Alan Eisenstock: Beating Covid-19 with Music

(Editor’s note: When Palisadian Alan Eisenstock is not researching and writing one of his nonfiction books (18 thus far!), he pursues what he calls “a crazy labor of love side project” that he started in mid-March: sending a weekly Covid-themed playlist of songs to his family and friends. These playlists (which can be downloaded on Spotify playlist span rock ‘n’ roll and pop music from the 1950s to 2020, and Eisenstock adds one or two lines of commentary about each song that is clever, amusing and informative.)


Hi, Everyone,

Covid has spread through the WH like wildfire. According to the CDC (formerly the Center for Disease Control now the Center for Disinformation and Contradiction), the disease spreads through the air. But how about touch? And what’s the course the plague takes? What to do? Idea. Here are 18 illuminating “Covid” songs. Listen up!


  1. “Doctor Robert” The Beatles. Dedicated to Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the so-called Center for Disease Control. “Dr. Robert… helps you to understand.” Not this guy.
  2. “Every Breath You Take” The Police. Monster hit written by Sting in 1983. Song won two Grammys. Best Police song? I vote yes.
  3. “The Air That I Breathe” The Hollies. British group led by Graham Nash recorded this in 1974, a cover of a song written by Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood.
  4. “Try Not To Breathe” R.E.M. The best band out of Athens, Georgia. This is a song about death. What can I say, this is a dark playlist. Poll question: better trio, R.E.M or the Police?
  5. “Human Touch” Bruce Springsteen. LOVE this song. Over six minutes and it’s not long enough! Patti sings backup, Jeff Porcaro of Toto plays drums, and Randy Jackson of “American Idol” plays bass guitar. Dawg.
  6. Etta James

    “Don’t Touch Me” Etta James. Born Jamesetta Hawkins. R&B, soul, gospel goddess. Great song. My birth name is Jamesalan Eisenstock Hawkins.

  7. “Touch Me” The Doors. Jim Morrison sings this 1968 hit written by band member Robby Krieger. The Doors took their name from an Aldous Huxley novel, The Doors of Perception. The rock singer Meatloaf took his name from my first book, Inside the Meat Grinder.
  8. “And It Spread” The Avett Brothers. Best band out of Concord, North Carolina and one of my favorites. They’re singing about last year when love spread instead of Covid.
  9. “Hurt So Bad” Linda Ronstadt. Any excuse for a Linda song. Here she covers Little Anthony & the Imperials. I shared chips and guac with Linda and Jerry Brown at the famous Lucy’s El Adobe on Melrose in Hollywood. I convinced Jerry to run for president. My bad.
  10. “Catch My Disease” Ben Lee. Australian, half Hindu, half Jewish, married to actress Ione Skye. I saw him at House of Blues, opening for Fountains of Wayne.
  11. “Fever” Peggy Lee. A perfect song and second time for the playlist. Jazz singer Peggy, born Norma Deloris Egstrom, began as Benny Goodman’s singer.
  12. “Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On” Jerry Lee Lewis. Big Maybelle recorded this first in 1955, but The Killer, aka The Wild Man of Rock, had the hit in 1957.
  13. “Night Fever” Bee Gees. From Saturday Night Fever, recorded in 1977. “There is something going down and I can feel it…”
  14. “The Fever” Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. Closely connected to Bruce and the E-Street Band with John Lyon the frontman. Catch this fever, written by Bruce himself.
  15. “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu” Johnny Rivers. Hit song in 1972 originally recorded and written by Huey “Piano” Smith in 1955. Rivers added his Louisiana rockabilly style, which is strange since his real name is John Ramistella and he’s from NY.
  16. “Can’t Feel My Face” The Weeknd. Big hit by Canadian R&B singer/songwriter Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, a modern Michael Jackson? Play it on the weeknd or on weekdys, too.
  17. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” Blue Oyster Cult. 1976 psychedelic-ish hit dealing with eternal love and death. Main guy in the group? Buck Dharma. Which is going to be my pen name going forward.
  18. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” Bob Dylan. From the soundtrack of the 1973 Sam Peckinpah film, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Became a big Dylan hit.

Well, this is Buck Dharma signing off. Hope this week’s playlist–covering the course that Covid takes–didn’t bum you out too much. If so, some advice…

Don’t Forget to Disinfect and… PLAY IT LOUD!

The link again: playlist

Fact Check

I was not born Jamesalan Eisenstock Hawkins, although my father’s name is Jim.

Meatloaf did not take his name from my first book Inside the Meat Grinder. By the way, in my pre-vegetarian days, I made a mean meatloaf.

I have eaten many times at Lucy’s El Adobe, but never with Linda and Jerry Brown. Running for president was all him.


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One Response to Alan Eisenstock: Beating Covid-19 with Music

  1. Rosalie says:

    Maybe Covid could be avoided if we pay attention to The Police’s song about social distancing from 40 years ago: “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”
    And in a battle between two trios — The Police vs REM — it’s The Police again and again.

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