Thursday, July 02, 2009

Songs for July!

You wouldn't know it from where you're sitting, but I'm not actually blogging this post. I'm sending it via calligraphic message by way of carrier falcon. Said falcon then takes it to WingStop, where it gets 10 Cajuns and 10 Lemon Peppers, then orders a sampler Atomic just to scoff, then leaves again. Why WingStop, you ask? Because the carrier falcon takes his sweet time (and used to hang out with Troy Aikman), that's why.

Then he takes it to a public library in Montgomery. He begins to type it into a Word document--using his beak--only to realize, crap, this is a Mac, and what are these Pages that keep popping up? This isn't what I trained for, he thinks.

Days later, he's finished the Pages document. From there Serbian spies (they're all over Montgomery, and they're Mac savvy) floppy disk the document, transfer it to a blog. But not my blog. Rahm Emanuel transfers it to my blog, because:
1) You don't know his history
2) He owes me a favor
3) Okay, fine, you guessed it, I saved him from a Serbian spy poker debt one time, only twelve years later, we're all good friends, and we joke about it now, over a basket of wings with Troy Aikman.

And what I'm trying to say is this:


Hot, sticky, crazed, fickle, thick in the air and always, always loud. Here are 31 songs--plus the iTunes random pick--for summer's highest holy days.

And don't forget to comment and tell me your Songs for July!

Outkast, "Gasoline Dreams"
Nothing says America like summertime, cookouts, and good ole fashioned apple pie. Leave it to Outkast to turn that old cliche on its head in one of the best album-openers of the last twenty years.

White Stripes, "Icky Thump"

Speaking of raucous, topical album openers...

Sam & Dave, "Hold On, I'm Coming"
You know how it's soul? It sounds sweaty. Most of the Stax catalog is tailor-made for mid-summer.

Raphael Saadiq, "100 Yard Dash"
One part raw, three parts smooth, all tasteful, all convincingly classic.

Band of Horses, "Weed Party"
Wide open and hurried, just like the middle of summer, before the dog-days set in.

Phantom Planet, "Hey Now Girl"
Because I couldn't resist putting this PG-rated gem after the R-rated one.

Peter Gabriel, "Solsbury Hill"
Say hello to Mister Peter Gabriel! And now, say goodbye to Mister Peter Gabriel!

Lucero, "Sixteen"
Drive down the Shelby Farms section of Walnut Grove at 1AM. Roll down the windows. Open the moonroof. Play this song. Loud. Then, tell me where you end up.

Cory Branan, "Tall Green Grass"
In a song full of memorable couplets, my favorite:
"With your lemon-yellow ribbons and your bleach-blond hair
Blending in the sun til you're barely there..."
Sometimes, the scene's so good the girl's secondary.

Lyle Lovett, "I Loved You Yesterday"
There's something about great Texas country (and it doesn't happen often) that's lovely and welcoming, even when it's sad or disturbing. Ladies and gentlemen, enter Lyle Lovett.

Ryan Adams, "Pearls On a String"
Extraordinary good backup vocals, and a rare Adams song that does more by trying less.

The Killers, "Romeo and Juliet" (cover)
One of the savviest covers I've heard in a long time, and a revision that sounds at home in warm weather.

Rolling Stones, "You Can't Always Get What You Want"
July, the high season of weddings, meet "You Can't..." my favorite song about a wedding.
(For the record, Radiohead's "Punch-up at a Wedding" is #2.)

Oasis, "Lyla"
Personal memories with this one. Let's move on.

Hootie & the Blowfish, "Time"
Personal memories with this one I feel comfortable sharing. So it's the mid-90's and Cracked Rearview has sold 90 billion copies and somehow this is surprising because alt-rock's the thing. And at one of many cookouts one summer, I remember hearing all the dad's stand around and bemoan the Youth Music and Its Loud and Whiny Crimes Against Humanity. And at that moment, one middle-aged white guy says, "Now, it's not all bad. We should play some Hootie & the Blowfish. Have y'all heard them? That's some real music."

