*** I am participating in a mix CD tree, and am going to post my track list here so I can post the link to Facebook — there is a character limit to what I can put on the ‘wall’ there. Anyway … I might be persuaded to make extra copies as well …. ***
Since winter has been long and hard, and isn’t showing any signs of stopping, at least her in Chicago, IL, I decided to make a mix that lets me dream of summer.
“Not One More Note Of Winter”
Summer’s Cauldron — XTC — Skylarking
Crickets. I feel like I don’t need to say anything else. Grass, nectar, water and XTC. Let’s talk summer, shall we?
Sun Is Coming — Matt Wilson — Burnt, White and Blue
Here’s a guy who knows something about long, dark, bitterly cold winters. Minneapolis even kicks Chicago’s ass when it comes to winter beatdowns. Add to a cold winter an ascerbic wit, and you’ve got an an expert in chilly. When Matt Wilson sings about sun coming, I want to believe him.
California — Rogue Wave — Asleep At Heaven’s Gate
“Screw California ….” Funny, since these guys are from Oakland. There’s something about them that’s so hard to pin down. All I know is that it’s very easy for me to lose myself in their music, and I often find myself having snippets of lyrics and hooks stuck in my head for days. Plus there are several tracks from “Asleep At Heaven’s Gate” (from which this track is from) that pay tribute to my new hometown of Chicago.
Starlit Summer Sky (Demo) — Marshall Crenshaw
The first thoughts that came to mind in describing this song were “70s FM.” Upon doing a little research (read: putting this song’s name into Google), I see it’s from 1979. And … everything’s making sense.
Einstein On The Beach (For An Eggman) — Counting Crows — DCG Rarities 1
Okay. I don’t know. A lot of people effing hate Adam Duritz. This is one of those things I’ve just stopped apologizing for. Sort of. Cause I’m sort of apologizing for it right now. But whatever. I like Adam Duritz/Counting Crows. I like Billy Joel. I like James Taylor. Again, get your lawsuits ready. I have no idea what the hell he’s talking about with this eggman reference, unless it’s some “I Am The Walrus” scenario, but as much as I love him, he probably ought to leave the Beatles stuff alone, hey? I just dig the song. It makes me want to dance around the house. The little piano deal at the end sounds like Bruce Hornsby was sitting in as a session musician.
Looking At The Sun — Matthew Sweet — Girlfriend
This isn’t necessarily one of my most favorite songs off of Girlfriend, but it is thematic. However, what is wonderful about this album is this … firstly, as is usually the case with some of my most favorite albums/songs, it takes me back to a very specific time and place in my life. This is college, working at the radio station, meeting some of the people who were to become my lifelong friends and who were to teach me about the music that was to become the staple of my musical diet. The foundation had already been laid by my father, in the oldies and by my own diet of popular top 40 music, but my friends were to introduce me to the rest of the world of music I had not yet encountered. Girlfriend came out and proved to be a rarity in the music world — an album that was great from start to finish. That had single after single and was consistent and coherent throughout. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t one of my “favorites.” Every song on here is a gem.
You’re So Damn Hot — OK Go — OK Go
They became known for their quirky and intricate videos, but this is pretty straightforward. It’s a catchy pop song with a killer hook. It’s fun to listen to and it’s the kind of song I like to cruise around in a car to, sun shining, windows down, volume up, and voice loud. I might feel good, but you’re so damn hot. Oh, and hand claps. I’m a SUCKER.
California — Rufus Wainwright — Poses
Oh, Rufus. How can someone not fall head over heels for this guy? Gay or straight, single or taken, this guy makes me so swoonsville. I was given the gift of Wainwright by an ex-boyfriend. Inadvertently, “Poses” was sort of ‘our song’ in a way. But it opened the door to all things Rufus. I can’t tell you how happy this song makes me. It makes me so happy I just might stay in bed.
You’re An Ocean — Fastball — The Harsh Light Of Day
Who needs “The Way”* when you can have “You’re An Ocean?” An infinitely catchier song with a much better hook, this song makes me want to swim and dance at the same time. *See the one-hit-wonder-dilemma of Semisonic/Del Amitri/Fountains of Wayne ….
