Foreword by Jocelle Koh
Playlist Notes by Amanda Tee
Singaporean folk artist Amanda Tee‘s music stands out as an oasis of calm amongst the throes of trendy new singles and sampled beats. Inspired by a serene selection of folk, pop and all-round timeless tunes by amazing singer-songwriters, Tee’s latest single “The Only Absolute” was birthed in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. While so were the creations of many others, the pandemic prompted Amanda to look back on her unique set of experiences with nostalgia, leaning on some of her favourite tunes for support.
Below the serene singer-songwriter shares the songs that inspired her latest single and reflects her outlook as she looks back on simpler times.
Track 01: Why Worry – Live – Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris
The title sums it up – about two months into Singapore’s first lockdown in May 2020, I stumbled upon this song and loved how it was both matter-of-fact but full of feels at the same time. It’s also a beautiful performance by veterans Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. I did a cover of it with my friend Lin (from the band General Lee), which you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUhFQjBd2mo
Track 02: Amelia – Joni Mitchell
This song is usually on my travel playlist, but with travel out of the equation in these times, listening to it while grounded brings a whole new meaning. Joni Mitchell has a way of conveying more than just a story through just her words, and in this case, it helps to enjoy travel vicariously through this song.
Track 03: The Keep Going Song – The Bengsons
This was a cute song that appeared in a random playlist – it’s a light-hearted song that was written about realising that the pandemic was here to stay, and has the vocalists checking in with the listener to see if they’re okay. Take a listen, it’s always able to bring a smile to my face when I hear it.
Track 04: Icarus – Amanda Tee
This is a song that was years in the making, but I finally sat down, finished and released it in the middle of our lockdown in May 2020. The quietness of the country at the time really paralleled the feels of this song, and I think that’s what helped me finish it as well.
Track 05: Bright Morning Stars – Bonnie Light Horseman
This song is really laid back, but is still able to bring out a feeling of hope and motivation. It’s got simple yet beautiful harmonies and instrumentations – perfect to listen to in the morning.
Track 06: Satisfied Mind – Live at WFMU, East Orange, NJ – Oct 1992 – Jeff Buckley
In the middle of this pandemic, a lot of us had time to think about life in general. People were switching jobs, taking on hobbies they’ve always wanted to pick up, or just making sure they were more aware of their loved ones around them, rather than concentrating on work a full 5 days a week. This song really resonated with that climate: should our life goals really be about money?
Track 07: A Pirate Looks at Forty – Jack Johnson & Friends: Best of Kokua Festival
Featuring my favourite songwriter Dave Matthews, this is just a really cute song that I had on repeat a lot the past year, probably just to enjoy the easy laid back vibe the song has.
Track 08: Ba Li Dao – DJ Didilong (峇里島 – 李英宏)
Bali, Indonesia is my place of pilgrimage – I visit it at least once a year, sometimes even two or three times. This song came on at random one day, and the relaxing vibes felt really fitting to the song and lyrics. The lyrics were painfully relevant too: 峇里島 那夢幻的峇里島 / 多渴望 你的擁抱 – it sings of a yearning to be back in Bali’s embrace again.
Track 09: 八里 – Goose 我鳥
A song that was born in the island of Bali. My good friend Goose 我鳥, Jordon Lee and I started jamming some tunes and it was the beginnings of this song. It’s got an energetic vibe that I miss from years ago, but it’s always a great trip down memory lane listening to this.
Track 10: The Only Absolute – Amanda Tee
Written in the time of COVID-19, The Only Absolute reflects about how the world has changed since decades before, and remembering the simplicity of the past. It’s really a personal note to the year 2020! The instrumentations are the highlight for me in this song, as it embodies everything I love in folk music – the guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and many other instruments.