Thursday, June 22, 2017

Best Before September 22 

This summer playlist has been inspired mostly by film and television. Everything here appeared in or was inspired by either Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Master of None, High Maintenance or Halt and Catch Fire. There has been plenty written about the Master of None soundtrack and its music supervisor Zach Cowie so I won’t retread that worn tire. Six of these tunes play a part in Master of None (marked MON) so I guess it was really on my mind and in that sense Cowie did most of the work for me. Don’t worry it sticks to the summer themes: love, loss, regret, hook-ups, lust, easy-going day dreaming, youth and so on.

On The Road To Find Out - Cat Stevens
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 featured Stevens’ song Father and Son, but as I was listening to Tea for the Tillerman I heard a wonderful documentary about the importance of introspection in Muslim philosophy and I noticed how several songs from this album struggle with setting out on your own to find answers, wrapped in a folky gospel package. Seeing as we’re at the tail end of Ramadan, and that a lot of summers start with a good road trip, this song was fitting.

I Must Be In a Good Place Now
- Bobby Charles (MON)
When the protagonist was knee deep in being head over heels, we hear this song. For me it got stuck in my head on a short-ish bike ride on a beautiful warm May day with the confetti of apple tree blossoms strewn everywhere like a parade route. Despite a hurting back, wrist fracture and a flat tire, I was in a pretty good place.

Sunflower River Blues
- John Fahey (MON)
Cowie has said he wanted to find something like Ry Cooder’s music from Paris, Texas but this feels more uplifting than that film.

Never Coming Home - Reigning Sound
I’m not sure where I heard this, but it reminds me of when I left home for school in the late summer with only the wind at my back and my future in my face.

Green Arrow - Yo La Tengo
A different Yo La Tengo track, Autumn Sweater was heard somewhere but it led me to this more summery recording.

Computer Love - Kraftwerk (MON)
This song is in an episode of many unsuccessful dates our protagonist endures while looking for a connection all via a mobile dating app. Our hero gives it his all to charm the ladies with varying degrees of success and disregard. I could’ve sworn this song also showed up in Halt and Catch Fire but I guess not…

Say Hello Wave Goodbye - Soft Cell (MON)
I was entirely unaware of this as a Soft Cell song. It is used in a much talked about, long, continuous, wordless scene in the back of a cab as Dev, Master of None’s protagonist, rides home after a night that brought him uncomfortably close to an already engaged female friend. He’s beginning to reel. The aching and tortured vocals which are also oddly flippant capture Dev’s unsure oscillation that will continue to an unexpected conclusion.

I Need Somebody to Love Tonight - Sylvester (MON)
Yup, another one from Master of None. Listening to this song made me wonder what it would be like if Kraftwerk were actually African Americans raised in a tradition of gospel and R&B?

Girl U Want - Devo
This has that kind of focussed obsessive energy that a teen-ager can have for another teen-ager without becoming creepy Facebook stalking (or maybe it is that these days).

Atomic - Blondie
This is the girl mentioned in the previous song. If this song doesn’t appear in Charlize Theron’s upcoming film Atomic Blonde there should be legal action.

I Wanna Be Your Dog - The Stooges
In a of lustful obedient dog kind of way… Um and can I just say, “More tambourine!” Was this album released in 1969? It sounds a decade ahead of its time.

Grass - XTC
XTC’s Skylarking is a certified summer album that defies cliché with its sheer brilliance. I probably add this song to every summer playlist. It’s what lets you know it is a summer playlist. The things we did on grass, indeed. It works on so many levels. “Over and over we flatten the clover” is one of pop music’s sweetest odes to “it”.

Second Hand News - Fleetwood Mac
The marketing for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 has been a primary source of income this year for the old Fleetwood Mac gang. This song wasn’t used in the movie, but it is proof that hook-ups with your ex existed before mobile phones and “sexting”. This song’s plea is to lay a guy down in the tall grass and let him do his stuff - you know, if you’re open to that and if there is some tall grass available on AirBnB. Just honest to goodness fun is all. It should be noted that Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie just announced a new duets album.

Police & Thieves
- The Clash
I have a feeling that this summer will see a lot of protest for some reason? Don’t worry folks, The Clash have got your back. Sad how relevant a song this old can be.

Nineteen Forever - Joe Jackson
Like many people I enjoy Autumn. As a Canadian, I enjoy many aspects of Winter. But Summer… Summer makes me feel young again. Unless it’s melting my face like a Nazi in Indiana Jones.

Welcome to the Working Week - Elvis Costello
It is the sad realization that many of us will spend much of our summer in the glow of our workstations, feeling the cool chemical breezes of office A/C and beneath the shade of acoustic tiling. Get used to it, kids. Get your summer on whenever and where ever you can.

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