Coming out of the bar last night, tired and a little drunk after playing three sets with the Exhibit(s) and receiving quite possibly the best phone call ever, it felt nice out in the night air. That’s a rare occurance in August in Birmingham; we’ve been suffering from brutal summers for the past couple of years, and the temperatures coupled with the Amazonian humidity make for positively unpleasant outdoor (and sometimes indoor) experiences. But last night was a great teaser for autumn, my favorite time of year.
A few years back, I began compiling mix CDs of music for autumn. These were all titled Waiting for October, after the album by local musican Chris Bentley (formerly of Tarantella, among others), and they represented a trip into an aural freezer, music for driving at night with your windows down and a fairly heavy jacket on. Last night’s taste of a more pleasant climate has got me thinking about this year’s edition of the mix, and in an overarching sense, maybe a best of, since this will be the tenth version of the CD that I’ve made.
The prerequisites for inclusion on the CD: cinematic, night, cold, and at least slightly haunting. Or maybe haunted is the better term.
This year’s candidates:
Hevein: A New Hope
Any song with cello (played without distortion, I should add, to prevent too many people from suggesting Apocalyptica) is a strong contender from the get go. Even better, though, is the dreamlike quality of the melody, and then the twist at the end, which always brings falling leaves to mind.
Byla: Morning Looming
Perfect for sunset (I know, I said night, but some trips begin just before darkness falls, and those moments deserve a soundtrack as well). There’s always a temptation to put just about any track off of Will Ackerman’s The Opening of Doors on these compilations, but this song sums that feeling up in 1:40, leaving plenty of room for other tracks.
3: Dogs of War
Both of these songs are very driving type numbers, and remind me of that part of fall that never seems to hang around long enough around here, a very crisp moment that feels like the turning point of the universe, that point where you first realize that yeah, summer’s over for real.
Ned Mudd: The Black Dress and the Invisible Man
This is a strange one for me, because it’s mostly a sort of beat poetry over a bass/guitar/drum/trumpet track. It’s loose and cohesive at the same time, the imagery is evocative, and it’s a longtime favorite of mine (if for no other reason than I’m one of a very few people that has a copy, and so I’ve never heard it way too much). Perfect for stargazing.
Paul Gilbert: Marine Layer
It’s a farly straightforward and simple song from the Racer X / Mr. Big guitarist, piano and acoustic guitarist, but it reminds me of high school days for some reason. Not the part where I was a gigantic loner without the cool friends part, though. Just a general feeling.
Blue Oyster Cult: Joan Crawford
Speaking of high school… It was the fall of 1988 when I first heard this song, driving through Hoover in Jason Chatham’s VW. It doesn’t necessarily fit the mood of what I would usually put on these discs, but it’s a great time machine, emotionally.
Porcupine Tree: In Formaldehyde
One of their rare tracks, off of Recordings, and one of their absolute best. This really starts to carry you toward December, cold rain that might become snow if you’re lucky, and then that first kiss outside during the first cold snap that comes at 3:31 in. Perfect.
Sigur Ros: Glosoli
Okay, you could pretty much put anything by Sigur Ros on one of these discs. This year, the honor goes to Glosoli. It’s all CL’s fault on this one.
Dark Suns: Zero
Again, CL’s fault. The piece perfectly sums up autumn for me (including the rain in the background, and the kids on the playground), but it’s the lyrics that put it on this year’s compilation. It’s like a counter-reset for life. Like I said: CL.
Dream Theater: Octavarium
I’ve planned on putting this one on this year’s mix since last December, when I accidentally heard it during a trip to buy my new car, and realized that it should have gone on last year’s disc. Over twenty minutes long, and shifting from one section to the next effortlessly. I’m holding out hope that the version from their upcoming CD Score (performed live at Madison Square Gardens this year with a full orchestra) will be even more appropriate for this series.
Echobrain: Seven Seconds
Plaintive instrumentation and vocals make this a perfect nightcap in the fall.
Feel free to make more suggestions. I’m always looking for new music and things that I haven’t previously been aware of, especially if they make it feel like October a little sooner.
God, October can’t come soon enough. Air conditioning or no…