Tag Archives: nostalgia

#MondayMixtape – Showing the Signs of Spring

deviant art, oo-rein-oo, top 5s, music, rock, jazz, americana, poor old shine, chicago, grace kelly, steve miller band, tallest man on earth, spring, seasons, warm, rain, downpour, optimism, deep thoughts
image by oO-rein-Oo

For New Englanders, the anticipation of warmer temperatures and more agreeable climes around this time of year rivals that of the Christmas season. After a long, cold, hard winter fraught with swirling snow, arctic air, and some of the most woefully wicked, bone-chilling winds seen yet this century, it’s really starting to look like spring is on its way.

You know its coming the way birds and buds are returning to the trees; the way the maple sap has begun to flow in the hills of New Hampshire and Vermont; the way runners have taken to the street in droves after their long winter’s exile to the recesses of their local gym. The great thaw is on and soon local restaurants and watering holes will be putting out their patio furniture, local schools will be planning their end-of-year pool parties and field day gatherings, and back lawns across the state will be filled with the smells of seared and grilled American pride.

It’s a wonderful time of year, though it all happens too fast up here. No sooner do temperatures reach that coveted, agreeable 65 – 72 degree sweet-spot than some sadistic sprite in the boiler room decides to crank it full throttle sending temps into the hot, humid, and heavy upper 80s – 90s and sending us racing to retrieve our AC units from dark, dusty basements across the land. And as we fan ourselves for relief as we wait for artificial electric relief we wearily wonder how on earth it ever could have been as cold as it was just a few months ago.

But for now all is good. All is pleasant. All is just beginning. The gradual warming trend, the longer days and more agreeable nights, the long walks in the great outdoors, evenings spent dining on verandas, and lighter, more liberating feelings all around. So let’s thank our lucky stars and rich, beaming new blades of grass for the return of these blissful moments, and rejoice in the coming of the season with a bouquet of perennial spring-appropriate tracks.

1. Poor Old Shine – Weeds Or Wildflowers

You know that moment when you realize that warmer weather is here to stay? That’s what this song sounds like. It’s the feeling of being reinvigorated and rejuvenated. Everything seems to have been given new life, the gray of winter fades further from your memory, and you start to remember what colors look like. You’re ready to take on the world again. It’s the perfect tune for putting the, ehm, spring back in your step.

2. Chicago – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is

This song is as pleasant and as familiar as a late spring walk in the park and carries an easy-going attitude to match. You can’t help but listen to this track and think, ah to be the narrator of this delightful piece of sonic euphoria… Well, stop imagining it and walk a few miles in his shoes. Try it. One beautiful day in the near future, turn it on, listen good, and then take the afternoon off for a long, leisurely stroll in the park. Thank me (and the band) later.

3. Steve Miller Band – Swingtown

This band seemed to know the secret to crafting relaxed chill and good cheer in 3-minute increments, and this track is a wonderful example of that. It’s the perfect kick off song for long car rides and trips up to the high country with family or friends. You spend the day hiking, biking, and swimming, and then– since “we’ve been working so hard” all day– you retire to an old, unassuming country pub with a dynamite buffet. It’s the perfect reward for many hours of cold winter toil.

4. Grace Kelly – I’ll Remember April

What’s spring without a few good rain showers? The rhythm and tempo alone paint the picture of the first mid-afternoon downpour of the season in the big city. It’s coming down steady and strong as the human parade darts to and fro under umbrellas, raincoats, and makeshift newspaper rain guards hoping to avoid the puddles on cracked sidewalks, the waves of water drummed up by the wheels of passing traffic, and other umbrella-blind pedestrians coming their way. It’s a sea of black, gray, and wet, soggy newsprint, but even with the wet, wild weather, it still feels good and refreshing.

5. The Tallest Man On Earth – Pistol Dreams

And then, gradually, the storm moves on.  The last residual drops make their descent onto the freshly washed streets, and the clouds begin to lighten and part revealing skies of awesome composure and color. Buildings shine anew in the late afternoon sunlight that leaps out from behind the gray, and people slowly shed their heavy waterlogged layers as they head on home, looking forward to a relaxing evening at home and another lovely day tomorrow.

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Monday Mixtape: 5 from 2005

remembering old songs is like remembering old loves

Before we get started, on Friday I was informed that a previous Monday Mixtape post of mine was selected by Blog Better Boston’s monthly themed {hub}LINKS roundup. This month the topic was Winter in Boston, and this post was selected.  Here’s the list of the other Boston Bloggers whose work was selected. Be sure to show them some love!