Hootie: forever the choice of neutered adults at cookouts.

Matthew Sweet, "Sick of Myself"
As long as we're in the mid-90's.

Pearl Jam, "Market in the Sand"
The whole album sounds like summer to me, but this song has always been the standout.

Vampire Weekend, "Mansard Roof"
I might be the only person on the planet who thinks this is what they should be doing: weird, mid-century-inspired, letterman-clad crooners.

Led Zeppelin, "Misty Mountain Hop"
Here's a question: does any one band sound more like mid-summer than Zeppelin?

Wilco, "I Got You (At the End of the Century)"
The song's opening sounds like someone waking up in the mid-afternoon, ready to do it again.

Pawtuckets, "11 Point Ferry"
I can't say it enough: Pawtuckets. Dogsbody Factotum. Dogsbody Factotum. Pawtuckets. Pawtuckets. Pawgstotum Factody. Dogstuckum Pawsbody. If you have ever liked 1) alt-country 2) Son Volt 3) anything at all, you will like this record.

Beach Boys, "Warmth of the Sun"
You knew it was coming.

Dan Auerbach, "When the Night Comes"
My nickel on the solo record, while we're here: I've never understood the point of putting out the same music under a different name. I know what the press releases say, but I'm not hearing a "stark departure." The Dan Auerbach Record sounds, to me, like a not-quite-as-good Black Keys Record. "When the Night Comes" is a striking exception, and it shines for its difference.

My Morning Jacket, "Bermuda Highway"
Dan takes you to sleep, and MMJ give you a haunting/heavenly wakeup-call.

Beatles, "Because"
Drink one more Corona than you typically would. Lie on your back in the sun. Play this song. Tell me where you end up.

Bob Dylan, "Chimes of Freedom"
A July 4th tradition for me.

Paul Simon, "American Tune"
While we're in that mode.

Counting Crows, "Mercury"
A deceptive song about a subtle change. Fitting for a season that's about to shift.

Toadies, "Tyler"

Personal memories attached to this one, plus it sounds like a siren. (Side note: If anyone can find me another pop song as successfully creepy and fearless as this, I'm all ears.)

Dr. Dog, "Hang On"
This is me, late to the Dr. Dog party. This is also me, not sure how long I'm staying.

REM, "Find the River"
Because of my own history, I associate rivers with summertime. This song takes that imagery in a restless direction; the seasons haven't changed yet, but our protagonist has.

BONUS! And now, the iTunes Random Pick for July is....

Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Tuesday's Gone"
Touche, iTunes. Touche.

Until August,


ross k. said...

That's right. Soul DOES sound sweaty. Funny, I just saw a clip of Al Green where he was literally glistening with drops of shiny sweat, like he was unable to towel it off. Otis Redding was another sweat-master. Anyway, you could nominate most of the Sam and Dave catalogue for July and be on target. I especially like "Soothe Me," "Hold On, I'm Coming," "A Place Nobody Can Find," and "Goodnight Baby." People, if you don't know Sam and Dave, record stores are overflowing with unappreciated used copies of their hits. They're the real deal. Do yourself a favor.

Let me also nominate many songs by Van Morrison. I have heard him at sweaty summer parties several times recently, and it's always been on target. The slightly older ladies seem to dig him as well, fyi fellas. Give me "Domino," "Caravan," "Warm Love," and "Hard Nose the Highway."

Turn it up, now...

ross k. said...

I also stumbled on another gem this week. It's an old Eagles song called "Hollywood Waltz." It's the third song on One of These Nights, which is the album with "Lyin' Eyes," "Take It to the Limit," and of course "One of These Nights" on it. This song is not on Youtube. I don't think a lot of people know it, though surprisingly my dad knew it; it's NEVER on the radio. But it is a dynamite song, and sounds like a mid-summer hitting the road, leaving life behind and putting-it-all-to-rest reminiscence.

ross k. said...

Come to think of it, a lot of the Eagles' songs sound like both summer and the end of something. Put on "One of These Nights" and "New Kid in Town" and see if you don't agree.

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