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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Summer's Demise: A Mix in the Key of D

We look forward to summer all year long.  Kids long for being a summer camp and adults picture their dream vacation or getaway.  Then, when August rolls into September, what do we have to show for it all?  Campers tell friends that they'll write to them over the year.  Summer romances must decide whether to forgo the effort or swim against the tide.  Vacations and adventures are reduced to rehashed episodic anecdotes that no one really cares about.  So here's a question worth asking.  When summer ends, what do we have to show for it?  I think music best captures our memories and reflections of a time best summed up in images anyway.  

Catching lightning bugs, watching fireworks, running after the ice cream truck, having light to play until nearly 10pm, making s'mores, singing at campfires, camping and hiking excursions are image that come to mind.  Me, I remember lying in my grandfather's hammock in his backyard listening letting of the tzzuezz cicadas lull me to sleep.  Summer is a time of frolic and fun.  And as it ends, so does our youth, in a sense. I always thought to myself that I should go live in the Southern Hemisphere for the half of the year that we experience autumn and winter so I don't have to leave youth.  But, we all know that like everything, it must end.  'Nothing gold can stay', after all!

'Blurred Lines' by Robin Thicke

'When I Get You Alone' by Robin Thicke

Exactly ten years ago, in 2003, Robin Thicke came out with his debut album, A Beautiful World.  I remember the moment when I saw the video for 'When I Get You Alone' on MTV2 (back when there was such a thing that only showed videos).  This was back when MTV was just getting raunchy and bubblegum with the Carson Daily video countdown and shows like Jackass or Next.  I loved what I heard, and immediately got the album when it came out.  It was good.  No, it was great.  I had not heard a white dude with so much soul since, well, ever really.

Robin Thicke, as you may all know is the son of actor, Alan Thicke, best known for his role as the psychiatrist Ward-like dad, Dr. Jason Seaver, on Growing Pains.  Robin Thicke's mother, Gloria Loring is also an actress and a singer.  Robin Thicke is all over the airwaves now.  I think we can officially deem his song the hit of summer 2013.  Ever car stereo and grocery store speaker plays that catchy song.  It's in your head and probably in your Itunes library.

It's not a bad song but I am resentful that ten years ago I called this.  I knew Robin Thicke would be huge.  When his single and debut album came out, I was talking about him but no one else seemed to know who he was.  I didn't hear his stuff at any college parties and except for his hit 'When I Get You Alone', he was virtually unheard of.  This single came in 2002, and its success was a catalyst for the release of his debut album in 2003.  But unlike his first single, the album didn't gain as much notoriety.  I remember the single in the movie for the book, The Rules of Attraction (which, by the way, has a kickass soundtrack.)  Other than that, nothing. 

In fact, I thought, after the album's release, that Robin Thicke faded into the abyss of one-hit wonder fate.  I was upset because I knew he was such a talent.  But fast forward ten years and boom.  He's come out with five other albums, which includes Blurred Lines.  He's had other success, though,  since his first album until now.  His 2007 album, The Evolution of Robin Thicke was number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop chart.  His 2008 album, Something Else sold around 140,000 copies in its first week and was number three on the Billboard 200 Chart.

All I can say is that 'I called it'.  Though his summer hit is slightly annoying, I will say 'I told you so'.  It's like my Green Day story.  When I was in sixth grade, I remember sitting in art class and telling my peers, 'hey guys, have you heard of Green Day?'.  They had not.  But a year later, everyone had.  Dookie  was bought as a tape (when you could still get those) or CD for every birthday party.  So I called that one too.  I just never get any credit.  Sigh!


As summer comes to a close, we often reflect upon our travels and adventures and what they have taught us.  Summer is a metaphor for adolescence and youth.  Perhaps the reason that many people feel so glum and sentimental at the end of summer is that as we enter fall, we metaphorically enter into adulthood.  The end of summer represents 'the fall' in poetry and literature.  At summer's end, we fall from innocence and naivety.  We shed our youth and energy and find our true skin.  We wiggle around in our new skin, though everything seems too roomy and too expansive.

It is not easy to transition from childhood/adolescence into adulthood.  Many people often ask what that one moment was when you remember feeling like an adult.  For me, it was when I took six kids to a punk rock show in Boston at the Avalon.  And I still remember exactly which six kids it was.  When I worked at a boarding school in Massachusetts, I used to take the students on weekend excursions.  My first such adventure was driving a bus with six students to a punk rock show at the Avalon in Boston.  They're all adults now.  And the Avalon has since closed.  And it's been almost ten years since I lived in Boston. So even retelling this story makes me feel old. 

I don't know what possessed me to actually drive the bus into Boston.  I thought, after just attending graduate school there, that I could navigate the streets easily.  No problem.  Only when I lived in Boston, I never actually drove in the city.  I took the T (subway) everywhere and only drove to get groceries or to the school I was student teaching at.  And note that I lived across the Charles River in Medford/Somerville which is different than Boston proper.

