Wednesday, June 25, 2008

For Every Season

I realize I have yet to write much about what I think of a particular disc—hmmm, could it be that I am a bit nervous about not being cutting edge enough for this crowd? Well yeah, but here it goes anyway (kinda).

I didn’t actually ever have any Old 97’s in the collection until I picked up their recent effort Blame It On Gravity—although I had different cuts from my days of getting CMJ every month (CMJ, where I just learned that Boy George has been denied a visa for his US tour because he allegedly "chained up" some Norwegian dude who came to his place for a “photo shoot.” But I so digress.)

I don’t know why I never did more than dip my toe in with the 97's, because this disc is just a bunch of fun—which means I am looking for suggestions of where to go in their discography next. The music is definitely has great rock beats with that country twang hanging around and plenty of tracks have their own particular sound--cha-cha, tango, swing, etc.

The lyrics are, on one hand, light-hearted with nice hooks, but on the other hand they aren’t superficial. The Rolling Stone review captures this mix of upbeat songs with serious/dark lyrics best with this from lead singer Rhett Miller:
"Strum it on a Telecaster/Sing it like a train-disaster song," sings Miller. It's a perfect mission statement from four Texans raised on the Beatles and Johnny Cash in equal measures, whose shiny melodies, and fatalistic character studies, do their forefathers proud.
Favorite first lyrics are from track two “Dance With Me”
He takes your hand, tenderly
He whispers sweet surrender
Nothing is how he feels
About girls like you with your flip-flop smiles and
Your big blue eyes on vacation

Dance with me into the ocean
Roll with me into the sea
Don’t tell me the world is in trouble
Do you want to dance with me?
This tune exemplifies to me why the album is a great pick up for the summer—a sort of escapism that acknowledges larger issues out there, but let’s ignore it all for a while and get lost in this music—yeah, I get that the song isn’t quite about that, but I am talking about the experience of listening to this disc (or at least mine).

This brings up another issue for me which is the idea of music being seasonal. I am wondering if others think about music that way. I definitely listen to certain music at different times of the year. I think this album resonates more with me for having picked it up as summer started. Not really sure I can articulate why that is, but I know it is true.

I tend to listen to more rowdy stuff in Spring and Summer and tend to be more jazz and classical oriented as we move through Fall and into the Winter. I suspect for me it has to do with my strong orientation to the academic calendar, but even that doesn’t hold perfectly. Of course, there are exceptions to that (and obviously mood has a lot to do with that), but it is a phenomenon I am acutely aware of in my listening habits and I am curious if any others have a pattern of music listening that you see as tied to time of year, weather, etc.?


wobblie said...

I'm definitely feeling you on the seasonal music moods. When summer rolls around, I inevitably dust off the bootlegs and end up listening to more than my share of Jerry Band 70s-era Grateful Dead. Perhaps because the warm weather and sunshine trips the "it's time to go on tour" circuit of my internal chronometer, but those tunes just scream "summer time!" to me.

CPS said...

That makes sense--in fact, more sense than my habits. Why is the English Beat a summer band to me--after all I listened to them just as much in college as during the summer? And why think of jazz as fall/winter music when so many jazz fests are in the summer? No wonder my wife rolls her eyes at me when I try to explain why I am cooking a particular meal with particular music because it is October!

Lisa B. said...

Sounds like with you, it's "serious" music in the serious seasons (aka, when school is on), not what particular experiences you associate with the music?

If I have such tendencies, I'm not aware of them, except I do tend to go on nostalgic jags in the summer--because summer has a nostalgic quotient. But then, I'm kind of a nostalgic a lot of the time, when I really think about it. Every season is a nostalgic season.

CPS said...

Sounds like summer is a constant here--although when I really think about it, it is Fall that I find the most compelling music season for me--back to school, my fav time of year, best cooking season with all of the garden on, renewal in a weird sort of a way as opposed to Spring. Perhaps it is not the seriousness, but where the most energy is after the "rest" of summer (although that is fading these days).

Then again, I can tell already if I try to keep this thing going, I am going to have to "think" about music a bunch more--which is a good thing . . . I think.

Payton said...

as per your request for Old 97's album suggestions - Satellite Rides is easily my favorite. Catchy hooks, interesting guitar work, and not a bad song in the bunch. If the rest of their albums sounded more like this one, i'd be a bigger fan.
Blame it on Gravity comes in at a close second, tho.

Thanks for the link, i like what you're doing here...

CPS said...


thanks for the recs. I have been checking out your site ever since I ran into it when looking around thinking about starting this site. I can't begin to imagine how you keep up with all you do, but I appreciate it!