Watching most of you down in the Lower 48, I can’t help but to chuckle (or chortle, because that sounds like a funnier word). Once again the weather has flipped on it’s head. While y’all struggle through another bout of cold and snow in the middle of what bored news reporters are calling “The Worst Winter In History of the Month”; the temperatures in Anchorage have climbed to the mid to high 40s. Yesterday we set a record high, and that trend could continue.
So, as I pulled out my spring jacket, I thought maybe it’s time to pull out my spring music too. Songs that make me feel like it is spring. So it’s time to share some of those.
Fresh Grass of Spring: Uncle John’s Band by the Greatful Dead
No, I wasn’t some pot junky or stoner back then. But when I was freshman in college I fell into a Dead Greatest Hits CD for dirt cheap. During that spring, I would relax after a class by plugging in that CD and try to beat a video game my roommate had before the album was over. As the days got warmer, we started opening the windows and the relaxed sounds of this music seemed to mix with the first smell of grass (not the first time you connect Greatful Dead and ‘smell of grass’).
Warming of the Heart: Black Balloon by Goo Goo Dolls
Spring is the time of year that … well, how do I say this and keep things clean … the heart takes more control than the mind we should say. It seemed so often that I seemed to start chasing after a woman or two once the warm air wafted through. Typically for me, there was some connection to a song specific to whomever I seemed to chase. When that time came when Spring turned to Summer, things didn’t work out, and I carried on like I did before – the song remained. Black Balloon was just an example of one complicated Spring (No I won’t tell you who she was, hell I don’t even know what happened to her, so quit asking), but it is just one of many.
Hope Springs Eternal: Waiting for My Real Life to Begin by Colin Hay
Spring is always about hope. It’s when we enact change. We clean the house, we buy new clothes, we ready for all the good things to come. Just as much, it’s that time we come out from the dark cloud of winter and put all those things that dragged us down behind. During some of my own tough times, from when I came out of my own winter, Colin Hay showed up. The ex-lead man for Men at Work (see also: “I come from a land down under”), he put together a more acoustical album about 10 years ago including this gem. It’s not just about hope, but it’s about surrounding yourself with people who can carry you there.
The Springtime Masterpiece: First Circle by Pat Metheny
This is a nine-minute song, which is worth noting because I could talk about this song for three times as long. It is one of my favorite songs of any kind, simply because it is masterpiece of both technically aesthetic complexity and unstopping emotion. It begins unassuming enough with minimalist clapping and single tones suggesting no melody to come, but that is forgotten quickly because it becomes apparent quickly that if feels like it is off a beat. It’s written in the insane 22/8 meter (that’s a 123 123 123 12 123 123 123 12, until it switches on you), it keeps you comfortable just long enough to grab you by the nose and pull you forward every couple of bars. By the time you realized that this is a song with more than it seems, the melody starts showing up, or what seems like a melody. Once it has your attention, it cools off and calms for a nice guitar solo. It’s soft and careful, but it remains the foundation for something like the foothills of a great mountain range. Just when you realize the slope is heading up, it gets back on the road again pumping the gas and pulling you forward. It reaches this crescendo of emotion, building from different lines and different sounds — then it smacks you back to that original melody like a long lost friend. It’s at that point he takes you by the hand and just goes for it all, running you back up to the heights where you feel as free and energetic as a song can take you – and that’s when the clapping reprises to finish you off.
I first started getting into this song through drum corp, which always was alive in spring with new music coming out of camps. But it was my time as a DJ in college when I got my first few deep listen. I would wander around campus or heading back to my room running the tape of it over and over again. What always amazed me was that no matter my mood, this song could lift it up, and no matter what was on my mind this song grabbed my full attention. It excited me like no song could — and that is what spring is all about.
Happy Almost Spring Everyone!!