It seems so simple, because so little is expected, with so much confusion.
Wedged between the winter solstice and the “new year,” the Christmas point of the year is a very standard of identity crisis. During the preparation, the days are still getting shorter, and in fall, it’s a period of reflection, of contentedness with who one is, and who those around them may be.
Then, I can almost feel the change creep in, after the solstice, when the magnetic powers of the solar system thrust us once again into intrinsic unrest. We are not defined, at all, finally, but by that which we conquer, that with which we do battle, that onto which we paint with the canvas of our visages.
There’s music that I think is good for summer and fall, periods during which days are getting shorter, and there’s other music I sojourn with for the other days.
Ideal for winter/spring:
“Soundtrack to Mary”, “Soft Serve”, “Lazy Bones”, all from sophomore album Irresistible Bliss.
It’s a white dude gettin’ down, gettin’ funky, but all of the guitar tones are nectarous, bulbous daisies poking themselves up from that old lady’s lawn and scourging us all into otherwise unwarranted action with their sweet, sweet scent. Melody meets harmony inimitably — this is the music for getting out of school or work in an unseasonably warm snow thaw.
“Second Hand News”, “The Chain”, “I Don’t Wanna Know”, all from the classic Rumours.
Spring can be a time of anxiety — finals, inevitable change, more outdoors activities, more showing of who you are, so it doesn’t hurt to hear a lead singer supremely nihilistic, Stevie Nicks pled: “When times go bad / When times go rough / Won’t you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff?” This is the nadir of vision quests, and I’m surprised my parents ever let me listen to Rumours. Regardless, it’s incredibly liberating, a sort of cleansing of any untoward cultural or cinematic concept with which you might have gotten bombarded by our veritable entertainment juggernaut.
Key Tracks: “Jeffery Goes to Leicester Square”, “Look into the Sun”, “Nothing is Easy, all from the ’69 bulwark Stand up.
It’s like the great comedian Bill Hicks said, which Tool used as a sound byte late on Aenima: “If you’re against drug use, do me a favor: take all your albums, all your tapes, all your CD’s, and burn ‘em, ‘cause all those artists who made all that music that enriched your lives so much… RRRReal high on drugs.” And indeed, Ian Anderson is coastin’ on his own wavelength on the blissed-out, inimitably self-satisfied “Look into the Sun” — silly Anderson, we can’t ALL still make summer when it’s August. He ascribes to us too much self-esteem — we’re a panicked people, we’re shopping-crazed, materialistic, the world is not unfolding before us like a vast expanse, and if and when we see someone for whom this is the reality, it pi**es us off. So snipe at summer from May and June with this one, that’s my advice.
Ideal for summer/fall:
“Poppies”, “A Cloak of Elvenkind”, “Gone Crazy”, all from the righteous self-titled debut.
Through the trippiest vocals you ever heard, vocals straight out a basement that sounds designed by either Cheech and Chong or Wayne and Garth, or both, we get John Wozniak’s beautiful slacker denouement: “And I know I I I / could not say why why why / On this summer eveniiiiin’… / Oh whoa-ooh-whoa oh oh…” Writing this song is all Wozniak COULD do, and he’s forever attached to the titular “marcy playground,” the little open area of swings and slides over which he’d look in despair, because we was banished from recess, given detention for the whole year, by the daunting Marcy administration. He still is that boy on this record, meeting the stultifying stillness of reality’s identity.
“Rudderless” from It’s a Shame about Ray, “Into Your Arms” from Come on Feel the Lemonheads, “Hospital” from Car Button Cloth.
By the time October rolls around, we all know who we are. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering the curricular stuff that happened in October and November — it’s like both months are a blur, because, like Better than Ezra said “If there’s a feelin’ that there’s somethin’ else / Seems like it’s always understood this time of year” — it’s when mother nature paints her finest portraits — on the leaves, on the brilliant, dark hues of the sky, or in football stands, the opposites of color forever warring just like the poles of the earth. So The Lemonheads had no choice but to always, always, choose the perfect chord progressions.
“Had to Hear”, “Talking Backwards”, “April’s Song” (2014‘s Atlas)
Murder rates are down all over, it’s now safe to walk through Central Park, gas prices are declining, and even before the black president, a white president got a black poetess to recite at the inauguration. Human beings can solve problems, it’s been proven, but there’s always the simple, contented loneliness of one’s identity, and this is the phenomenon that true rock and roll continues to address. The effort is more serene, sincere and focused than relevant predecessors like The Vaselines and The Stone Roses, but the hooks are still undeniable, and the music itself plays as a sonic kin to the subject matter of the first song, calling someone up after a long time away, and reentering that dangerous world of love or friendship, wherein we know we’ll never be the same, but also eventually getting to the point where we can reflect on it.