are strictly second class
We don’t understand why we should be on dead end street”
What a contrast to “Sunny Afternoon” and it was difficult to pick a song. I was really trapped between this one and “Living on a Thin Line”, which was a very fitting one too, about getting frustrated with the establishment and seeing through the imperialist propaganda your country pushes – except instead of Americans being told stories about kings and queens, we’re told about the founding fathers and freedom and the constitution and manifest destiny.
This song is basically the 2020 theme song. Who hasn’t been feeling their wallets getting thinner, their bank accounts shrinking, and felt even more skint than before? I think of this song playing in a montage of people in breadlines, applying for the dole, people being evicted. These images make me cry. And the sad reality is there are so many people who aren’t far away from that fate. Always remember that you’re closer to homelessness than being a billionaire.
Are you surprised that people are protesting lockdowns? The government has given no one support, but rather giving trillions of dollars to their corporate buddies. No UBI, just one measly $1200 cheque that didn’t even go to everyone. Unemployment may not even cover rent. If you’re unlucky enough to be American, the healthcare system is a scam within a scam on top of a scam. We’re all on Dead End Street.
13. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” – Green Day
This could be an alternative name for 2020. RIP my dreams. No money. Everything’s cancelled. No joy. The whole song is about loneliness and broken dreams and feeling hopeless wherever you may be. Where I live, Ireland, young people typically leave because there’s no opportunities really outside of Dublin and who wants to pay expensive rent for Dublin when London’s really not that much more expensive and it’s a way better city with more to do? Everyone I know wants to get out and I feel like I’ll never get out of here. I want to live somewhere else. I want to live somewhere more cosmopolitan and interesting.
14. “Free Me” – Roger Daltrey
“Free me from all this pain and misery”
Everyone is shouting this right now. I know I am! I just want to travel again and go and explore new places. Even though it’s not as strict here as other places, I still feel like a prisoner. Especially because I don’t have a car… because I can’t afford one and I don’t have a licence and I am too anxious to drive on the other side of the road. Since this song is the only one on this playlist not on Spotify, here’s the song below.
As Roger Daltrey said as McVicar in the movie… “never get out… never get out…” That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now. I’m never getting out. This country is a prison. I just want to get my citizenship. I want my legal name change. I want my passport. I want to leave… and I can’t.
15. “Street Fighting Man” – The Rolling Stones
“Ev’rywhere I hear the sound of marching charging feet, boy,
‘Cause Summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street”
This summer was full of protests, especially in America. Honestly, I’m lucky not to be there. As long as you weren’t living under a rock, you saw the videos of the unrest. Some protests for sure were for a good cause, like the protests against police brutality. The police are oppressors in America and that other Rolling Stones lyric “every cop is a criminal” still applies 50 years later. I see the numbers and statistics for the criminal justice system and it shocks me how many prisoners there are in America and how many aren’t even convicted of anything. Another sickening thing is the cash bail system and how it keeps poor people in jail. Then there’s the police brutality problem. No one deserves to die even if they have committed a crime. America really is barbaric.
The calls to defund and reform the police and criminal justice systems are absolutely justified. No one should go to jail for non violent drug offences. Instead of spending taxpayer money on jails and cops, why don’t we invest in the people and prevent these crimes from happening in the first place? Invest in healthcare, libraries, schools, parks, after school programmes, education, things like that.
16. “Peremen” – Kino
“Our hearts require the changes. Our eyes require the changes. Into our laugh and our tears and into pulse of veins. Changes! We are waiting for changes.”
You may have heard this song in the protests in Belarus, but I think this is the perfect song for anyone protesting injustice. The song translates to change and that’s what people want. People are tired of the status quo, economic inequality, pollution, regime change wars, imperialism. Why is there always money for bailing out corporations or bombing other countries, but never for feeding and housing the poor? I want change!
