Ashley Aguirre’s last quality outing before heading into self-isolation was her nephew’s 4th birthday party, helping prepare hot dogs. It’s been two weeks since she’s heard the sounds of her family together, and the silence is sometimes deafening.
So, Aguirre, president of Long Beach public radio station KLBP, gave a group of her favorite Long Beach sound selectors a prompt: to share their favorite songs related to loneliness, boredom, isolation as well as holding on to hope. The result was a list of 357 songs and 24 hours of music. The Sound of Solitude.
“The last few months I had been working on marketing campaigns for the theatrical releases of documentaries involving Dolly Parton, PJ Harvey, and Ella Fitzgerald,” Aguirre said. “Given that no one is going to the movies right now, all of my work sort of abruptly stopped and I found myself with a lot of free time.”
Aguirre couldn’t get the song “Isolation” by Plastic Ono Band out of her head, so she finally had a listen, and wondered what other songs she could come up with before inviting her friends in, one of which included a co-founder of Long Beach’s Music Tastes Good festival, Meagan Blome, who added more than 50 tracks.
“I called the playlist The Sound of Solitude,” said Aguirre. “My own little S.O.S. to the world.”
Tracks like “Mask Off” by Future had Aguirre ghoulishly laughing, another favorite is “A Lot’s Gonna Change” by Weyes Blood.
“The song is mournful for a time when ‘no good thing could be taken away,’ but at the same time has an uplifting message that things change and we’ll be fine because we’ve got what it takes,” Aguirre said.
It’s worth noting, the artwork is a monotype print, and while not originally made for The Sound of Solitude, was created by Aguirre’s partner and local artist Noel Madrid.
“While I’ve been sitting at home making the playlist, he’s been making prints of viruses,” she said.
The 24-hours of alone-time listening is also a form of encouragement, urging listeners to support the artists and venues that have taken a hit by not being able to play live.
If you hear something you like, Aguirre wrote on Wednesday when sharing the playlist through Facebook, consider buying the track, the album or other merchandise. Even KLBP, which recently opened its new studio to the public, has had to close to anyone outside of KLBP staff, with no more than one to two essential workers allowed in at a time.
“I hope this playlist makes you feel things,” Aguirre wrote. “Whether, you cry, laugh, or dance—all the feels are welcome. If you’re feeling isolated and looking for a way to connect with friends and family, consider making your own playlist.”