The year 2020 commenced not only with a new decade, but an entirely new world. COVID-19 began in a small area, and spread globally to create a pandemic that some feel is right out of a zombie movie. Businesses went bust, supermarket shelves are sparsely filled, jobs and wages lost, and many cities and countries went on lockdown. We are alone and detached from the world we knew just one year prior. On April 29, 2020, sibling rock group, Haim, uploaded the new video of their single, I Know Alone. I Know Alone, to me, is the official anthem of the 2020 COVID-19 world.
The original meaning of the lyrics expressed the feeling of ending a relationship. When you leave your partner, the world feels different, due to the void in your current life. Things feel askew, and at times, words cannot express how you feel. Lyrics such as, “Days get slow like counting cell towers on the road/ I know alone and I don’t wanna talk about it/Friday hits and I feel like wasting everybody’s time/ When Sunday comes they expect me to shine,” paints a picture of a person feeling worthless and no one understanding what you’re going through. However, people do understand. Once the single dropped, this song about the end of a relationship took on an entirely different meaning.
The opening lines of this single does sound like a post-breakup scenario, but played now, this is the new normal for most of us. The opening goes like this: “Been a couple of days since I’ve been out/ Calling all my friends but they don’t pick up/ Found another room in another place/ Sleeping through the day and I dream the same”, what a start! We are stuck at home for days on end, some of our friends might not answer our calls for copious reasons. They work remotely, they have to handle their kids, they have financial burdens and don’t feel like chatting, and lastly, your friends are covidiots and they’re not home. The different rooms and different places are our backyards, our verandas, our sidewalks, garages, or any other spot in our restricted space. Lastly, our sleep patterns have altered. We sleep more due to not dealing with rush hour, or we don’t sleep at night. We are worried about absent leadership in the White House, the state of the world, the 2020 election, or any other major issue.
Groundhog Day, on the greatest comedies of the 90s, has a man repeat the same day over and over again. Many of us are now experiencing our own version of this movie, and it’s not funny. Haim expresses this feeling of daily redundancy with lines like: “Some things never change/ They never fade/ It’s never over/ Some things never grow” and “Cause nights turn into days.” Our days don’t seem to change. We go from one room to the next, we watch something from a streaming service, we do some form of exercise, and repeat it again the next day. These lyrics of loneliness are elevated with the music video that accompanies it.
Earlier videos for their new album were filmed pre-COVID in diverse locations with a crew, but this video is far removed from these efforts. Filmed in their parents’ backyard, with just the three of them. Director Jake Schreier worked remotely (I assume via Zoom) and the video is choreographed by Francis and the Lights in the same manner, it is a crewless shoot. The video is done in one long take, no need for coverage. The dances are, well, the kind of dancing one would do alone. Not fancy, but movement to both pass the time and to do when you’re goofing off with your loved ones. Though related to one another, the Haim sisters are spaced apart for this video, practicing the social distancing we are all too familiar with now.
We’re now past the six-month mark of 2020, and things still look grim. Cases are up in many parts of the world, it’ll be ages until a vaccine is ready, and it is still a lonely time. I’m fortunate to be able to work remotely, and I live with my spouse. At least there’s another living, breathing organism I can verbalize my thoughts to. However, I do miss my friends, family, and being able to travel freely. I find myself re-watching this video and thinking about the lyrics more often with each passing day. Regardless of their intention, Haim captured how we’re all feeling during these uncertain times, and achieved what all iconic songs do; pull our heartstrings and remain with us for the days, months, and years to come.