Love in a time of pandemic: A very special playlist

It’s a rainy and frankly dark afternoon on the ninth day of April as I reach the end of the fourth week of working from home since we cleared the newsroom out, and wisely so, at the newspaper.

This time of self-isolation as the state of Maine, the entire country and the entire planet tries to get through this unprecedented time of dealing with a global pandemic caused by the spawn of Satan called Covid-19 is surreal. It’s also frightening and it keeps shooting anxiety-dipped arrows through my heart and soul and of the hearts and souls of just about everyone I know. But still, we persist.

I keep myself as well informed as possible and also go down enough streaming show holes to keep myself distracted. (Thank You, “Schitt’s Creek!”)

The other thing I do is take lots of walks and when I’m doing them solo, I listen to music, specifically a playlist created a few weeks ago when it became evident in a hurry that we were not going to be dodging this coronavirus bullet and plans and events fell away at breakneck speed.

As I write this, it’s up to 227 songs and is over 15 hours long. Every song has something to do with isolation, hope, longing, love, loneliness and everything thing else that keeps cropping up as I slog through each day, doing the best I can to get my work done, be present in my life,  and support the local economy (in particular local musicians).

‘Love in a time of pandemic’ kicks off with the only song it really could: “The Ride” by Amanda Palmer. It’s from her album “There Will Be No Intermission.”The song is more than ten minutes long and I hang on every second, especially now. Like the rest of us, Palmer didn’t know when she wrote the song that we’d be dealing with a pandemic and that life would radically change with very little notice. And yet, the lyrics are entirely fitting, especially these lines:

I want you to think of me sitting and singing beside you
I wish we could meet all the people behind us in line
The climb to the crest is less frightening with someone to clutch you
But isn’t it nice when we’re all afraid at the same time?

Even seeing them typed out takes my breath away.

And yes, it is nice. I feel less alone. Don’t you?

We all know that no one likes a playlist more than the creator of it, so I’m not expecting people to spend 15 hours going down an Aimsel musical rabbit hole. But I do think you’ll find some tracks on it that will resonate with you. You might cry or dance or get really pissed off or even inspired. Hit shuffle play and have at it. Or use it as a jumping off point to create your own playlist and find your own bunch of songs that will help you. But do me one favor, and always start with “The Ride.”

Here are ten other songs that are on the playlist to give you a hint of what’s in store.

  1. “The Year Will End Again” by Lucy Wainwright Roche
  2. “Shelter” by Lone Justice
  3. “These Four Walls” by Shawn Colvin
  4. “Team” by Lorde
  5. “We’re All In This Together” by Katie Herzig
  6. “Let Love Rule” by Lenny Kravitz
  7. “I Will Not Be Broken” by Bonnie Raitt
  8. “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne
  9. “Laughing With” by Regina Spektor
  10. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House

And here’s the  entire Love in  a time of pandemic playlist:

Please. Stay Safe out there. We’ll get through this. One song at a time.

XX Ponti out.

p.s. I went for a very long walk a few weeks ago and brought my camera and some weird, vintage action figures/dolls with hastily crafted masks along for the trek. Below are two hots from that day. I needed to do something on that particular day. This was it.

Casco Bay Bridge
Casco Bay Bridge between South Portland and Portland, Maine on 3/22/20. Photo by Aimsel Ponti
Mill Creek Park in South, Portland, Maine. 03.22.20 Photo by Aimsel Ponti
Mill Creek Park in South, Portland, Maine. 3.22.20 Photo by Aimsel Ponti


Coping Mechanisms: A 50 song playlist of women artists

Well holy hell. It’s one day since Kavanaugh was confirmed and my head is still in my hands.

So today I did what I always do to help myself cope, at least for a few moments.

I listened to music.

A ton of it.

And, with all due respect to all the MANY male musicians that I adore out there, today was all about us women. Because it had to be,

The 50 song playlist is called “Coping Mechanisms 2018” and here’s how I describe it:

An assemblage of songs by female artists to acknowledge despair, document trauma, instill hope, remind of us the beauty in the world, inspire a revolution and to serve as a reminder about the importance of art, especially when things are at their darkest.

It starts and ends with songs by Tori Amos because of course it does. I’ll share ten of the songs below via YouTube and will link to the entire Spotify playlist below.

“Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos

“This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush

“Talkin’Bout A Revolution” by Tracy Chapman

“Nameless, Faceless” by Courtney Barnett

“Not Ready to Make Nice” by Dixie Chicks

“I’m An Animal” by Neko Case

“You Are The Problem Here” by First Aid Kit

“Hold Out Your Hand” by Brandi Carlile

“Sing” by The Dresden Dolls

“Hit The Road, Jack” by Shirley Horn

Can a song fix everything? Who’s to say?

But can 50 of them help?

I believe they can.

Ponti out.


Aimsel on the Record is sponsored in part by LB Kitchen in Portland, Maine


Please contact me if you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities.

Walk. Run. Conquer. And do these things with the proper soundtrack.

