Newsletter from Employee Health Promotions

June 2020

"It's strangely powerful" - step inside the Empathy Museum

Songs for our times: A COVID-19 playlist

CBS NEWS May 31, 2020, 9:45 AM

It's been a while since we've seen Jon Bon Jovi solo. But with touring at a halt, and his new album release postponed until Fall, he's spending a lot of his time at his non-profit JBJ Soul Kitchen restaurants in New Jersey, as an essential worker, helping cook take-out for the hungry. His wife, Dorothea, took a picture of him recently doing the dishes, "She asked, 'What should the caption be?' And I said, 'If you can't do what you do, do what you can," Bon Jovi said.

The next day, that caption became a chorus … and the chorus a song. "[I] carefully presented it to my audience, which was my family!" he laughed. "And hoped that they liked it enough that I wanted to share it with others. Because, you know, I was proud of it."Correspondent Lee Cowan asked, "Does it feel like you're more, I don't know, creative maybe isn't the right word. But there's something there, right?" "There's something there. And I realized that it was something that we are all going through. No matter who you are, no matter where you live on this planet, we experience COVID-19 together.

The COVID music muse has tapped a lot of bands on the shoulder recently. The Rolling Stones hadn't released an original song in eight years, until this one: "Living in a Ghost Town," complete with a video featuring a fish-eyed view of empty streets, screamed the headlines of our times:

You can look for me

But I can't be found

You can search for me

I had to go underground

Life was so beautiful

Then we all got locked down

Feel a like ghost

Living in a ghost town, yeah

Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande captured the other pandemic's signature – our endless posting of selfies in quarantine – in "Stuck With U," a video musical chat. And if that's not enough of a mirror on our lives, there's the upbeat COVID collaboration of Michael Bublé, Barenaked Ladies and Sofia Reyes, who remind us all we just "Gotta Be Patient." But now there's almost a new genre blossoming that some are calling "Pandemic Pop." Like Luke Combs' "Six Feet Apart".

On Spotify, one of the nation's largest music streaming platforms, there's a "Sound of the Virus" playlist that contains nearly 5,000 new COVID-related songs. (linked below) And while some songs are predictably awful (the parody "My Corona"), others, like "Level of Concern" from Twenty-One Pilots, may just stand the test of time:

Cowan asked, "What does that say that so many artists are trying to figure out some way to write about this?" "People have tried to make sense of this kind of catastrophe for a very long time in song. I mean, this is nothing new," said Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton University. He says what IS new is the tone of many of the new COVID songs which, he says, differs from the doom-and-gloom of pandemics past. Take "The 1919 Influenza Blues," a song performed by Essie Jenkins about the outbreak of the Spanish Flu.

Well it was God's almighty plan,

He was judging this old land,

North and south, east and west,

It can be seen,

It killed rich and poor,

And it's going to kill some more,

If you don't turn away from your shame.

Wilentz said, "People were dying everywhere. Death was creeping all through the air. The groans of the rich sure was sad. That's a great line, right?" Then there's Blind Willie Johnson, whose song "Jesus Is Coming Soon" made the flu seem like the End of Days.

Well, the nobles said to the people,

"You better close your public schools.

Until the events of death has ending,

you better close your churches too."

We done told you, our God's done warned you,

Jesus coming soon.

Cowan said, "It could have been written yesterday." "It put us all away," Wilentz said. "Around the world everybody's, you know, social distancing. Same thing historically. I take a certain comfort from it all, not just that people have endured, but that others have felt the way I'm feeling." Some songs become an anthem for a crisis, even if they weren't written specifically about it, like after the AIDS crisis. "The one song that I remember out of all of that is Queen, 'Another One Bites the Dust,'" Wilentz said. "That's a tough song. It's not sentimental."

During this our current crisis, many of the songs, though, have a softer touch, like Jewel's early release of a song off her upcoming album, titled "Grateful":

When everything's wrong

When I can't find my song

When darkness is all I see

There is a remedy

It's all the little things that make the world go round

It's all the little things that are almost powerful

There's no politician, no sky too dark

No one, no one can take the love from my heart

Jewel told Cowan, "One thing I've really learned in my life is the darkest of times are the most fertile opportunities." "Grateful" was written before the pandemic, but she said it reminds her of overcoming another mental adversity long ago: "You know, I became homeless, because I wouldn't have sex with the boss. I started living in my car, and then my car got stolen, and I was homeless for a year. So, I have really learned to see these are the times that shape us. It's not fun, and it's not comfortable, but we wouldn't change otherwise." She started an online concert and talk series called "Live from San Quarantine," where she sings and talks mental health and mindfulness, a concern she had long before COVID made us all think about self-care a little bit more.

