I OWN GROUND HOG DAY
BY MICHAEL FICHMAN I have a sort of musical synesthesia — all the great albums I have enjoyed in the past are locked into my memory as the soundtrack to a particular time and place in my life. These associations transcend rhetorical constructions: Midnight Marauders is endless hours in the back of the family car on an epic roadtrip. Devin the Dude’s Just Tryin’ ta Live is the summer I drove a construction truck up and down the hills of Pittsburgh. Neil Armstrong’s epic Originals mixtapes are 2003’s kabob and box wine barbeques. And goddamn if Monk’s Dream and Ry Cooder’s Into the Purple Valley aren’t 1984 until 1988 (thanks Dad). Most of these synaptic links are dormant, but one play of a song instantly recalls a period of my life in vivid detail.
This past weekend, as the weather broke for the first time after a long long short winter, I caught that smell of snowmelt and felt that bounce in my step that comes with being outside — outfuckingside captures the essence really. Almost all of these musical memories are summer memories (except one November when I was listening to The Band and a cop so rudely interrupted me and my lady friend as we were merely, uh, fixing the car). Long nights of hard drinking and roof sitting are sure to generate memories, and the boom bap of a straight up rap banger or the easy, mellowing waft of a good soul side gives the barbeque the smell of meaning — these are the days of our motherfuckin lives. Summer ’06 may have been forgettable without Hustlin same as The Chronic made ’93 ninety fuckin three.
Winter generates musical memories as surely as summer, but these are the memories we sweep under the rug — the painful ones, the songs that only play when it’s dark and you need it to be light. I’m talking Iron and Wine, Soon Come by Asheru and Blue Black, Tom Waits’ Closing Time and all the other great material that floats constantly in the ether but surely finds its way onto your turntable as soon as your girl leaves you or the 4PM sunset starts to drive you crazy. It ionically bonds to your experience. (Yes I’ve listened to Asheru and Blue Black when I was sad and I’m not ashamed.) But its March, and the optimist in me says that that gloomy shit is behind us. This is the time when Northeasterners shine- we’ve been through the months that make us tough\nand psychologically hard, and now we need to live with twice the intensity of warm weather pussies who get our spring in December, but without the meaning. Soon my friends, the breeze will get warm, new sneakers and them boobies will come out of hibernation (mercy). Windows will come open, filling rowhouse breezeways and car-clogged intersections with song.
With daylight savings and sun-in-the-evening right around the corner, it’s certainly not too early to start thinking about what I’m gonna be thumping out of my Civic as soon as Hurricane Schwartz says it’s OK to do so. I don’t think I can predict with any certainty what The Song will be this summer, but some songs are timeless and enduring- Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s Summertime is the prime example, and Philly heads have brought out Tuff Crew’s My Part of Town every Memorial Day like it was white pants. For me, summer songs are usually rap songs, and the general dearth of good new rap music might be a problem (In this new economy, rap is the one thing China has not yet begun to reliably produce). This year’s ten most anticipated albums don’t look to have bona fide summer jam potential, but then again, I never claimed to have great foresight, just acute hindsight. Whatever it is that provides the soundtrack to the impending warmth, let’s just hope it draws some inspiration from this:
Picks of the Week:
(This week it’s all about ME. Not that I didn’t deserve it, but I promise I won’t do this again)
Philadelphyinz 2, Saturday @ Medusa Lounge, 21st and Chestnut. A can’t miss, if I do say so myself. I know I’ll be there.
Timbaland featuring Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake- Give It To Me (Apt One’s Legion Remix). I’m not really a pop music guy and I usually talk a lot of shit on Timberlake for being a trend whore, but I couldn’t resist taking a stab at this one. Maybe it’s because Scott Storch got so defensive about Timbaland’s verse like a well-honed reflex to possibly being called out. I dunno.
Just Sayin is all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fich is the first ordained rabbi in the musical church of Robot James Brown. He owns a lot of records and people pay him to play them. He writes for Just Sayin?.