SEPTEMBER MIX by Jason Diamond
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I despise the heat, so I hate summer. I look forward to its demise, and I welcome the Fall Equinox with wide-open arms. September 23rd is the official first day of autumn, a day I began looking forward to sometime around the end of June, when the Summer Solstice hit. There is just something perfect about ushering in cooler temperatures that has always left me invigorated. It’s during this time of year that I can lace up a pair of duck boots to go hiking through the woods outside of the city, or sit on a park bench drinking a cup of tea, thinking to myself, “Gee, this sure is nice — drinking a hot beverage several degrees lower than the air outside.” To sum it up: I like winter, spring is usually fantastic, summer sucks, but autumn is my time to shine.
One of my normal Beginning of Autumn routines is looking up John T. McCutcheon’s 1907 Chicago Tribune cartoon, “Injun Summer.” It has been a tradition of mine since around the 3rd grade, back when the schoolteachers in Chicago didn’t care that the cartoon was a tad bit insensitive, an instead saw it as part of our heritage. For decades, it showed up yearly on the front of the newspaper, until it disappeared, according to Roger Ebert, “a victim of political correctness.” I won’t disagree with that assessment, but I also wont deny that the cartoon is a strong remnant from my childhood, and I will pour myself a glass of hot cider and read it on September 23rd. I hope there will be falling leaves, but I’ll read it if I’m still sweating too.
This collection of songs is a batch of autumnal hymns that sound fine regardless of the season (even summer), but are most perfect for walking around and looking at the changing colors of the foliage.
1. Beat Happening — “Indian Summer”
Calvin Johnson isn’t really the greatest singer or lyric writer, but there’s this innocence about everything he does. Anybody else singing about having breakfast in a cemetery would come off sounding like some wannabe Morrissey type, but Calvin has always been able to pull off being twee without being annoying. He’s really one of the great geniuses of our time.
2. Sandy Bull — “Carmina Burana Fantsay”
There are two pieces of classical music that automatically come to my mind when I think of the word “epic”: “Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries,” and Carl Orff’s cantata, “Carmina Burana.” Both Germans, both (possibly) didn’t like Jews, but only one got the masterful guitar treatment of Sandy Bull.
3. Gillian Welch — “Caleb Meyer”
I feel like if you’re going to bother putting together an autumn playlist, and you don’t include a Gillian Welch song, either you suffer from bad taste, or you’re lazy. Gillian literally sounds like sipping hot bourbon apple cider while sitting in front of a pagan bonfire.
4. Balmorhea — “Remembrance”
This is one of those bands that nobody ever talks about, and I’m inclined to ask, “Why the fuck not?” They’re like the southern gothic version of Rachels or something…
5. Andrew Bird — “ Ambivalence Waltz”
I’m not a massive fan of his recent work, but the early stuff is pretty much all good. This song especially gets most people to ask me, “Is this from the Ken Burns Civil War documentary?”
6. Bill Monroe — “Cheyenne”
In keeping with the Indian Summer thing, I figured I’d include this one by the father of bluegrass. I’m a fan of any song that starts off with something that sounds like a war chant.
7. The Pogues — “Dirty Old Town”
I’ll be honest with you, I think I put this on there because I’m tired of people thinking of The Pogues as some one season pony. Like you can only listen to them around St. Patrick’s Day, with the exception being that song with Kristy MacColl that you can listen to during the Christmas.
8. Blind Mamie Forehand — “Honey in the Rock”
I’d been considering a rule that every mix I make from here on out have this song on it. This one is from 1927, and I guess the perfect word for it is “otherworldly.”
9. Damon Albarn & Michael Nyman — “Boyd’s Journey”
Michael Nyman is one of my favorite living composers. This song is from a soundtrack he did with Damon from Blur, and it sounds like it should be in a Terry Gilliam film about the Civil War.
10. Six Organs of Admittance — “Home”
I was actually listening to this album on my headphones when I was hiking in the Catskills a few Septembers ago, and an eagle flew right over my head as I was listening to this song. It was pretty majestic, and I’ve been attempting to have a moment like it ever since. At this point the closest I’ve come is the time my cat jumped over my head and caught a fly in midair.
11. Red House Painters — “Mistress”
Again, music that sounds like the season.
12. Tyrannosaurus Rex — “Beard of Stars”
I go through Marc Bolan phases. I’ve paid attention over the last few years and noticed I like his earlier folk stuff more in the autumn.
13. Felt — “A Preacher in New England”
14. Marissa Nadler — “Famous Blue Raincoat”
Marissa Nadler has been one of my favorite musicians for several years now, and I’m pretty sure she cemented that when I heard this cover she did of Leonard Cohen. I’d highly suggest listening to all of her albums at night when it gets colder out.
15. Elizabeth Cotten — “Shake Sugaree”
Elizabeth Cotton is pretty much the greatest. Her voice and her guitar picking are equally amazing.
16. Mountain Man — “Animal Tracks”
I did an interview with them a few months ago where I mentioned their album, Made the Harbor, has been my summer album for two years straight. What I failed to mention was that it’s also one of my favorite albums for all the other seasons as well.
17. Fleetwood Mac — “Albatross”
Yes, this is the prettiest song ever. No, Stevie Nicks was not involved in this incarnation of the band.
– Jason Diamond is the founder of Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and the editor-in-chief of Jewcy.com. His writing has appeared in various places like Vice, NPR.org, The Rumpus, Thought Catalog, Impose, Miami New Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He’s currently at work on a book. He thinks it’s going to be awesome, and hopes that the book buying public does also.
Need more music? Check out other EL Mixtapes:
August Mix by Melissa Febos
July Mix by The Faster Times
June Mix by Helen Phillips
May Mix by Benjamin Hale
April Mix by Fiona Maazel
March Mix by J. Robert Lennon
February Mix by EL Staff