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Quarantine dreaming: The best songs about being alone

Woman sitting by water listening to music on an MP3 player

Loneliness. 

With lockdowns, social distancing, and border closures around the world, this is one feeling we’ve all experienced at one point or another this year.

There’s no sugar coating it: being alone is tough. But music has a way of resonating with us—lifting up our spirits when we feel down, evoking that bittersweet sense of nostalgia,  or simply reminding us that someone else out there feels the same way.

Whether you’re missing someone or lockdown is getting you down, these 10 songs will keep you company when you’re feeling alone. Check out the full playlist here, or watch the videos below. 

Brand New – Jesus Christ

Released as part of Brand New’s 2006 album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, this haunting song explores band frontman Jesse Lacey’s relationship with loneliness, faith, and the afterlife. In Jesus Christ, Lacey contemplates everything he has done in his life and questions whether he deserves to ascend to heaven—or if, in fact, there even is a heaven.

Jesus Christ encapsulates the saying, “We’re born alone and die alone”. With sorrowful lyrics like “My bright is too slight to hold back all my dark” and a gradual build-up that culminates in its final stanza, Jesus Christ will give you a profound sense of nostalgia and sadness—yet somehow, also makes you feel less alone for feeling that way.

Modern Baseball – Pothole

Modern Baseball is most commonly known for their pop-punk tendencies, but Pothole breaks the mold. This powerful song from their 2012 album Sports strips the band down to its bare musical bones with light acoustics and raw vocals. The result is a poignant and honest reflection on the loneliness and monotony of life on the road.

The Story So Far – Clairvoyant

Clairvoyant put American band The Story So Far on the map, and for good reason. In a departure from their pop-punk style, this heart-wrenching acoustic track captures the feeling of helplessness that comes when you know you’re in a relationship that’s crumbling. 

According to bassist Kelen Capener, Clairvoyant was written about the band’s experience on the road and the lack of control they felt over their lives and relationships back home. Like a fortune-teller peering into the future, Clairvoyant is equal parts a reflection on happier times—“Don’t paint me black when I used to be golden”—and a realization that the relationship is coming to its end (“This is your life, there’s no way to run from it”).

JAWN – Fade To Black

Local artist JAWN, or Jonathan Chan, captured the hearts of Singaporeans with his debut single and music video. A beautiful track that channels early John Mayer, Fade To Black explores the loneliness that comes from a breakup and the healing process of letting go.

Great Lake Swimmers – I Could Be Nothing

Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers are known for their atmospheric, hypnotic tracks, and I Could Be Nothing is another great addition to their discography. Released in 2010 as part of the Personal Effects soundtrack, the song weaves together the band’s signature folk sound with violin and cello in a haunting meditation on loneliness and connection. While I Could Be Nothing is deeply melancholic in parts, the ultimate message is uplifting: it reminds us that even if we’re feeling lonely, we’re part of the fabric of the universe where every piece fits together.

NF, Sasha Sloan – Only

“I can’t be the only one who’s lonely tonight.”

With this simple opening line, hip-hop artist Nathan John Feuerstein—or NF—sums up the feeling of the entire world in lockdown. Despite being released in 2019, Only is more relevant today than ever as more people find themselves disconnected from the world around them.

In Only, NF raps about the pain and loneliness that comes with fame, but finds solidarity in the belief that others out there feel the same way. With its uplifting message, NF reminds us all that no matter how hard life is, there’s strength in knowing everybody is going through the same thing.

Wilco – How to Fight Loneliness

Wilco formed back in the ‘90s, and since then the band has become an institution in the American alternative rock scene. How to Fight Loneliness was released in their earlier years as part of their 1999 album Summer Dreaming, and the message of the song still resonates to this day.

Although the song appears straightforward with its simple lyrics and guitar-based composition, How to Fight Loneliness is loaded with meaning. The ironic repetition of the line ‘Just smile all the time’ offers a powerful reminder that happiness can’t be forced and that sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay.

The Dear Hunter – Is There Anybody Here?

An American progressive rock band hailing from Rhode Island, The Dear Hunter is known for incorporating an eclectic array of instruments and styles in their music. Is There Anybody Here? showcases this perfectly—the composition brings together the piano, a string quartet, guitar, drums, and percussion instruments in an eerie track about loneliness and despair.

Throughout the six-minute-long song, band frontman and lead singer Casey Crescenzo truly shows off his impressive talents as a musician. In addition to his beautiful vocals and dream-like composition, the song features an incredible instrumental solo that has to be listened to in order to be appreciated. 

Foxing – The Medic

The Medic was featured on Foxing’s debut studio album The Albatross, which was released in 2013. A blend of chamber rock and emo, this soulful track is infused to the brim with emotion—in part due to lead singer Conor Murphy’s impressive vocal range, and in part thanks to the raw energy that comes through with the delivery of each and every line.

Deeply affecting and brutally honest, The Medic is about the innate desire we all have to be loved by another person. In an interview, Murphy talks about the beauty of playing the song live because “[it’s] a collective effort by us and the crowd. It feels kind of like we’re all basking in the same shame and feeling pretty okay about it.”

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Quarantine dreaming: The best songs about being alone
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