By Rachel Courtney
Months! How relentlessly they march, one after another, throughout the year! Oh months! So monthy! So monthly! Here we have a bunch of songs about months, 14 to be exact (in the A-list).
In March, April, May, and June
July, August, September, soon
He might replace the old with the moon
It could be October
November, or even December
So in January and February, remember
What better way to kick off the playlist than with a song that names every single month! Wire’s A Mutual Friend also revolves (no pun intended) around the moon, which of course has its own calendar and monthly cycle.
Hank Snow starts off the year with a sad and lonely January. It can only get better from here, right? Right??
February here in Philly is a grey and depressing month but Mulatu Astatke’s Ethiopian Yekatit (February) sounds like a hell of a good time!
Continuing on the jazzy theme, Japan’s Pizzicato Five usher in the changing of the seasons with a springy song about the various qualities of people Nata di Marzo (born in March). From what little I can make of the Japanese lyrics, those people are fairly wild!
April is my month of birth and of course every year growing up I planned an outside birthday party and every year … it rained. I hate it when stereotypes are right! Anyway a song about rain seemed appropriate so here we have Little April Shower sung by an uncredited choir in the 1942 Disney film Bambi.
May starts off with a pagan celebration of spring as well as an international celebration of labor and the working class. Roy Wood’s Acid Gallery focuses on the former with Dance Round the Maypole.
June! Hot Summer! Runes! I don’t usually know what The Fall’s Mark E. Smith is talking about but I know I always like it. Hot Runes appears to be about (European) football. Shrug.
Los Brincos evoke the lazy calm of the blazing hot Spanish summer as the backdrop for a romance in Sol en Julio.
I sort of think Brian Eno and friend might not be outside of his own head on an August night in St. Elmo’s Fire. The song evokes electricity in its title, lyrics and even in the liner notes (Robert Fripp’s guitar solo is credited as “WImshurst guitar” in reference to the notes leaping back and forth like electrical current in a Wimshurst high-voltage generator).
The garden grieves
The cool rains sink into the flowers
The summer shudders
And silently meets her end.
It doesn’t get much more autumnal than Richard Strauss and Herman Hesse’s September from Strauss’s Four Last Songs cycle, sung with aching beauty by Jessye Norman.
Jobim’s tropicalia classic “Aguas de Marco” has already made an appearance in the Song Bar universe but happily there is still Milton Nascimento to tell us of the death and hopeful rebirth of love in Outubro.
Vashti Bunyan sounds very sad in Rosehip November but really, that’s just what she sounds like. She has a serious case of resting sad voice. This is just a really quite contented little pastoral slice of the last somewhat warm days of Fall.
We sadly lost idiosyncratic genius Scott Walker this week but regardless, When Joanna Loved Me wraps up this very melancholy year on the perfect note with a story of lost love, leading us back into Hank Snow’s sad January.
Finally, Johnny Mathis takes us off into infinity with The Twelfth of Never!
Thanks to all the commenters for a very fun week of listening to music! I had a terribly hard time narrowing down my choices even though a lot of it was not really in my usual area of interest/specialty. Especial shout-out to people who came up with months other than the Gregorian calendar – we had nods in the nominations to the French Republican and Positivist calendars and some straight-up fictional months but these playlists are way too long as it is!
The Worst Year A-List Playlist:
Wire - A Mutual Friend
Hank Snow - January
Mulatu Astatke - Yekatit
Pizzicato Five - Nata di Marzo
Bambi OST - Little April Shower
Acid Gallery - Dance Round the Maypole
The Fall - Hot Runes
Los Brincos - Sol en Julio
Brian Eno - St. Elmo’s Fire
Jessye Norman - September (Richard Strauss)
Milton Nascimento - Outubro
Vashti Bunyan - Rosehip November
Scott Walker - When Joanna Loved Me
Johnny Mathis - The Twelfth of Never
Somewhat Better Year B-List Playlist:
Pilot - January
Estalares - Febrero
Ruth Etting - March Winds and April Showers
Jesus and Mary Chain - April Skies
Bob and Ron Copper - The Month of May
Fats Waller - By the Light of the Silvery Moon
Nina Simone - The July Tree
Love - August
Dinah Washington - September in the Rain
Chris and Cosey - October (Love Song)
Sandy Denny - Late November
Bear Babes - 沒有12月的城市 ( (No City in December)
Guru’s Wildcard Pick:
The Cryan’ Shames – July
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Time for this: songs about months of the year. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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