What's On Your Pandemic Playlist?

June 10, 2020 | Charlene Lee

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In uncertain times, there’s always music to help us get through. Along with baking, cooking, and gardening, music has been a source of positivity for many. I’ve been able to safely isolate at home, and over the last couple of months I have played many songs on repeat.

Man playing trumpet
If you have neighbours who are musicians, your playlist might sound like this! From the Toronto Star Photograph Archive.


Metal Skin – Sam Roberts Band

This song, from the 2014 album Lo-Fantasy, is guaranteed to instigate a home dance party. Lo-Fantasy is also available on Hoopla.

Another song that's been on repeat over the last few months is "Cut Loose" by Zaki Ibrahim. Toronto-based Ibrahim released The Secret Life of Planets in 2018, which is an uplifting atmospheric mix of pop, disco, hip-hop, house, and R&B. 


I was curious as to what some of my colleagues have been listening to during the pandemic. Keep reading to find out what other TPL staff have been listening to while isolating at home!

To access some of these songs online you will be asked to sign in with your library card.


Eldi, Youth Hub Librarian

The Complete Birth of the Cool

The Complete Birth of the Cool – Miles Davis (Available on Hoopla and Naxos Music Library Jazz)

A timeless classic and great easy listening jazz album. It’s a great introduction for a newer generation of jazz listeners who are not too familiar with the genre. I recently watched the Birth of the Cool documentary (2019) on Davis’ life and it inspired me to dive into his vast and eclectic discography. I decided to begin with this album.


Julia, Public Service Assistant

Forever Overhead

Forever Overhead – Tim Baker (Available on Hoopla)

I don't know if it's the warm organ sounds, the soothing tones of Tim Baker's voice or simply the nostalgia of happy Hey Rosetta! memories, but this album just puts me at ease. The opening track "Dance" expresses sentiments of longing I'm sure many can relate to right now. And a slight change of lyrics during the second half of "Two Mirrors" might be a nice release of pent up emotions as well! Check out Tim Baker's Instagram for live performances from his plant-filled home, as well as readings from some of his favourite books on Sunday evenings. 


Rachel, Branch Head

The Inner Light – The Beatles

Best B-side ever. Poignant. Without going out of your door, you can... do all the things.

I Want to Break Free – Queen

Don't we all? From intersectional systemic oppression, yes, but also our own apartment. 

All Things Must Pass – George Harrison

Because even COVID-19 can't last forever, right?

Gotta Go Home – Boney M.

The outfits! The song. The outfits!  I want to live there.


Mike, Youth Services Specialist

John Prine

John PrineJohn Prine (Available on Hoopla)

I had only a passing knowledge of the music of John Prine before his death, but have spent the past couple of weeks slowly becoming familiar with his amazing catalogue. His self-titled debut from 1971 has such humanity and compassion, a reminder from the past that we have to look out for each other during trying times. I can't help but pick up my phone to call someone every time I get to the end of "Hello in There." 


Christina, Public Service Assistant

Despair – Yeah Yeah Yeahs (from the album Mosquito, which is also available on Hoopla)

Despite the title of the track, it's a nice pick-me-up song – something that's needed when you're filled with feelings of uncertainty, sadness, and well, despair. Also, the video is amazing!


Bryce, Adult Services Specialist

Big Star- #1 Record & Radio City

Big Star: #1 Record & Radio City (Available on Hoopla)

Two albums of truly great power pop from the early 70s, remastered and re-released together in 2006. Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis and released by Stax... and then promptly (and sadly) lost in the record business shuffle. Big Star eventually became a kind of cult favourite during the 80s & 90s indie scenes, but it's sad to think that this music was pretty much ignored for decades.


Marzia, Senior Collections Specialist

Under the Influence

Hmmm not music, but a podcast. Under the Influence. Perfect for dog walking, strolling down memory lane laughing out loud while physical distancing (not so hard in the suburbs) as Terry O'Reilly tells fascinating stories that "connect the dots between pop culture, marketing and human nature".


Scott, Children's Services Specialist

Let Go (Everybody Move Your Body Listen to Your Heart) – The Irrepressibles

I clicked on this song on YouTube one insomniac night and it is the perfect song for managing self isolation - letting go, dancing and being kind to yourself. It's become my pandemic anthem and try my best to dance to it every day.


Elizabeth, Adult Services Librarian


Disfamer – Bill Frisell (Available on Naxos Music Library Jazz)

Bill Frisell, best know as a jazz guitarist has done a lot more.  Folk, country, Americana, and, on this CD, he pays tribute to photographer Disfarmer whose captivating images captured the spirit  of the American south.  It's a very unique CD. Folksy, solemn, intimate and meditative.  You could play this all evening without interruption. 

Music for Lute-Harpsichord

Lute Suite in G Minor (arranged for lute and harpsichord) – Bach, Johann Sebastian. BVW 995 

If you're looking for relaxation music other than new age or yoga, try this beautiful arrangement by Elizabeth Farr, organist and harpsichordist. "Music for Lute-Harpsichord" is available on Naxos Music Library.

The Ozell Tapes

The Ozell TapesMarcus Miller (Also available on Naxos Music Library Jazz)

This has got to be one of the best funk jazz CD's ever with Marcus twanging out hip rhythms on his electric guitar and sometimes switching to clarinet, sax or electric bass.  Most tunes are composed by Miller himself with other compositions by Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Gershwin.  When it came out in 2002 the AMG and JazzTimes music critics raved about it.


Diana, Senior Services Specialist – Programming & Events

Future Nostalgia

Future Nostalgia – Dua Lipa 

I LOVE the song "Don’t Start Now". It’s such an upbeat, positive track that’s been great for those at-home workout sessions. In fact, her whole album is pretty uplifting and re-energizing. I’m not a fan of disco but her album has the right amount of that vibe and has been described as "pop-funk that gives way to slick, Kylie Minogue-inspired disco". I also really liked her last album "Dua Lipa" (available to borrow and on Hoopla).

Till We See the Sun – Domanique Grant

Toronto-based singer/songwriter, Domanique Grant performed an original, uplifting song called "Till We See The Sun" for residents of The Esplanade community on March 30. The feel-good performance was organized by Jamii, an arts organization with the intent of building community in The Esplanade. Jamii is also a Culture Days artist that actively works with the St. Lawrence Branch


Karl, Youth Hub Librarian

Don't Stop Me Now – Queen

I try my best to put this song on when I'm already having a good time around the house, but it works just as well as a pick-me-up. It just takes all those positive emotions to another level. Never a better time to be silly. Just sing, dance, and jam out along with Mr. Fahrenheit! (Good chance no one's watching, just let go!) 



For more home entertainment ideas, check out these posts!


If you don't have a library card you can sign up for an Instant Digital Card, which gives you access to Overdrive eBooks and eAudiobooks. They have a collection of streaming movies, too!


Have you been listening to favourite songs on repeat while physical distancing? What music would you recommend? Share in the comments below!