This isn’t the summer anyone was planning on.
The world around us feels utterly unsafe, between our country’s haphazard quarantine measures and the societal unrest following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black lives. It’s a very sensitive time in our country’s history, and many people turn to music in an effort to work through those difficult emotions and find healing. For this series, we’ve asked artists to make a playlist for Very Good Light readers and explain what music means to them—specifically when times get tough. Listen to the playlist on Spotify below, and let the music transport you to a place of comfort and inner peace.
SEE ALSO: What it’s like to be a young Black activist in a country that forces you to grow up
This playlist, curated by 25-year-old Toronto-based singer-songwriter sensation, Jonah Yano, is the perfect soundtrack to cry to when the world feels overwhelming. VGL spoke to Yano about his choices, how quarantine has affected his creativity, and more.
Sharon Van Etten, “I Wish I Knew”
What do these songs represent for you?
These are some of the songs that taught me how to be sensitive, and at the same time, an immovable object. Sometimes it’s about using fragility to your advantage, and I think that fragility in itself has a shelf life. There’s only so much a person can handle before they burst in some way.
What was music’s role in your personal evolution?
I think music has been in the passenger seat ever since I discovered it, and so far it has been helping me understand the things I’m experiencing. It’s been a very good navigator for me so far.
Jack Johnson, “All at Once”
Jaco Pastorius, “Portrait of Tracy”
Tracy Chapman, “Give Me One Reason”
Which artists/genres do you turn to to mediate anxiety?
It depends on the type of anxiety I’m feeling. Sometimes I will put on some mellow piano music like George Winston or something. Other times I find chaotic music helps me calm down. Kero Kero Bonito usually does the trick, too. However, I think what I find most effective is silence and a good deep breath—plus or minus a glass of wine.
Charles Bradley, “Changes” (Black Sabbath cover)
Zee Avi, “Honey Bee”
How has quarantine affected you creatively as an artist? Has it also impacted your musical taste?
As someone who primarily makes songs about lived experiences, I’m not finding much inspiration in this solitude. Every day feels the same. Like a long cello drone. I don’t think it has impacted the music I have been listening to, but it has definitely got me listening to it more frequently and attentively.
Thundercat, “Lone Wolf and Cub”
Alfa Mist, “Keep On”
What impact do you hope this time will have on your own musical output?
Since I’m on the cusp of releasing my album, which already has a scheduled release and all that, I am honestly not too worried about output. All this time to myself has really got me thinking critically about a lot of different aspects of my life that were long overdue for consideration. You know, like what I spend my time doing and thinking about. Or what is actually important to me and what is necessary for me to enjoy living. I hope I come out the other side of this a little more sure of myself. I think that’s all I need right now.
Bon Iver, “715 – CR∑∑KS”
Photo courtesy of Jonah Yano