Even on the warmest days northern lakes can be chilly. Lake Superior is never warm enough for a long swim. Huron and Michigan have about two weeks in early August where they are comfortable. Tooling around the elite vacation areas we came up with an entire plan for the redistribution of summer cottages. Sure, it may involve the forceful removal of the current occupants but the proletariat cannot shirk the less pleasant needs of its dictatorship and this proletariat needs a summer place on the Manistee.
Rain or no rain a great time was had despite the black flies and 80-foot-long recreational vehicles clogging the main roads. You just have to leave the pavement for the dirt roads. Inspired by this weekend’s trip up north here are seven songs of summer I was tagged to do.
“Thee Olde Trip to Jerusalem” from the Mekons album Out of Our Heads. The Mekons have almost too many summer songs it is nearly impossible to pick one. But with lyrics like “The Queen of Holland went to meet Red Ken/With the Ranters and the Quakers and the Fabians/William Blake, William Morris, Tony Benn/The Levellers and the Diggers and the Muggletonians” you can’t go wrong. I love it when every Mekon steps up to the mike for the choruses in this cut. When you are ready to get out of town, put this song on and go.
“Ease Down the Road” from Will Oldham’s album of the same name. There is a bootleg out there of a show at the Iron Horse in Massachusetts with the definitive version. There is not a better summer road song. Deceptively pleasant.
“One More Cup of Coffee” from Dylan’s Desire proves that Bob can be one sexy motherfucker. This song is so exuberantly sensual it makes you want to pull the closest live body to you for a summer make out session on the beach.
“Kidsmoke” from Wilco’s live set Kicking Television. When the road gets blurry after too many hours and the third helping of whatever you’ve been smoking this song keeps the pace. From electronica to a deep guitar stomp on the same frequency “Kidsmoke” brushes away the summer haze.
“Better Git Hit in Your Soul” Charles Mingus serves up one of the most infectuous heads in music on the this killer live take from the Antibes album. When the late summer smell of sweet grass and the drone of bugs in the field are all around put this on at full volume and take a big deep breath of life.
The entire Unitiled Byrds album with the killer Clarence White on guitar. This line-up of the Byrds is my favorite. White is the best dead-too-young guitar player the era produced (Jimi qualifies on a sad list all of his own). The first part is live and the second studio. It begins with a ferocious live “Lover on the Bayou” and ends with the magnificent anti-war “Welcome (Well Come) Back Home”. The Byrds are capable of almost any sound in the rock-folk-country canon and prove it on this disc. It deserves to be played in its entirety. Perfect for a Southeast Ohio drive through the hills (coming this weekend for me) or any place where sounds are mixed.
“To Live is to Fly” from Townes Van Zandt’s High, Low and In Between. Townes is a geat songwriter and this is a great song. Mournful and hopeful at the same time. Summer is full of life, nature is bursting at the seems. We humans have made the experience damn near miserable for all involved. It ought not to be. Here’s what Townes has to say on it.
Days up and down they come
Like rain on a conga drum
Forget most, remember some
But don’t turn none away
Everything is not enough,
And nothing is too much to bear
Where you’ve been is good and gone
All you keep is the getting there
Well, to live’s to fly, both low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
In the States summer road trips are a tradition as old as roads. And one more for the road: “Albuquerque” from Neil Young’s masterpiece Tonight’s the Night. Is there a song with wearier vocals than this? This is what you listen to when you are not going but when you are leaving somewhere.
I’ll have some photos up soon. Apologies for the technical difficulties (they remain unsolved as of yet). If you’ve read this and have’t posted your seven songs consider yourself tagged. Enjoy your summer comrades!