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Way back (what seems like a thousand years ago!) on March 4, my office closed and we were sent to work from home. Knowing that I would have a bit of extra time on my hands, I decided to have some fun on Twitter and Instagram, posting clips of songs from my record collection. I called it #quarantunes, and a hashtag was born.

Here is a special mix for Anthropology News. Some tracks are old favourites of mine, while others are songs by artists that I’ve been introduced to more recently. All speak to some aspect of our current pandemic moment. You can listen to the full quarantunes mixtape on Mixcloud.

Illustration of a cassette tape.

Image description: A grey cassette tape bears a white and yellow label that reads “Quarantunes Mixtape.” Charlotte Hollands

1. “Changes” (David Bowie cover)
Seu Jorge
As we come to grips with the changes associated with COVID-19—and start planning for all the probable changes in its aftermath—here’s a fantastic cover of David Bowie’s “Changes” by Brazilian singer Seu Jorge, from the soundtrack of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zizzou.

2. “Maria Lando
Susana Baca
A friend from Peru introduced me to Susana Baca and this heartbreaking song many years ago, when I was first learning Spanish. It has come to mind more than once as I think about the care workers and other “essential workers” who put themselves in danger during these difficult times.

3. El último habitante del planeta
Mastretta featuring Gema Corredera
This was one of the first songs I thought of when I emerged into empty streets after shelter-in-place and self-isolation guidelines went into effect—is this what it would be like to be the last person on the earth?

4. Satori
Rodrigo y Gabriela
I don’t know if we’re going to reach enlightenment during these stay-at-home times, but at the very least it’s given us some time to reflect. I love this track by Mexico City’s Rodrigo y Gabriela.

5. “Four-Cornered Room
A song title for the stay-at-home experience. The chorus also includes a hearty refrain of “Zoom, zoom, zoom,” which seems appropriate given all the teleconferencing taking place.

6. “Popcorn
Luiz Henrique and Walter Wanderley
I was first introduced to the organist Walter Wanderley in the late 1990s and immediately fell in love with this song. If you’ve got to self-isolate, do it with snacks!

7. Jaan Pehechaan Ho
Mohammed Rafi
Are you watching a lot of movies as you stay at home? This song was featured at the beginning of one of my favourite movies, Ghost World, and is originally from the 1965 Bollywood hit Gumnaam. Keep the dance party going!

8. Kodama
Kikagaku Moya
Kodama are Japanese tree spirits. With all of the memes about nature “returning” during this crisis, I like to think that the sprites, elves, and fairies are thriving too. I’m told that the song is sung in a gibberish language, which makes it even more fun as far as I’m concerned. It is written and performed by the fantastic Japanese psych rock group Kikagaku Moya.

9. Gotta Get Up
Harry Nilsson
Keeping up a regular routine and finding ways to exercise has been a big theme for a lot of people. This song might help motivate you to get up and get moving.

10. “Watch Me
Labi Siffre
It feels like we all need some uplifting in this moment. And what better way than coming together with our friends and loved ones, even if only by video chat? “Watch Me” is one of my favorite Labi Siffre songs and something I’ve been singing to myself when I get ready to FaceTime.

Erin Jonasson is a senior resident anthropologist with Idea Couture, an innovation and strategy firm based in Toronto, Canada. She hosted campus radio shows in her hometown of Winnipeg for over 15 years, and now channels her musical passions through the podcast, Red Moon Radio. She has worked as an applied anthropologist for the last 10 years, and holds an MA in anthropology from the University of Manitoba, Canada.

Charlotte Hollands created artwork as well as spot illustrations of experiences from social distancing life for AN’s pandemic issue. Hollands is an illustrator, artist, and ethnographer who is developing new ways to use illustration within social science research and is currently completing her first graphic nonfiction book, written by Alisse Waterston.

Cite as: Jonasson, Erin. 2020. “Quarantunes Mixtape.” Anthropology News website, June 19, 2020. DOI: 10.1111/AN.1443