This is the second week in which I've been deluged with painfully topical songs about the coronavirus pandemic. I don't mean emotionally painful -- I mean like it's nails on the chalkboard of my soul painful. I get it -- if you're "sheltering in" in an area that is not Washington State or New York City, you probably feel like you're going crazy for the sake of a small probability of harm.
Well, one of my dad's friends was hospitalized (he's ok), probably a quarter of my 50 students got the virus (theyre ok), and several of them have lost parents and loved ones.
So. Please stop trying to write songs about this when your most direct relationship to coronavirus is waiting on line at Costco and getting back in your mini van. Come back when you have something real to say.
That said, probably the best "topical" songs right now are the ones that have accidentally become topical -- mostly because they aren't waited down with an attempt at emotional weightiness. That's certainly the case with Wolf Van Elfmand's "Somebody Help Me."
"This song was recorded during the session for my upcoming LP. However,
I’d been toying with the idea of cutting a few tracks for a more
cohesive album-vibe, this one included," Van Elfmand wrote on Facebook. "Then, a week or two after
sheltering in place I hit up my producer, pedal-steel playing, maestro
Ben Waligoske and said 'Hey Ben, maybe we should just release Somebody
Help Me (Get Outta Here) now,' it being a song about desperately wanting
to escape your house. Ever kindly, he obliged. It seemed to align with
the times and we made it happen.
"I’m so grateful for this band! The tune is hoisted by the brilliant
fiddling of Eddie Dickerson w/ Dan Africano, Neal Evans, Ben Waligoske
and Eric Luba on keys."
Van Elfmand has a puckish sense of humor -- I wrote about "Flexible Cowboy Man" for The Boot, a charming meditation on cowboys learning yoga. Van Elfmand's recent album, Music for Minors (3 to 300) is mischievous and lighthearted, a tone continued on this single. It's not the only thing that'll get us through this, but taking ourselves a little less seriously will make the path a whole lot easier.
Wolf van Eflmand -- Official, Facebook, Instagram