If you’ve been keeping up with the struggle that has been my summer sound, I think you might need to do something better with your time. I mean, I’m glad you’re reading this and all, but there’s this awesome place called outside. Even I venture out there from time to time…to go to the bar.
For those of you who haven’t, I wrote about the struggle that I was having finding an appropriate summer sound. On my radio show a couple of weeks ago, my friend Molly did the playlist and wrote subsequent blog post. She made the reference to this summer being gothic.
It got me thinking about what I had been listening to this summer. In addition to the albums that I spent longer periods of time writing about in the previous post as well as the artists I namechecked, everything that I’ve been really into this summer has been disturbingly sad.
Crazy for You is a great album, but I noticed when I was driving down Dodge the other day (Dodge is a thinking street for me) that it’s a little weird to sing the chorus “I wish he was my boyfriend/ I wish he was my boyfriend/ I’d love him to the very end/ but, instead, he’s just a friend.” Furthermore, I thought about everything else that I’ve been listening to.
Songs like “I See The Want To In Your Eyes” by Conway Twitty, “Karen” by The Go-Betweens, “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams, “The War of the Hearts” by Sade, “Loveless Love” by both The Feelies and The Field Mice, “One More” by Medicine: all just sad, sad songs about lost/unattainable loves . This was the theme of the whole My Favorite album, actually. Well, that and maybe killing James Dean. I got sad from places I didn’t expect like post-punk and indie pop. Even my favorite track from high-speed hero Omar Souleyman’s new album Jazeera Nights was a sad song.
In maybe a strange coincidence, I listened to this album from The Drums during the cold season called “Summertime!” The lead track was “Saddest Summer,” which has as part of the chorus “this is what I thought it would be/ this is the saddest summer ever.” I don’t know how that came to be so true for me, but it did. Not personally, just musically.
In addition to all of the sadness and the downers I got from listening to Psychocandy, I found myself in about the same time period every time when I got a newer album: the 60s and 70s. On top of the late 70s contributions from The Feelies and The Go-Betweens, I have a couple of Sublime Frequencies releases (best world label around right now, no question. If you want to explore the depths of world music, find one of their releases) from Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid and Indonesian girl group Dara Puspita in current rotation. Khorshid’s Guitar El Chark was all from the mid 70s while Dara Puspita’s album was titled the years of its production: 1966-1968. As well, I stumbled across a compilation of Serge Gainsbourg’s work from around that same era entitled “The Psychedelic Years” (in French obviously). If this weren’t enough, there were also all of those Zombies singles as well as the excellent Back from the Grave compilations from Crypt Records, which also date from this magic decade window.
What does the idea of sadness have to do with two of the shadier decades in American history? I don’t really know, but this became my summer sound. Scratch that. This was my summer sound the entire time. I couldn’t avoid the rain, black or acid-tainted. Maybe this actually was the saddest summer ever. I’ll never be able to tell you why because I don’t know; I was really happy.