The sounds of spring

The sounds of spring

Surely I'm not the only one who chooses music by the season.I swear I'm not crazy.

But that's the reaction I get when I ask other people if they ever choose their music by the season.

For Christmas music, maybe, they'll say. But not for a certain season in general. I believe one of my colleagues actually scoffed at the idea. (I won't name any names, Greg Kline.)

I just don't understand. Just about everything on my iPod is chosen according to the season. And I refuse to think of it as strange.

For example, I recently had the pleasure of taking off all those slow, introspective winter-y songs and putting on music that complements the sunshine, the warming earth, even the mud oozing into every tiny little tread in your sneakers each time you venture out your front door.

My spring music is bubbly, bright and generally upbeat. Some is literally based on spring, like Josh Ritter's "Snow is Gone":

"Hello blackbird, hello starling,
winter's over, be my darling?
A long time coming, but now the snow is gone."

With the exception of just about any song I can find with the word "sun" in the title, most of my spring playlist isn't quite so literal. But it's still springy.

(By the way, forgive my post-college, still-kind-of-weird taste in music.)

For example, Dressy Bessy's "Who'd Stop the Rain" makes me want to pull on pink polka-dotted rain boots (if only I had some) and go stomping in mud puddles. The Second Band's "Wild is the Wind" is perfect for an outside run in air that's still a smidge too cold to make breathing comfortable.

Even without being outside, these songs will get your toes tapping and your head bobbing in that I'm-coming-alive-again sort of way. Isn't that what spring is all about?

I don't just do this for spring. Oh no. Summer's even better, again with lots and lots of songs with their namesake in the title. "Summer Starts" by local-ish Bottle of Justus is a staple starting May 31 each year, and it has been since I was a sophomore in high school. But listening to it any earlier just wouldn't be right:

"Summer starts today,
summer tries to wake up
and everything to shake up
nothing's in the way
summer starts today
summer left us waiting 'til you come
not far away"

OK, so it's not of any lyrical brilliance. But it is tradition. It means the days are still getting longer, the pool is filling and the possibilities are limitless.

My other favorite summer-titled songs: Wilco's "Summer Teeth" and Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City." (I also seem to remember Kline scoffing at Lovin' Spoonful during a different conversation last summer. I then found the band on my iPod, which immediately disproved him.) It just doesn't get any more summery than this.

I also find myself gravitating toward country music stations during the summer. I think this is because none of my college friends could tolerate the stuff, but I was always around country-loving friends (and one sister) during the summer months.

It became habit, especially while driving with my windows down, smelling pollinating corn and overheated oil-and-chip roads.

Really, I think that's a big part of this seasonal music pattern for me. I usually end up listening to a certain band or album around the time I first obtained it. And if it fits the feel of a certain season, it makes sense that I'll go back to it again year after year.

When fall sets in, I inevitably start with the slower, acoustic, more introspective music. Much of Josh Ritter's slow, sweet love songs are perfect for my fall playlist. I also associate The Little Willies' title album (that's Norah Jones' jazz band) with autumn, again because that's when I started listening to it. It's a little slower and definitely more mellow.

Winter usually finishes the year with some quiet, relaxing tunes that just make you think of a cold, clear night where you can see every star in the sky, it seems like, or watch snowflakes plummeting their way down.

Maybe a little too close to comfort for us March survivors, but of course I have to give you a few examples. "The Finish Line," by Snow Patrol (is the name a coincidence?) and just about anything from the "Garden State" soundtrack make it onto my iPod every time.

Those were the songs I gleefully removed so I'd have the chance to put in my earbuds and dance around my living room to Prince's "Kiss."

I swear I'm not crazy.

Does anyone else out there use the seasons as a listening inspiration?

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