Where to start? Well how about on a supremely poetic note? One random day, while I was living in Massachusetts my friend Sue, her then boyfriend-now husband Robert and I ventured to Walden Pond in Concord, MA. Walden Pond isn’t just ANY pond, it’s THE Walden Pond. The one  that poet Henry David Thoreau made famous with his book “Walden.” about his time living in a simple cabin near the pond.

It’s a truly  lovely spot and Sue and I walked around it while Robert swam across it. But this isn’t the important part of the story. The important part of the story is what happened the next day. The next day, yours truly, who had been something of a sedentary soul went for another walk. This time around an outdoor track near my apartment.

And so it began. My first foray into some semblance of fitness. Soon I joined the Y.M.C.A. and started getting semi-serious about things.

Fast forward to 2000 in Portland, Maine. I started to run.
Then in 2001 I dropped a bunch of weight and started to run more and more.

By the fall of 2001 I was running my first of five half-marathons. I also started doing the famous Beach to Beacon 10K here in Maine and ran that about a half dozen times. It’s a brutal race with a bunch of hills and I get anxious even thinking about it.

Time marched on. As it does. I put weight back on. A lot even. I stopped exercising and slipped into a bit of an apathetic funk.

But in January of 2016 I rose from the ashes like a wanna-be phoenix and started eating a whole lot better. Six months later I had lost some eight. A lot even. But I still hadn’t gotten my exercise groove back.

Then one random day around the end of last August I decided to walk to work. It’s three miles each way and includes a scenic passage over Casco Bay Bridge.

The view from the Casco Bay Bridge of gorgeous Casco Bay  Photo by Aimsel Ponti

And here’s the thing; I LOVE this walk. The views are gorgeous (I snapped the above pic with my phone), the coffee I stop for is always perfect and best of all, I listen to some great tunes along the way.

I’m still walking. Even when it’s minus six degrees out, I walk more often than not.

And now I’m running again at an indoor track not far from my house and I can’t wait to get outside.

The other day, I logged TEN miles. Ten freakin’ miles on that track. And just as important as my muscles and sheer determination was the music in my ears. Which brings me to the heart of the matter. Find your jams. Whatever they are. And listen to them. (Safely of course, please don’t  get squashed by a truck a la The Smiths “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” because your music was blaring and you had zero awareness of your surroundings. You have to know what’s going on around you at all times. Traffic, other people, dogs, etc. Got it? ).

I have a playlist called “A Skip In My Step” and at the moment it’s 45 songs long. I let them play in random order so it’s a surprise every time.Each song means something to me. Some I love because they motivate the hell out of me. Some I love because they’re really fun. Some I love because they touch me in a way that makes me want to take better care of myself. Some make me run faster, some allow me to catch my breath (just a little), some make me smile, some make me think, some remind me of specific things or times in my life. But they all have one thing in common: they help me. Immensely. 

Here are ten of these songs.  I’m sharing them with the hopes of motivating you to adopt a few of them and make them your own or find songs that speak to you and GET MOVING.  Some of these clips are the actual videos, but try not to focus so much on the visuals but rather try to feel these songs, maybe with your eyes closed the first time around. Ready. Set. GO!

Song: “Move”
Artist: Saint Motel
Why I dig it: Because the infectious groove lights a fire under my feet. Gotta get up, gotta get up. Move!

Song: “Strike It Up”
Artist: Black Box
Why I dig it: Because the dancing dream of the 90s is alive and well in this glorious song.

Song: “Wanna be Startin’ Something”
Artist: Michael Jackson
Why I dig it: Because it’s a masterpiece and I often tell myself that if I can make it to the end of the song’s six minutes and three seconds I’ll reward myself with a drink of water.

Song: “Run With Me”
Artist: Humming House
Why I dig it: It’s hopeful and catchy and this band put on such a great show a few months ago that included this song. Love it. Oh and there’s something kind of hypnotic about it, to me at least.

Song: “Natural Blues”
Artist: Moby
Why I dig it: Because it’s really just so cool. And great to run to.

Song: “I Love It”
Artist: Icona Pop
Why I dig it: This song is a party all by itself. Have at it.

Song: “Immigrant Song”
Artist: Karen O with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Why I dig it: Truth be told, I also run to Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” but when I hear this earth-shattering cover from the “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” soundtrack I channel my inner Lisbeth Salander and take no prisoners.

Song: “On My Way”
Artist: SHEL
Why I dig it: Because I adore this band and this two and a half minutes brings me immense joy. It truly is the skip in my step.

Song: “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head”
Artist: Kylie Monogue
Why I dig it: Because la la la. la la la la la. That’s why.

Song: “Smalltown Boy”
Artist: Bronski Beat
Why I dig it: It starts off slowly and the next thing you know, you’re zipping around like a house on fire. I love the energy and feel of this song. Plus…Jimmy Somerville’s angelic vocals.

Find your jams. Get moving. You’ve got this.


P.S. wanna hear my entire “A Skip in my Step” Spotify playlist?