  • Styled By Jess shows us a recipe to make the most delicious, gooey S’Mores hot chocolate!
  • Country Design Home shares a DIY tutorial on painting snowflakes on vintage blocks.
  • Start planning your next vacation to get rid of those winter blues! Start here with Take Time Away‘s top travel apps.
  • Union Jack Creative looks at a craft cocktail book, and a hand-lettered cocktail recipe.
  • Trends and Tolstoy shares a few tips to keep you stylish during the frigid New England winter.

Now on to your regularly scheduled programming.

2005 was a damn good year for music and a damn gooder year for music discovery. College’ll do that for you, particularly if you’re the type of person who associates with the college radio scene.

The question is whether the music so cherished during one particular moment in life will stand the test of time and endure through the ages. Music tastes evolve and mature (or so I’d like to believe), and the right songs have the ability to evolve and mature with us, while others fade into nostalgia and insignificance.

Let’s see how these former heavy rotation contenders have held up in the intervening years.

1. Hot Hot Heat – Goodnight Goodnight

Then: Energetic, grippy, undeniably catchy tune. The story of the bitter, dejected lover that supplies the fuel to this punchy  2-minute parcel conveys a level of angst I never had the pleasure of experiencing personally. But what does it matter– this thing rocks. Lock and load it, wind it up and let it go.

Now: The beats goes on and the words resonate a little more too, but it does seem to fall short of being a song for the ages. But again, who cares? This song was never meant to be anything more a charged farewell to bad love, written and rendered in driving, anthemic style. Fire it off at will and you’ll still feel that inescapable charge.

2. The Killers – Change Your Mind

Then: An oft overlooked track from the debut album of a band that had a bang-up 2005. Compared to other much loved tracks on the album (Mr. Brightside and Somebody Told Me among them), this one feels more subdued and more sincere even as it totes much of the same pomp and flourish of the rest of the album. It was the one track on the album that seemed to fit any moment of any day.

Now: Without a doubt it’s still a great track and one that, upon revisiting, feels immediately fresh and new. I’m less certain of the subtleties I once thought I saw in it though, and there’s a definite whimsy bordering on silliness to the lyrics that I hadn’t noticed before (“the sun is gone / before it shines”).

Sun or no sun, at the end of the day it’s still a song that carries with it the endearing theme of second chances and putting it all on the line for the ones we love: “If the answer is no, can I change your mind?”  How about it?

3. The Strokes – Is This It

Then: The spark that set on a musical obsession that included bands like The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, The Kaiser Chiefs, and a whole host of other “The” named bands. An understated way to open an album that really rocked and could easily be listened to on repeat without losing its momentum or shine.

Now: It’s still a killer track, and I still love this band even as I refuse to accept that this band ever moved on to bigger, better, more experimental sonic waters. This band will always be stuck in the early aughts to me. I’m not ready to let go yet.

4. Regina Spektor – Raindrops

Then: Simple, lovely, and poetic. Discovering her style of song craft was akin to finding an oasis in a sea of rowdy, rambunctious, and otherwise noisy fodder. She wasn’t above experimenting with strange chord progressions, dark subject matter, or avant garde structures either, which always kept it interesting. This little b-side that could  made it on to no fewer than 10 mixes made for friends that year.

Now: Simple, lovely, and poetic. Somethings never change and that’s all right with me.

5. Guster – Diane

Then: This one always struck me as the perfect soundtrack for the first kiss scene in a romantic comedy. They’d start it off at a fair volume immediately as their lips meet and then back it off slightly, continuing in the background as the two newly stricken lovers trade happy, knowing looks, and sweet, blissful words of good night. The music then swells to a fever pitch to match the euphoria of the male lead as he walks back to his apartment. The song embodied the feeling of deepening jubilant satisfaction and the promise of good things to come.

Now: Much like the tune before it, this one holds up well. It’s lovely and endearing and perfectly wonderful, even as I’ve realized that the lyrics don’t match up as nicely with the scenario I originally had in my head.

“We lie together and we say it’s love / Who were you just thinking of Diane?”

And there it is: the pesky, persistent sound of relationship insecurity. Are they two people who think they’re in love? Is he all alone in these feelings? What could she possibly be thinking about?

Still, it doesn’t really change the tone of the song completely. It just gives it additional depth and complexity. Just like a song, properly aged and vetted, should.

photo by NeverendingStomp