I know winter’s not done. But at the moment, it’s almost forgotten.
It’s not really warm enough to drive to work with the windows down. But doing so reminds me that the days when it will be aren’t that far off.
So the windows stay down — even if the heater in the car has to run at the same time — and I’ll start thinking about nights on the porch, smoke from the grill, a cooler next to my seat.
Oh. The music.
I had one of those moments, the first one of 2008, this morning when I left for work. I’ll have a few more before the weather actually turns enough that I won’t have to keep the heater on.
The warm air rushing through the open windows is a big part of the experience — you can smell spring, even on March 3. As it is with nearly any situation I can imagine, the soundtrack is important as well. I have almost an hour in the car each morning and each evening — undisturbed, uninterrupted, especially if the music is loud enough that I can’t hear the cell phone ringing.
The music can vary widely depending on my mood, but there are a few staples that I seem to come back to, when the moment strikes. Here’s a sample:
“Coconut,” Widespread Panic. I saw Panic play this at IC Light Amphitheater on a sticky July night a couple of years ago. The lyrics aren’t deep, but they evoke all the right things: “Jackie likes the smell of cut grass/He used to play ball on Saturdays/Just playing in the sun.”
“Sugar Magnolia>Scarlet Begonias,” Grateful Dead. A specific version, from Alpine Valley, Wisc., in 1989. “Sugar Mag” is an essential summertime song anyway, but this edition veers quickly off course when the band reaches the first instrumental break and Garcia starts the choppy “Scarlet” intro almost immediately. Unexpected — and a perfect example of what made GD so good.
“The Road to Gila Bend,” Los Lobos. This is a good example of how I always hear music before lyrics — the song is about a Mexican scrambling through the Arizona desert, dodging the border patrol, but what always gets my attention is heavy fuzztone and chugging rhythm.
“Wasting Time (Isla Vista Song),” Animal Liberation Orchestra. Hazy memories of a past life.
“Mexican Radio,” Wall of Voodoo. Pretty specific for me — spring during high school, meeting friends at the park by Griggs reservoir and doing things we shouldn’t have been doing while we were in high school.
“U.S. Blues,” Grateful Dead. Summer shows in sheds all over the eastern United States. The last notes roll out from under the pavilion roof. We stand and cheer for a while, even though we all know they’re not coming back out again.