By Alicia Lee, CNN
(CNN) — With millions of Americans stuck at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, people are doing whatever they can to stay sane. For some, that means rewriting the lyrics to their favorite songs to bring a little levity to a grave situation.
Some are channeling their inner songwriter to rework classics by Billy Joel, Queen and others into clever new compositions that reflect how drastically our lives have changed in recent days.
You might be surprised at how well these lyrics fit our times.
‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’
Starting with Harry Truman, this 1989 classic from Billy Joel spits out more than 100 historical events and figures between 1949 and the late ’80s.
But when Brittany Barkholtz, a Billy Joel fan, couldn’t sleep one night earlier this month, the Minnesota woman decided to rewrite part of the song with lyrics that reflect the current crisis, according to Rolling Stone.
“Schools close, Tom Hanks, trouble in the big banks, no vaccine, quarantine, no more toilet paper seen. Travel ban, Weinstein, panic COVID-19, NBA, gone away, what else do I have to sayyyyyy,” Barkholtz posted on Twitter.
“Plenty of people have said I should do a whole song, which could be fun,” she told Rolling Stone. “It’s wild to me because I’m not an entertainer or a humorist. I’m just a boring normal person who made a Billy Joel joke.”
With lyrics that start with, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” this enduring 1975 hit by Queen already seems relevant to the public health emergency we’re all living through.
But Dana Jay Bein, a comedian from Cambridge, Massachusetts, decided to transform the song into a full-on “Coronavirus Rhapsody,” posted in a series of 12 tweets.
“Is this a sore throat? Is this just allergies?
Caught in a lockdown. No escape from reality.
Don’t touch your eyes. Just hand sanitize quickly.
I’m just a poor boy, no job security.
Because of easy spread, even though
washed your hands, laying low.
I looked out the window, the curve doesn’t look flatter to me, to me,” Bein’s parody begins.
His version struck a chord — it’s been retweeted more than 170,000 times.
This catchy 1979 single by The Knack is about how lead vocalist Doug Fieger fell in love with his ex-girlfriend — named, yes, Sharona.
But today our concerns aren’t about finding our soulmate as much as finding a store with toilet paper.
So Chris Mann, a professional singer who competed on the second season of “The Voice,” rewrote the song to reflect that.
“I need toilet paper, toilet paper, toilet paper. I’m out of toilet paper, it’s my corona,” he sings.
“Got to make a grocery run, well that sounds fun
Why’m I out here risking my life, corona?
Where’s a god-damned parking space? Sh*t, I touched my face!
Wait, I think I finally caught my corona!”
Since he posted it to YouTube Mann’s parody has racked more than 1 million views.
‘Leave (Get Out)’
For you ’90s kids who have never heard of the songs above, maybe you’ll remember singing this JoJo song after splitting up with your high school boyfriend.
With lyrics like, “Get out right now. It’s the end of you and me,” this breakup anthem from 2004 got us through some hard times.
Now, JoJo herself has refashioned it for the coronavirus crisis with a new title: “Chill (Stay In).” Thanks to her we all have a catchy new song to remind ourselves to stay at home.
“I never thought corona could be such a nasty b*tch
Now that she’s here, boy, all I want is for you to use common sense.
Stay in! Right now! Do it for humanity. I’m deada** about that, but we will survive,” JoJo sings.
JoJo says she got the idea from a commenter on her livestream.
“Someone … was like, ‘You should just flip the lyrics for ‘Leave (Get Out)’ and tell people to stay in right now,'” she told “Good Morning America.” “And I’m like, ‘You know, you’re right.’ It’s a great idea.”
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