I sit here writing during the last week of my final summer break. As real adulthood creeps up on me, I’ll reminisce by looking back at the songs that backed my summer. Sometimes music is simply a good way to set the mood. Alternatively, the specific sounds in songs tether to a memory that one can revisit any time the song plays. The following songs do that for me, and I hope will bring me back to this summer anytime I need to go back.
“You’re the First, the Last, My Everything” and “Nobody”
This summer I learned to dance. I didn’t take lessons, but learned how fun and therapeutic dancing can be. It began at the end of Spring when a friend told me I’m a good dancer. I was flattered, until she followed the compliment with “I think everyone is a good dancer.” I don’t agree with her, but I understand what she means. Not everyone is a good dancer, but in the privacy of your home or around a good group of friends, there’s no such thing as bad dancing. Dancing takes the edge off, is a form of expression, communication and is great exercise.
My go-to dance song is and always will be Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.” The titan of R&B flawlessly blends his signature soulful style with upbeat disco rhythm and strings. The product is a near perfect dance song. For something a bit moodier and dramatic, I turn to Mitski’s “Nobody”. Mitski’s smooth lyrical style offers a tranquil mood, but is upended by the heavy beat drop, giving your dance a bit of a narrative arc.
“Oh! Darling” – The Beatles
Within the last few years, I finally conceded that The Beatles are great. At one time I thought I was cool for saying they are overrated, but now I see I was just a hater and didn’t know what I was talking about. I made it my mission this summer to become familiar with their entire discography. After listening to their twelve studio albums, one tune I always return to is “Oh! Darling,” off of Abbey Road. There’s something special about Paul’s extemporized falsettos and screams. He has one of the greatest voices in rock and roll and this is clear when listening to “Oh! Darling.”
“Oblivion” – Grimes
There’s not much to say here. I didn’t expect listen to a lot of Grimes this summer, and now I’m scared “Oblivion” will be at the top of my Spotify Wrapped.
“Summer Girl” – HAIM
Alana Haim’s debut performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza put me onto HAIM. I enjoy their music even more than I enjoyed that movie, which is saying a lot. “Summer Girl” played as I drifted to sleep many nights throughout the summer, with its soothing sax and peaceful vocals. I highly recommend checking out the rest of Women In Music Pt. III.
“We Major” – Kanye West
My summer playlist could not be complete without at least one track from Kanye West’s Late Registration. Although it was difficult to pick just one, “We Major” effectively captures the feeling of summer and has become something of an anthem for me. This seven-minute beast of a track is gearing me up to get back to school. It offers plenty of lyrical variety with features from Nas and Really Doe. The production is nostalgic yet motivating. It possesses the sound of transition and change, togetherness and celebration.
While I’ll never have another three month summer recess, I’ll try and use these songs to take me back to that feeling. Luckily for me, nostalgia gets better with age.