Sunshine (Come On Lady) — Josh Rouse — 1972
I was introduced to Josh Rouse via this song via Steve Frisbie and Liam Davis doing acoustic gigs here and there around the city. This was a song they’d throw into their set. When I inquired whose it was, Liam told me that I’d probably really dig this whole album. Man, did he have my number. I got the album, and had the thing on repeat for what seemed like a couple of months. And a new Josh Rouse fan was born.
Summer Days — Bob Dylan — Love & Theft
Dylan’s going back to the days of rock and roll. Get your toe tappin’ shoes ready, and your partner ready for twirling. This one cooks.
Safe And Warm — Superdrag — Last Call For Vitriol
This song reminds me of an indie pop take on a song you’d hear in a good old country bar — Fountains of Wayne have given this sort of thing a go before. Definitely a good slow dance song.
Sunny Skies — James Taylor — Sweet Baby James
It’s no secret I’m a James Taylor fan. He’s someone I can’t get enough of, frankly. I put this song directly before the next, because I feel they’re relatives in some way.
When I Get To California — Linus Of Hollywood — Your Favorite Record
Take the “sunny skies” from JT’s album, throw in some Jellyfish, a ton of gorgeous harmonies, and wonderfully unique voice.
Walk On The Ocean — Toad The Wet Sprocket — Fear
Fear is another album from the early ’90s that hardly has a bad moment for me. Producing single after single, it’s one of my go-to albums. This song captures the great melancholy of the end of a summer … remembering how great things were as they fade before your eyes and fall slowly creeps in without your permission. Who doesn’t love a mandolin?
Island In The Sun — Weezer — Weezer (Green Album)
I don’t know if there’s anything Weezer’s done that I don’t like. Truthfully, this isn’t one of my most favorite songs by them, but again, it was thematic. It’s the kind of song I want around when I’m lying on a beach towel reading a book.
California — Lucero — Nobody’s Darlings
Wow. Lucero. What is there to say about these guys? The first time I saw them live, I was in a very small venue called the Beat Kitchen. It’s essentially a room with a stage. I had been exposed to them via a few of their more melancholy songs on some mix discs. Well, I had *no* idea what I was in store for. Guys pogo-ing, tallboys (full) being thrown at the band, people walking on stage to sing songs with the band, and a lead singer with a voice that just won’t quit. Oh, and did I mention that the band took all of the above COMPLETELY in stride without blinking an eye? Part punk, part country, and part flat out rock and roll, Lucero is not to be missed when they come to your town.
Shine — Frisbie — The Subversive Sounds of Love
In certain pop circles, this album got a lot of praise, a lot of backlash, a lot of criticism, a lot of talk in general. There was never any secret that I fell for this album, and this band, very hard. Years (!?) later, I still love the band (they had a second official album, New Debut, come out in the last year or two) and I still love this song. Written by Liam Davis, it never fails to put a smile on my face.
Swimming Suit — Tahiti 80 — Puzzle
From France. Super floaty and definitely reminiscent of a song you’d want to have on in the background during a romantic summer swim.
Summertime — The Sundays — Static & Silence
This song kind of makes me want to go out on a summer’s night in a long skirt and spin around.
California — Semisonic — Feeling Strangely Fine
The other Wilson brother from the other lesser known Wilson clan, Dan Wilson’s band, Semisonic has gotten caught in the tragic sort-of-one-hit-wonder category of some of my favorite bands (Semisonic = “Closing Time; Del Amitri = “Roll To Me”; Fountains of Wayne = “Stacy’s Mom”) that ends up with a bunch of people who know them for a song that is pretty great, but not even close to how great the rest of the album or even the rest of their. whole. catalog. is. A melancholy song about a beautiful state, California always leaves me yearning — for what, I’m not sure.
Nightswimming — R.E.M. — Automatic For The People
Although I think of this song coming later in their career, I think it will remain as one of their finest pieces. The constant, flowing piano centerpiece is so simple and perfectly accentuates Stipe’s clear, doleful voice. Rounding things out is a great string section. Oh, did I mention the amazing lyrics?