Monday, April 6, 2020

Alone: Tired of Being Alone

Al Green: Tired of Being Alone

I’ve already lost count of how long I’ve been stuck at home—the few times I've gone out to get provisions or walk doesn’t really relieve the feeling of confinement—and it is getting tiresome. Other than the fact that the “current situation” has left us with nothing to look forward to—concerts are canceled, vacations are canceled, reunions are canceled, even our family seders are canceled, and I suspect that my daughter’s trip home this summer will be canceled—the hardest thing to deal with has been the isolation.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m generally an introvert—what I guess is considered a social introvert, meaning that I’m more comfortable in small social settings, enjoy being alone, and can appear to be more extroverted in some situations (my “Reunions Dad” personality), but then require some alone time to recharge. So, in theory, this whole staying home thing is not far from my wheelhouse. (But I’m not a hermit or a hoarder). And, luckily, I have my wife with me, so I’m far from really alone.

But since this whole thing started, as I mentioned in my last piece, I’ve thrown myself into connecting on social media and with my college classmates. We did that large Zoom gathering, and another one yesterday with about 100 people, which included a remarkable coronavirus panel, which I'd argue equaled anything that you can see on cable news.  Plus, a yoga demonstration. And as part of the planning process, I’ve been in contact by email, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Slack, and even telephone with classmates (and an actual face-to-face meeting with one who lives around the corner, from a safe distance), and there’s always some personal catching up, even with people that I was never really close with. Even on work calls, with clients, co-counsel and even opposing counsel, there’s often a discussion of “how are you doing?" And like many others, we are using Zoom to have family calls and hang out virtually with friends. Just over two years ago, I wrote a piece on my personal blog called “In Praise of Social Media,” during a period when Facebook and other platforms were being rightly criticized for their flaws. But I saw the value in the connections that I made and maintained online, and if anything, it is more important right now. As someone with my personality type, this sort of social interaction from a distance is really perfect.

Al Green is, of course, one of the all-time greats, and his song “Tired of Being Alone” is, of course, on one of my many COVID-82 playlists. Released in 1971, it reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and # 7 on the Hot Soul Singles Chart, and continues to be popular today. Because it is a great song. Of course, it isn’t about being forced to shelter in place, but about a lost love, because you don’t write great soul songs about being stuck in your house alone, living in sweatpants and bingeing Netflix. Although many musicians finding themselves with time on their hands are writing songs for the “current situation”—let me recommend Dan Bern’s new EP, Quarantine Me if you want to hear some good ones—I doubt that they will ultimately have the lasting appeal of “Tired of Being Alone.”  Green also has covered the great Hank Williams song, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."  So, yeah, he's lonely.

Speaking of musicians stuck at home, how long will it be before there’s a genre of “how hard it is to be at home” songs to rival the many, many “how hard it is to be on the road” songs?

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