Smile Politely

Songs of Spring

Although we’re slightly behind for our seasonal songs list, we still feel like Spring is tricking us into thinking Summer is going to begin soon. Not so fast — more showers are approaching this upcoming weekend; Spring is going to stick around for a few weeks. April is over, and though it definitely doesn’t feel like Winter, it isn’t quite Summer. So here’s where we’re at. Songs of Spring have arrived.

“Let’s Go Crazy (remix)” — Prince

I’ve been a Prince fan since I was a little kid, listening to songs I had no business hearing and didn’t fully understand in the first place. Over the years, I’ve lived and died with each new release, each great single or two and an album of filler. I’ve almost lost hope so many times. Then I heard a rumor about a new version of “Let’s Go Crazy,” the opening salvo of the film and album Purple Rain. As always, with news of a new release by Prince, I got immediately excited, then pensive. A new … version? Hmmm. As lame as it might sound for an artist to take one of his best, most enduring songs and remake it, there is something unspeakably cool about what Prince has done with this classic song. In this Black Keys-esque fuzz-blues stomper, the diminutive genius and his new band, 3rd Eye Girl, manage to pay respect to the ’80s classic, while simultaneously breathing new life into it. Spring is all about rebirth, right? And jesus criminey if this song didn’t make my little black heart bleed purple again. (MG)

[[mp3 prince_lets_go_crazy_remix]]

“Love on Top” — Beyonce

Along with rebirth, spring is also known as a time of love in bloom, of optimism and joy. And, as much as I’d love to piss all over those sentiments, I have this damn song stuck in my head, and it makes me happy every time I hear it. In the last Songs of Winter article, I highlighted a favorite song by Jay-Z; this time around, I’m focusing on his better half, the force of nature called Beyonce. Her song “Love on Top” is not the typical gee-whiz new-love fluff; rather, the singer sounds triumphant at the feeling of finally getting the love she deserves with someone who respects her, of asserting herself and not being taken for granted. I’m going to stop short of using the word “empowering,” because I’m a guy and have no philosophical or anatomical right to talk about strong ladies, single or otherwise. Instead, I’ll just say that I dare you to put this song on at home and not dance. And yeah, I’m including a link to the video, because … I mean … it’s Beyonce. (MG)

[[mp3 beyonce_love_on_top]]

“You Were Cool” — The Mountain Goats

One last thing spring is famous for: finishing school. Spring semester, prom, exams, getting the fuck outta Dodge, kids. And even though school has been out for quite some time for those of us writing for (and probably reading) this magazine, we still find ourselves surrounded by high school clique mentality and popularity-contest pressures. I’m right about this, aren’t I? I’m not just projecting? Perhaps I’ve said too much. In any event, I submit for your approval a little ditty by The Mountain Goats, my very favorite purveyors of articulate sad-bastardism. Their song “You Were Cool” perfectly encapsulates that feeling most of us encounter, long after graduation, looking back on how we acted and hanging our heads. Congratulations, seniors! You’ll regret a lot of it! (MG)


“So Long, Lonesome” — Explosions in the Sky

This is one of those songs that can make you want to cry simply from its minimal, unadorned, exquisiteness. Everything about “So Long, Lonesome” represents spring for me. It’s what I can imagine we’d hear if the flowers, grass, and leaves made actual sounds when they bloom from the ground.

I’ve included a fan video here because it illustrates almost exactly what I imagine when I listen to this song. The time of day in which it takes place (dawn, new birth) and the beautiful balloons rising from the ground just like flowers do. (TN)


“She Farted… and Created the World” — Son of Robot

Son of Robot is a band from, I think, Brighton, England, and I stumbled onto them through a friend. I have a lot more of their music than you’ll find on their bandcamp page. A member of the band, Scott Coello, is also an artist and he made the video below (an animated art project made entirely from recycled paper) for one of his classes.

Yes, the song’s title is a bit off-putting, but only until you see this sweet, beautiful, imaginative creation that Scott’s made: an entire universe formed from, well, what dogs (indeed, all of us) do very naturally.

So what does this have to do with spring? Because an entire universe is being born, destroyed, and reborn. And when I’m only listening to the song and not watching the video (which is most of the time), I imagine this is what a tree would sound like if we could only hear it coming back to life each spring. (TN)


“The Rap” — Secret Garden

This lovely instrumental always reminds me of dancing the céilidh in St. Andrews, Scotland. Yes, Secret Garden is an Irish-Norwegian band. But all cultures seem to have some kind of reel dancing, and some of my best memories of living there are dancing outside, during the cold, spring sunsets, in the courtyard of the St. Andrews Castle ruins. (TN)



[[mp3 the_rap]]

“Fields” — Lanterna

It’s always great when you can incorporate a local track or two into these lists each season. This is my opportunity to genuinely add this track because ever since I began listening to Lanterna’s Sands (this track in particular), I find myself getting these incredible riffs stuck in my head. Although simplistic and to the point, I wish I’d been around C-U when this band was playing music and performing live. This whole record reminds me of spring because of how airy it all feels. The breath of fresh air reminds me of everything coming back to life after winter and the sun finally feeling like it’s doing something productive and not just reflecting off of the ice anymore. (PS)

[[mp3 lanterna_fields]]

“Bluish” — Animal Collective

This was an Animal Collective coming out party for the majority of the world that didn’t know who the hell they were. “My Girls” and Merriweather Post Pavilion were, for the most part, the way AnCo was introduced to a plethora of people. “Bluish” essentially symbolizes how colorful Merriweather feels from my perspective, and falls right smack dab in the middle of the entire record. The song feels as if it was crafted effortlessly, and is as lightweight of a melody as it could possibly be. Out of all the more subtle tracks on MPP, “Bluish” is the least flashy, but propels itself seemlessly every single time I hear it. No matter how long it has been, revisiting it still brings its own brand of bliss. (PS)

[[mp3 animal_collective_bluish]]

The National — “90-Mile Water Wall”

The point when the wall of snow stops being snow and starts being a wall of water: that is when we know Spring has finally arrived. That miserable snow melts away. The cold is removed and the luke-warm April and May showers commence. That’s when we can finally begin to realize the season is changing. “90-Mile Water Wall” reminds me of that in the most literal sense, but within a record like Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, that goes over depressing topics endlessly throughout, this track seems like a relief, much like how those spring showers feel after a tough winter. (PS)

[[mp3 the_national_90_mile_waterwall]]

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