"Our minds are a bit geared to look toward the negative," Jewel said, "and we have to work harder to see what's actually working, and there's a lot working, always. So, it's just taking the wins where you get 'em, really having a chance to celebrate them."

Jon Bon Jovi's idea of celebrating was to bring his fans into his COVID songwriting process. He asked anyone to contribute lyrics to "Do What You Can," including kids from Marsh Pointe Elementary School in Florida. "Kindergarten kid? I'm probably old enough to be parents of their parents!" he laughed. The lyrics the class sent him said so much about our current time. ["My parents try their best, but I can tell that they're stressed"] Bon Jovi said, "For me to be singing it back to a five-year-old who said Mommy and Daddy are feeling stress, they're learning what that word is through song. That was all very touching. It was very moving."

So yes, while there are a lot of COVID-19 songs, each one matters to someone differently. And each one remains a marker of a time that has changed everything. Cowan asked, "How do you think you're gonna be different after all of this?" Bon Jovi replied, "My hope is that we all have a little more empathy, and we have a little more compassion. It'd be really great if out of this, we all learned to be just a little more kind."

For more info:

Story produced by Deirdre Cohen. Editor: Ed Givnish.

World's Biggest Eye Contact Experiment (Global Video)

Resources for Restoration, Reflection, Relaxation

Humans of New York: began as a photography project in 2010. The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalog of the city’s inhabitants. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog, now with over twenty million followers on social media, and provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City.

Virtual Calming Room : Osseo Area Learning Center resource to help students and staff explore strategies to deal with life challenges. When you are out in the world and there isn't a calming room, here are some resources to help you find new ways to manage life and emotions.

MAPS Employee Wellness Resources During COVID-19 : A robust inventory of resources, articles, and opportunities assembled during the period of response to COVID-19.

Parts Unknown: An American travel and food show which premiered on CNN April 14, 2013. In the show, Anthony Bourdain travels the world uncovering lesser-known places and exploring their cultures and cuisine, with the purpose of changing the world through the power of food. The show won twelve Primetime Emmy Awards out of 31 nominations, as well as a 2013 Peabody Award.

May Wellness Calendar Challenge AND the Virtual Employee Benefits Fair Prize Recipients

Alms, Denise

Bachmann, Angela

Backer, Jeanine

Baker, Beth

Ball, Vicki

Bomstad, Amanda

Brandt, Heather

Brown, Andrea

Conn, Laura

Dauk, Emily

Dauk, Sarah

Dupont, Tia

Evans, David

Feliz, Antonio

Firkins, Kelly

Fox, Molly

Goblirsch, Amanda

Gulden, Sheryl

Haggerty, Ann

Halverson, Samantha

Hanson, Elizabeth

Haug, Jenni

Heidemann, Gloria

Henkelman, Gina

Hinz, Kendra

Hopkins, Madison

Hueser, Stephen

Klockmann, Casie

Kohlmeyer, Logan

Kortuem, Marnie

Krause, Heather

Krueger, Mary

Levandowski, Susan

Lewis, Sheila

Loitz, Pam

Marrs, Amanda

Molenaar, Emily

Moody, Ann

Morrison, Sarah

Mueller, Kim

Nelson, Carol

O'Brien, Jessica

Olinger, Kristen

Olson, Christinna

Palmquist, Hannah

Peters, Bev

Peterson, Deb

Reeves, Stephanie

Robinson, Amanda

Ryan, Katie

Schluter, Cathy

Schmitt, Jennifer

Schoeneberger, Scott

Senden, Lynell

Seppmann, Emily

Seys, Renetta

Smith, Judi

Stevermer, Kim

Stien, Cathy

Sundermeyer, Jennifer

Thorpe, Kayla

Trio, Marla

Tweto, Ruth

Udermann, Sam

Uhrich, Calleena

Umbreit, Jake

Vilt, Stacy

Walters, Darlene

Wangen, Chelcy

Warner, Kaylee

Wiese, Mark

Wiste, Sandy

Zimmerli, Lara

Thanks to all who participated, we look forward to providing many opportunities for you to join in during the 2020-21 School Year.

Have a great summer!

We Couldn't Resist!

Minnesota Band Directors perform "On A Hymnsong Of Philip Bliss" by David Holsinger