Friday, August 06, 2010

Play What? Play This Playlist: An Ode To The Dog Days of Summer

The dog days of summer are, quite literally, a drag, and they have officially Arrived. If July was the joyful carefree summer of your youth, then August is a half-life of bided time and listless suspension, caught apathetically between enjoying the last few weeks of summer sun and ushering it along to something new and possibly better and ultimately not really giving a damn either way whether time slows down or speeds up, because if the augustine humidity indicates one thing it is that nothing moves, nothing changes, nothing rushes or sweats or jumps or feels anything, really, for about the last three weeks of the month. It's that feeling cued up quite perfectly by Jessica Lea Mayfield's disinterested bargain in "Kiss Me Again," the same one that accompanies the fade towards the end of a relationship: "You got me where you want me, but I ain't all there." And again, later: "You can touch me if you want to, I don't really care."

Yet something is sort of dark and mean about these dog days of summer, because despite their existence as almost a non-entity they can kind of weigh you down. It's the limbo of it, I guess, that has you thinking a little too deeply and a little too vaguely. Josh Ritter says it best: "I know the dog days of the summer / Have you ten to one outnumbered / Seems like everybody up and left and they're not coming back."

You might get nostalgic at the time that's passing, and accept it a la the Avett Brothers ("Tear down the house that I lived in, I'll never be the same again") or take it more as a Do-Not-Go-Gentle-Into-That-Goodnight warning, soundtracked by the ever-having-your-back Japandroids ("Give me that time you were already in bed, said fuck it and got up to drink with me instead.") It begs for both company and escape ("Into the Mystic"). It encourages your willing derision ("You are beautiful, but you don't mean a thing to me.") It demands that you shelve and restrain all questions and concerns regardless of what you want, because you don't know what you want ("Misunderstood").

So you need some consolation ("Queen Jane," the Spokesman's best offer of everything-is-gonna-be-alright) and some resilience (to kindly tell the Shine Blockas to step off, with a growl.) And of course, some surround-sound cocoon comfort, courtesy of Mojave 3's pensive "Love Songs on the Radio," which takes, roughly, the melody of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and threads it through nine hundred layers of dream-fuzz warmth. And lastly, The Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby," which includes all of the above traits and is the best August song ever written.

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igs said...

i LOVE jessica lea mayfield. Fun fact: her brother is a big deal bluegrass musician.

Fiona said...

"Tiny Vessels" is perfect August. one word: APATHY

Mark said...

jessica lea mayfield with justin townes earle at the 930 club in october? sounds like a pretty damn good show to me