Some Songs Depend on the Weather

The wisteria is in bloom, silvery purple clusters of flowers clinging to each other and to thick ropey vines. There are tiny purple flowers that look like miniature pansies in the neighbors’ yard. The cherries and the redbuds are full of delicate flowers. Everything is covered in the fine yellow dust of pollen.

Everything smells so good and the weather has been stunning, mid to high seventies, so that when you’re outside, it’s like you’re on some drug that makes you lethargic and happy and blessed.

Yesterday, we had the windows open and each of us fell asleep in the living room–sister, brother, dog, cat, and cat–all bellies up and arms over heads.

It was the kind of day that makes you think of Donovan, the sunshine Superman.

It also got me thinking of two terrible songs–“Ray of Light” by Madonna and “Steve McQueen” by Sheryl Crow. Both of these songs are just no good. They make no sense and seem to exist solely so that some bored ad exec will stick them in a commercial for computers or Viagra.

Except for days like this, when the sun is out and the breeze is cool, and the dog is leaning her head out the car window and shutting her eyes to the sun. Days when the trees and the first flowers of spring all seem like some slow-motion fireworks display and the smell is so heady and rich that you want to both nap and take some fine fellow to bed with you.

On days like this, both of those songs also blossom into their full glory. I don’t know what it is. I like neither song when the weather’s bad, but on sunny, glorious days, there are no two better, more fitting songs. The nonsense lyrics don’t bother you. The hesitant little pause before Crow says “shit” seems darling instead of cloying. Madonna’s inability to articulate, thus making it impossible to tell if she’s saying “she’s got herself a universe” or “she’s goddess of a universe” at the end of “Ray of Light” seems profound instead of annoying.

I don’t know why this is, that the weather should improve those two songs, but it does and I’m glad for it.

6 thoughts on “Some Songs Depend on the Weather

  1. I just want to say that I really like “Ray of Light” – it just makes me want to move. It might not be a great song or anything. But I can’t feel down when it is playing. and, I connect it to some very fond memories of a very great gay club where everyone dances to Madonna, thus giving us all a profound sense of sweaty, fun-loving community.

  2. Aunt B — I’ve got to go with The Professor here. Ray of Light is a great song. Not meaningful from a lyrical point of view but a fun song that makes you want to dance. That said, I own a couple of Sheryl Crow CDs and her greatest hits album and I don’t even mind her remake of the First Cut is the Deepest (even though it’s sanitized and safe for mass consumption — kind of like Lenny’s remake of American Woman but not as bad) but I really hate that damn Steve McQueen song.

    Oddly, while I will leave Sheryl Crow on when she comes on the radio, every so often I will really listen to the songs and inevitably it makes me hate her. Irrational? Perhaps.

    Will you treat us to another musical entry about remade songs — ala American Woman?

  3. Well, we can all go out to the gay clubs and dance to it and all enjoy it, but only when the weather’s nice, because that’s the only time I love it.

  4. I think of “American Woman” like this–Lenny sings like the American Woman is across the room, headed towards him. The lead singer of the Guess Who, Burton Cummings, sings it like he’s got his hands on either side of your shoulders, his mouth right by your ear, and your legs wrapped around his back.

    I guess you can tell which one I prefer.

    But that would be fun post. I’ll have to think about it some, but I’ll whoop it up.

  5. Hey, Aunt B,

    I’ve barely had any time to read blogs since becoming unemployed eight days ago. It’s always something. Today (and for the next day or three) I’m on jury duty.

    So, I’m saying I’m late, and I’m saying the weather is crappy in St. Louis, and I’m saying “Ray of Light” is a magnificent record. Hey, the words may be crap, but you know, the words to “Surfin’ Bird” aren’t all that hot, either. Or, as I like to ask whenever anybody tries to tell me they hate a record because the words are too silly, “What, you mean there are words to that song?”

    I got your package the other day, and I’ll read it whenever I actually have a couple hours. It looks very cool.

  6. All right! Fine, y’all win. “Ray of Light” can go on the Tiny Cat Pants Soundtrack. We can play it at the Tiny Cat Pants Dance Party. I take it back. It’s not just a fine song when the weather’s nice. It’s a fine song all the time; I’m just a crappy Madonna fan when the weather’s bad.

    Egad. Has there ever been such universal agreement about anything here?

    Steve, I’m glad to see you back around and sorry to hear about your job situation.

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