I can say, with complete honesty, that podcasts have been my lifeline in this and the last lockdowns. When everything gets to be too much – as it so often does these days – I cannot recommend enough popping in your headphones and listening to some fun, sweet, clever people chat away. I listen to podcasts while I’m cooking, getting dressed, doing laundry, but most of all when I’m walking. No one is going to be able to do the socialising they normally would, or the activities they normally would. So, it is so important to hear some new voices; to learn about something; to be interested in a story; to laugh; and most of all to give your mind a break from the swirly-whirly thoughts.
For those who are unsure about podcasts and don’t know where to start, there are so many out there and it can feel overwhelming. I promise that when you find the one for you it will be a joy in your day, which is now more important than ever.
My first recommendation is the first podcast I ever listened to – and for podcast connoisseurs is probably old news: My Dad Wrote a Porno. – There are five seasons of silly, hilarious, ridiculous episodes as three friends make fun of ‘Belinda Blinked’, the erotic novel written by one of their Dads. If you have never listened to a podcast before I really recommend you start here. It is not hard-hitting or heavy, so if you want some light-hearted distractions from life, this podcast is a great place to start.
If you’ve already listened to all of My Dad Wrote a Porno, or want something a little more educational then I really recommend:
You’re Wrong About. I would particularly recommend the mini-series: The O.J Simpson trail. The kind and clever podcast hosts Sarah and Michael consider this famous story from many angles – focusing on all the people involved. If you think you know the story already, or have vaguely heard about it but aren’t really sure, this is such a fascinating and multi-layered approach to telling the most infamous murder trail story of the last century. If you’ve loved The Crown on Netflix (and murder trail stories aren’t for you) they also have a You’re Wrong About mini-series on Princess Diana. It is this mini-series which introduced me to the podcast, and I have been hooked ever since. There are dozens of other episodes to keep you entertained in lockdown, which right the wrongs of women who have been cast as villains in history but are actually human beings with their own lives and their own stories, such as Yoko Ono and Marie Antoinette.
For something cosy and comforting I recommend Table Manners. Singer Jessie Ware and her mother Lenny cook delicious sounding food for celebrity guests such as Kylie Minogue, Munroe Bergdorf, Dua Lipa, Antoni (from Queer Eye!), and Dawn French – to name just a few. It is a foodie, cheering podcast with lovely guests and sweet stories of food memories. Most of all, (especially if you listen to pre-2020 episodes) it is escapism and a chance to switch off.
Even if you don’t love Dolly Parton with all your heart (and if not, why not?), you will after listening to: Dolly Parton’s America. A WNYC Studios podcast series which looks at America through the songs, biography, and politics of Dolly Parton. This is a podcast made by really incredible journalists who get to grips with the positives and negatives of Dolly Parton’s music culture and, by extension, American culture.
An amazing podcast which I couldn’t stop talking about is: Dissect. I especially loved season 6, which dissected Beyonce’s visual album Lemonade frame by frame, line by line. This might sound incredibly boring – trust me it isn’t. Not only will you definitely feel a huge increase in respect and admiration for Beyonce herself, the podcast taught me so much about Black American history and politics. The podcast have also dissected the work of Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar and Lauryn Hill.
There are so many other podcasts – specific episodes and whole series to listen to. I hope these help you get through lockdown as much as they have helped me. Just having voices that you get to know on in the background can bring comfort and consolation, so download a few episodes, go for a long walk, and let your brain have a break.