So as we are about 15-20 miles outside of Boston, it starts snowing.  And note that this is just before Halloween, late October.  And I don't mean a little snow.  There was snow coming down so hard that I had to crouch over the steering wheel to see out the window.  Windshield wipers were going at full speed.  Once I'm in Boston, or at least around Porter Square right outside of Cambridge, I see a parking lot.  But I don't go into the parking lot with the bus.  I think that I can find the destination, which is right near Fenway and BU in Kenmore. 

I asked for directions multiple times.  It's still snowing.  The kids are getting antsy and we're already an hour late for the show.  Plus the kids are getting hungry.  Then I see a grocery store.  Next, a T station parking lot.  WONDERLAND.  Blue line.  Okay, so I can go to the grocery store, make sure everyone gets something to eat.  We can drive to the T station parking lot, sit in the car and eat, then go to the show.  Wonderland is in Revere, and it's only slightly sketchy.  With six kids in tow, I should have parked the bus back at the Porter Square T station lot with the huge Stop n' Shop but too little too late.

So the kids and I eat dinner.  We leave the bus and take the T to Kenmore.  We're late for the show but it's really only just getting started.  Then, I look around and see kids with nose rings, full sleeve tattoos, and neon mohawks.  I felt like the oldest person in the place.  I only think to myself, 'wow, if it was only five years ago, I would have been these kids.'  But, I'm an adult in a cashmere sweater holding all the kids' coats standing next to a dad holding his kids' coats.  The dad and I look at each other and give one another a nod.  That was my initiation into adulthood.  Not only maneuvering children that weren't my own in an Adventures in Babysitting moment (minus the gang fight and garage thugs).

So as summer ends, so does our youth.  We enter the fall months and school starts.  Another year has begun and your once cute toddler is now learning multiplication or geography.  Young ladies and sirs go off to colleges and universities.  August marks a time when almost every car on the highway is from a different state and packed sky high with dorm gear.  It's an exciting time, the end of summer.  But it leaves room for doubt and hesitance.  All of us are unsure of our next steps.  Like me, many people probably feel a mixture of pangs at leaving memories of beach days and road trips behind.  What's left of your amazing vacation in India or France are your photos, both in your mind and on your camera.  We enter the fall as stronger, well seasoned veterans of adventure and challenge.  Whatever trials and tribulations happened during the summer are now notches on your belt of experience.

So with that being said, I present to you a playlist for the end of summer.  25 songs that will serenade and soothe your transition.  Summer isn't quite over yet.  But, before we know it, Halloween candy will be in your neighborhood store and leaves will begin changing colors and then fall to the ground.

1) 'For All my Friends in Spring, For All my Friends in Fall'- The Loom

2) 'April Come She Will'- Trapper's Cabin (A) note: Tracy Grammer has another great version-original by Simon and Garfunkel (B)



3) 'Next Summer'- Choir of Young Believers  

4) 'Summer Rain'- Anna Ternheim

5) 'Indian Summer'- The Doors

6) 'Nobody'- J.K. and Co.

7)  'Wild Horses'- The Sundays (A)- original by The Rolling Stones (B)



8) 'Change of Time'- Josh Ritter

9) 'Landslide'- Smashing Pumpkins (A) original by Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac (B)


10) 'Dust in the Wind'- Daughter Darling (A)- original by Kansas (B)


Below is someone's home movie from 1977 set to 'Dust in the Wind' by Kansas.  I liked it way better than the actual Kansas video (which is super cheesy).  Sorry, KansasGreat song, lame video!

11) 'You Were Never There'- Diego Garcia

12) 'Call To Be'- Dana Buoy

13) 'Dull to Pause'- Junior Boys

14) 'Radio'- Lana Del Rey

15) 'Indian Summer'- Luna-original by Beat Happening (I personally prefer the Luna version)

 16) 'Push and Pull'- Nikki Costa                                    

 17) 'All the Tired Horses'-  Bob Dylan (The Narrator also has a great version)

18) 'The Secret Life of Letters'- Scissor Sisters                                           

 19) 'Nothing'- Young Man

 20) 'Have you Forgotten'- Red House Painters

21) 'Sweet Memory'- The Tindersticks                                    

22) 'Clocks'- Coldplay

23) 'Winds of Change'- Alexa Whipple (A)- original by The Scorpions (B)                                  A

 24) 'Who Wants to Live Forever'- Queen (Breaking Benjamin has a pretty decent version too though it doesn't trump the original)

25) 'Last Summer Days'- Archer Prewitt


I did not put the songs in any particular order as I usually do.  I leave it up to the reader.  You can download them in Itunes or make your own playlist CD mix built from mine.  It's up to you.  So go unpack your dorm room or set up your classroom.  Whatever it is you're getting ready for, now you have some tunes to ease you into that next transition.

Happy end of summer!



1 comment:

M said...

I'd forgotten that R. Thicke was the artist that sang When I Get You Alone. I loved that song at the time - thought it was great. Blurred Lines... not so sure about. It's brilliant beat-wise but the lyrics are dodgy.

Funny you mention Landslide - particularly that version. I was just having a conversation with a work colleague about how amazing it is. One of my favourites..

This one always reminds me of summer