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Third Annual “Songs of Summer”

We will not be talking about drought in this post. (That word will not appear again.)

Enough of aridity and deprivation for the moment, yes? Plenty of time—it’s not even July yet!—to wring our hands and plan the choreography of our rain dances for the fall. Instead, we’re going to be all about the best of summer. And the best of summer, and every other season, actually, has to involve music.

So let’s move right into this Third Annual Songs of Summer offering, shall we? Though before you scan the trio of songs below and ask, “Whoa, how could you leave out thus & such???…” I invite you to revisit the first two volumes of this annual series here and here. And if you still don’t see a fave song or a better rendition of one already mentioned, drop it into the Comments section below and I may just get to it next year, the gods willing and the planet still spinning.

That’s what happened with our first selecti...

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Second Annual “Songs of Summer”

One of the benefits of persisting with a blog for more than a year is you get to start riffing on “Second Annual” versions of this or that post. And being as how we have arrived at the summer solstice once again (when we need remind ourselves to rejoice in the light rather than lamenting, “Oh dear, now the days start to get shorter!”), I’ll keep the verbiage brief here and offer up another round of songs reflecting this most languid of seasons.

Poet Mary Oliver’s conclusion to her classic The Summer Day is put forth year-round as a stock-taking question, meant to challenge the passions that are perhaps dormant inside us: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/with your one wild and precious life?”

Worth pondering, but one part of the answer is easy, because this summer day and every day should include, if we know what is good and healthy and spiritually uplifting for us, an emphatic, “Definitely lis...

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Songs of Summer

Too much fun, too many fine memories & associations, too much heart-gladdening goodness & grooviness not to share this trio of songs on this glorious NorCal morning. You no doubt have your own favorite songs of the season, your own lovingly tended images of tops down, sand in every nook and cranny of your skin, barefootin’ and bare whatever-else. Savor them, indulge, slow the hell down for just a minute or two or quite a few more—it’s a good day for it.

Happy solstice, dear readers–now get going on that epic amblin’ & shamblin’ along that restores and reminds us how thoroughly life is worth livin’.

 

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Brilliant Songs #9: James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here” 

Sometimes a particular piece of music hits you as so insightful, so acutely reflecting the issues of your time, that the songwriter seems to be channeling some urgent message the gods require in order to restore a measure of balance and perspective to the insanity that abides, on the events of your historical moment that leave you shaking your head and wondering, “How can this be happening?”

And then, in a kind of doubling down on the songwriter’s vision, the message of his or her song in a subsequent era, rather than fading into irrelevance, instead achieves even more urgency, as the forces that helped shape the original message grow only more dominant and oppressive over time.

And then, as if anticipating the far more divisive and nativist rhetoric that would sprout from the seeds planted in the Bush era, McMurtry scores with this bull’s-eye painted with eerie prescience right on the back of the ...

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Five Songs of September

When I was probably 12 years old, I took some of my paper route money and, improbable as it sounds about an era when rock & roll was ascendant and all youths thought that “adult” music was  just as impossibly square as they do today, bought the album, “The Shadow of Your Smile” by the pop crooner Andy Williams. Part of my rationale was that my mom was a huge fan of his, and I knew she would enjoy the music on the family’s newly purchased console with “stereo hi-fi.” (Is that perhaps the great-grandfather of “wi-fi?”)

Another part was that I had settled in to watch Williams’s variety show with my mom on a regular basis, and found myself drawn to the man’s voice, his elegant phrasing, and the lush melodic beauty of the title song and a number of others on the album.

Besides, the guy had a gorgeous French wife whose name played deliciously on my tongue—Cllllaaawww-deeeeen Lon-jjhayy...

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