I was feeling hopeful at the beginning of the year with Bernie Sanders. He did so well in the first three primaries: Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada, but it all fell apart in South Carolina and afterwards. The Democratic establishment kneecapped him and ensured he would never be in the White House. Bye bye to any hopes of Medicare For All, tuition free university, student loan debt forgiveness, and an end to the wars. Say hello to corporatism, “normalcy”, neoliberalism, and endless identity politics and yaaas queening with Biden-Harris. Well… at least Trump is out of office? But I’m not too optimistic. Anyway, focus on 2022 and getting more progressives in government.
17. “Goodbye Blue Sky” – Pink Floyd
This song not only makes me think of the civilians in countries America is bombing, but also the climate crisis and wildfires. Goodbye Blue Sky. Instead, a lot of grey and red. War needs to end. We need to end our dependency on fossil fuels. We need to hold corporations responsible for environmental damage.
18. “Black Smoke Rising” – Greta Van Fleet
“And the black smoke rises from the fires we’ve been told. It’s the new age crisis and we will stand up in the cold”
This song reminds me of the wildfires all across the west coast of the US. I saw pictures and videos from friends in the area of the sky literally being red and smoke everywhere. No doubt will this have an impact on our climate. The trees are important. Removes carbon from the atmosphere, purifying our air. Provides shade and shelter for animals. They’re good for the soil.
And all this because of someone’s gender reveal? What’s wrong with people? Why not a cake or a piñata? Not everything has to be so extra.
19. “Apeman” – The Kinks
“With the over-population and inflation and starvation and the crazy politicians. I don’t feel safe in this world no more. I don’t want to die in a nuclear war. I want to sail away to a distant shore and make like an apeman.”
Technology is getting too advanced and invasive of our privacy. The environment deteriorates more and more because of capitalism and human greed. You can’t breathe because of all the smog and smoke. The cities are too crowded. What’s the solution? Reject humanity. Return to monke, say the AnPrims. Fifty years after this song came out, we had the “Return to Monke” meme, which was seen all over the internet this year. Living a simple life sounds a lot better now. That… or give me a Supersonic Rocket Ship.
20. “Ten Years Gone” – Led Zeppelin
This year has felt like an entire decade… or even more. What a fitting song title for this year and it’s a song about missing people. Maybe that’s what the 2020 movie should be called!
21. “Road to Nowhere” – Talking Heads
“Well we know where we’re goin’, but we don’t know where we’ve been”
This song describes what I’m thinking the next four years in America will be like. The good news is the people voted Trump out… The bad news is who’s replacing him. Good old status quo Joe and his cop sidekick, Kamala Harris! The same politics that led America to Trump and we’re repeating history. We’re truly on a Road to Nowhere. A vicious cycle. Funny enough, the last concert I was at was David Byrne!
22. “The Saddest” – ssshhhiiittt
This was my most played song on Spotify and I feel like Spotify Wrapped is giving me a diagnosis, Doomer. I thought the last few years were bad, well they were nothing compared to this year!
23. “Loneliest Person” – The Pretty Things
“You might be the loneliest person. You’ll never be as lonely as me”
We’re all SF. Sorrow this year. Life is going alright, some bumps in the road along the way, but we suffer a tragedy and we’re all going insane and feeling lonely. However, in the case of SF Sorrow, he loses his wife in a tragic accident and falls into a deep depression: dissociating, hallucinating, and looking at himself and pondering his life. Thinking about the past messes him up even more and he can’t trust anyone anymore and he withdraws even more and becomes the loneliest person. It’s the closing track of the album. Another lockdown/quarantine anthem.
24. “The End” – The Doors
The ultimate doomer song. I certainly have felt like the world was about to end, or we’re not that far off from it. I can see this song being played towards the end of a 2020 movie.
25. “1921” – The Who
“Got a feeling ’21 is gonna be a good year”
However, I think the true ending of the 2020 movie would end with a group of people singing this song, and now that I’ve lived through 2020, I think this song has a whole new meaning for me. Hope? Uncertainty? Could it get even worse? What awaits us on the other end? I’m going to just stay pessimistic so I don’t end up disappointed. Now I really understand how Squidward feels:
What songs do you think describe 2020? Share your thoughts in the comments section! 🙂
Shoutout to my friend Patrick for supporting the blog!
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