Summer is a time for so many good things: school’s out, the weather makes being outside possible all the time (at least north of the equator), terrific fruit is in season, and traffic is light where I live, which is the best part of summer, if you ask me.
Summer also means I am not working, so I have a lot of time to do things I think are fun such as: cleaning my house and organizing things in my living space, cooking for my boys, hosting friends for meals, taking walks most days of the week in my neighborhood, and writing a lot not only for GrokNation, but also for other things which I can’t yet talk about until we announce them… (stay tuned for more news on that in a few weeks…)
I find that all of this summertime downtime makes for great introspection, because I am unfettered by work commitments and such. I have time to think when I clean and when I cook. I have time to think when I walk.
My year of mourning for my father ended a few months ago; with that end came an end to the restrictions I had taken on of not listening to music. And so now, music gets to be a huge part of summer for me, especially when I walk.
I have two regular playlists I wanted to share – the first one is for songs that make me feel exuberant; the second is for songs I listen to when I’m feeling pensive and/or sentimental. Here’s the first list – stay tuned for the second list.
1. “You Changed My Life” – Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan is one of my all time favorite singers. He’s originally a folk singer from Minnesota who transformed the fabric of music with his protest songs, some of them made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary (“Blowing in the Wind “being the most famous of them). This is a later Dylan song, and the lyrics I think might be about a religious experience, but it’s still a really beautiful song if, while listening to it, you think about a person you love who changed your life.
2. “Love” – The Sundays: The Sundays was one of the first ever ‘indie’ bands I fell in love with in high school. They kind of sound like the Cranberries, but they came before the Cranberries. The lyrics implore you to “love yourself like no one else” and it’s a great example of 90s indie rock.
3. “Not A Bad Thing” – Justin Timberlake: I love this song. I’m a very reluctant-to-trust kind of person; meaning, trust is hard for me. This song is exactly what you want someone to say to you if you have a hard time trusting them. Well done, JT.
4. “Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars: I want to meet someone who says these things to me, and I didn’t know that before I heard this song! I always get emotional when I hear this song because the lyrics are just sweet. And I don’t typically go for sweet, I know!
5. “I’ll Be” – by Edwin McCain: This is that “I’ll be your crying shoulder…I’ll be the greatest fan of your life” song. I cry every time I listen to this song but I put it in the exuberant category of songs because it’s inspiring to hear about a love like this.
6. “Hovering Sombrero” – They Might Be Giants: TMBG is one of my Top 5 favorite bands. I know their nerdy voices may not float everyone’s boat, but I chose this song because it’s very catchy and the lyrics really speak to me. They are talking about a sombrero who doesn’t think it’s worth anything, but they reassure the sombrero that “you’re never just a hat; you’re never only just a hat.” Sometimes I need to be reminded how special I am, and how special everyone is. This song does just that.
7. “Story of My Life” – Social Distortion: Social D is one of the standards for people of my generation. They were hard-living, hard-partying, tattooed rock-a-billy musicians before any of that was “in.” This song is a perfect example of their music and the lyrics are just downright kick-butt. Life is not always easy, but sometimes it’s the story of your life anyway.
8. “Is That Love?” – Squeeze: Squeeze is an early 80s trove of wonderful music and lyrics. This is the band that sings “Coffee in Bed” which you may know, and their music is always fun while also being wicked good. It’s hard to find that combination sometimes but Squeeze does it. Their album “The Singles: 45s and Up” is a true necessity for your music collection.
9. “People Got a Lotta Nerve” – Neko Case: Neko Case is also in my Top 5 favorite musicians list. She sang for The New Pornographers but her solo career is unbelievable. She sings like a torch singer but writes like a poet. She is very intelligent, and her music is not for the faint of heart. This song talks about killer whales, caged elephants, and why we are surprised when animals including humans behave exactly as they are supposed to, even when it hurts others.
10. “I Held Her In My Arms” – Violent Femmes: VF was my favorite band in high school and this three-man dynamo produced so much more than “Blister in the Sun” and “Add it Up” which are, no doubt, fantastic songs! This song is off an album called “The Blind Leading the Naked” and it shows the band’s versatility – there are horns in this song – and also the cleverness of lead singer Gordon Gano’s mind with lyrics such as, “I can’t even remember if we were lovers or if I just wanted to.”
That’s it for my “exuberant playlist” – but tune in for my Top 10 pensive/sentimental songs! And in the interim, why not tell us what your favorite “exuberant” songs are?