Keep on shining. #PlagueSongs, no. 41

Since the pandemic is now over-ish, I’m posting what I had intended to post as my final “Plague Song,” last March: Carsie Blanton’s “Buck Up”!

I never quite got around to it last year. Several reasons. The pandemic doesn’t have a definitive end point because, well, we will still need vaccinations, which are unequally distributed, and we’re not addressing global vaccine inequality, and then there’s long covid, etc. Conversely, though the pandemic may only be over-ish, many features of pre-pandemic life have changed into this post-pandemic whatever-this-is. As that end-ish point seemed to recede into the distance, so did my “Plague Songs” project.

I began this series in March 2020 — three years ago, this month. Inspired by videos of Italians singing from their balconies, I thought I’d make YouTube my balcony. Singing is life-affirming and anyone can do it — as my own amateur performances demonstrate all too well. I wanted to, and still want to, encourage you to be attentive to joy, hope, optimism. I don’t mean that we should ignore suffering, or naively assume that thing will get better. I mean, instead, that imagining the possibility of a better future can inspire us to act. And being attentive to joy, in whatever form it takes, can balance out the effects of some of what troubles us (of which, there is much, I know).

So, today’s anniversary post is an occasion to reflect on how we’ve changed over the past few years, and a vow to press on. As I say, I’m aware that there is much that might lead you to despair: accelerating effects of climate change, metastasizing political instability, increasing inequality, increasing scapegoating of minoritized groups, and, as Carsie Blanton’s song says, “The papers say we’re on the way to starting World War Three.” But despair is a gift to the forces of oppression. So, we need to find ways to “keep on shining,” as Blanton’s song advises.

If you liked this song, and want to explore the more activist side of Blanton’s work, you might try:

“Shit List” (2021)

“Rich People” (2022)

She also has more light-hearted work, and a wonderful tribute to John Prine.

So, if you enjoy her work, I recommend supporting her on Patreon. (I do!)

Keep on shining!

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