Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seasons in the Sun

When I write here from time to time about the huge backlog of material I intend to post, and my glacial pace in doing so, it is not mere idle chatter, beloved reader. Allow me to demonstrate in the following three installments, reconstructed from memory:

1. See this picture?

I took it on July 12 of last year with the intention of writing a little piece here about music and climate--how certain sounds and rhythms seem inextricably linked to very hot weather. (For the record, that little outside-temp thermometer doohickey in the car is always a couple of degrees off; it never really got up to 102 in Buffalo last summer, but it sure felt like it.) In particular, I was thinking about how my last two bigtime musical obsessions, the Beach Boys and the music of Brazil, are so closely tied to scorching temps. Samba in particular just makes sense in a tropical climate; it doesn't set so well in the frigid winters of Western New York.

2. Another slightly hyperbolic (and sadly blurry) shot of the dashboard of the car, this time from February 19 of this year:

It hasn't really been a beastly cold winter here, thanks to our new friend Global Warming, but that was a chilly day, all the same. And the photo was to accompany a longish post about this mix CD I put together for friends and coworkers this winter when I missed the boat on a holiday-song sampler. The idea came to me after hearing Matt Pond PA's wonderful Winter Songs project, which combines one or two originals with many covers of songs they associate with colder weather. My disc is called "COLDplay: Songs of Winter," and I originally intended to annotate several of the tracks, but at this late date I'll just print the playlist, which is fairly self-explanatory. OK, I'll throw in a couple of links for the less well-known artists.

01. "Taking Down the Tree," Low, Christmas EP (2:44)
02. "A Hazy Shade Of Winter" (live), Simon & Garfunkel, Live From New York City, 1967 (2:37)
03. "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm," Billie Holiday, The Ultimate Collection (3:58)
04. "Ice In Heaven," Grant McLennan, Horsebreaker Star (4:22)
05. "Snow Day," Matt Pond PA, Winter Songs EP (3:31)
06. "When The Day Is Short," Martha Wainwright, Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole EP (3:15)
07. "Valley Winter Song," Fountains Of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers (3:34)
08. "Mushaboom," Feist, Let It Die (3:46)
09. "Winter Wooskie," Belle & Sebastian, Legal Man EP (2:42)
10. "Rosy and Grey," The Lowest Of The Low, Shakespeare My Butt (5:03)
11. "Like The Weather," 10,000 Maniacs, In My Tribe (3:56)
12. "Buffalo Fight Song," Wide Right, Sleeping On The Couch (2:51)
13. "Baby It's Cold Outside," Tom Jones w/ Cerys Matthews, Reloaded/Greatest Hits (3:39)
14. "While Roving On A Winter's Night," Darol Anger (w/ John Gorka, Dar Williams, David Lindley, Bela Fleck, & Victor Wooten), Heritage (5:32)
15. "Winter Is Blue," Vashti Bunyan, Just Another Diamond Day (1:48)
16. "Frozen" (remix), Madonna (5:11)
17. "Winter Wind,": Fotheringay, Sandy Denny: Who Knows Where The Time Goes? (2:10)
18. "Blackberry Winter," Marlena Shaw, Dangerous (4:45)
19. "Winter in California," Natalia Zukerman, Mortal Child (4:49)
20. "Winter," Bebel Gilberto, Bebel Gilberto (4:19)

Re that last track, naturally I wanted to work in a little Brazilian stuff somehow, and given my earlier point you might imagine it wasn't easy. But Bebel found a way. (I have a hunch she's spent more time in Manhattan than Rio lately.)

The CD was a big hit around the office, if I do say so myself, and I still have a few unsent copies lying around. If you e-mail me and sweet talk me, I just might send you one--too late to be of much consolation now that the sun has indeed come out again, but trust me: by the time I get around to actually mailing it to you, the temps will surely be plummeting again.

3. Last but most certainly not least, here is a third snapshot taken mere minutes ago of the first blossoms in our front yard, as a little hommage to a certain intoxicated Allentown gardener:

April brings three annual listening rituals for me:
•Ron Sexsmith singing "April After All" (or Anne Sofie von Otter's lovely cover of it)
•Patti Smith's "Easter" (mainly the song, which invariably leads to listening to the entire album)
•2 early Luna albums I have on an unmarked cassette (I'm not sure which ones they are, since a friend made the tape in the early 1990s and didn't label it, but I know that as soon as the weather starts to warm up, I dig out the pair of them and drive around with the windows down, happy to be alive)

Other months have other, similar rituals that I have observed for years and years, but I will save those for a future post. One I probably won't write for ages--especially now that I've got this one out of the way, I can turn my attention to an even more epic undertaking I've been plotting for months. Stay tuned!

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