You will never convince me that music is not seasonal. Absolutely, it can be independently associative, and what bands and songs make you feel summer may not be the same ones for me. But the association between music and season is still there, of that I am convinced.
Personally, there is something about The Steve Miller Band that causes me to instantly feel the summer. As I sit down to think hard on why this is, I realize that it is probably because The Steve Miller Band was the first CD I ever owned, and I got it as an eighth grade graduation gift along with my first CD player. I can acutely remember being a fourteen-year-old and feeling as if I was no longer a kid, but one of those young adults who knew what it meant to have an independent summer that wasn’t about riding bicycles in the neighborhood, playing hide and seek, or having sleep outs in the backyard.
A new CD ghetto-blaster along with reaching into sixties music, a là Almost Famous, was a summer more about discovery, attending so-called parties (hanging out in friends basements and talking about who was cool at the high school we were about to attend and all the hipster status we were going to accomplish) and I guess mainly it was about girls. The soundtrack to my life during those June through August months is what now initiates summertime music for me: Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama, The Eagles Hotel California, Led Zeppelin’s IV, and Stone Temple Pilots’ Core.
I think we all react similarly to different music at different times of the year. During the winter months, when Christmas is in the air and the weather is a little more crisp, our souls seem to crave an inner-chillax ambiance—jazz that can be played by a Christmas fire, soft acoustic like Iron and Wine that goes along with cooking comfort food and staying in all night, or the female voices of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald that warms our insides after battling the stormy outside.
In the summer, it is almost the opposite, we all feel like rocking hard in aggressive celebration. Iconic images like the mudslide at Woodstock or mosh pit of late-nineties Lollapalooza reminds us that summer is the season of the outdoor festival, the place where you lose all your inhibitions, try drugs for the first time, spend dusk until dawn drinking, and power through the following day in a hazy heated mess, depriving the body of rest. For this we want to hear the up and coming bands, the on-the-edge or breaking into the scene talent that you are the first to tell all of your friends about and who, sadly, will probably only ever be associated with that summer again.
Kid Rock really nailed what I am trying to get at with his 2008 hit “All Summer Long.” Perhaps it is because we are from the same area of the world (he is from Michigan, and I am from just across the lakes in Ontario) and that we arealso approximately the same age, but “All Summer Long” is spot-on with its repeated “Singin’ ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ all summer long.” It is not to say that this song is brilliant in musical score, after all, he did plagiarize both Lynyrd Skynyrd and Warren Zevon to make the song (even worse, here is a little anecdote fore you: he totally ripped off something The String Cheese Incident had been doing live for years prior to this release—marrying these two tracks.Check out “Werewolves of London/I’m Your Captain” live).
Kid Rock’s association between music and summer is something that we can all relate to. Maybe it is for the obvious. To quote Jack Nicholson in The Departed in that scene when he is sitting in the car with his protégé Matt Damon: “School’s out.”