“My eyes grew heavy and my lips they could not speak” (‘Summer Wine’)… a mix for an intoxicating midsummer. The low has finally left and we are reeling, unspooling, languishing in the late summer heat. It’s easy to believe that the sun is dying, that this is the last of our heat. This tragic, beautiful, heady midsummer, as soon as it’s here it’s leaving.
The song that embodies this liminal season begins this mix: Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood’s ‘Summer Wine’, with Nancy as a nymph of summer. We have so few hot months in Britain. When the summer comes it’s time to lie back in fields of mown grass, “counting the hours in the day” (‘Where I Like to Stand’). If we can stand on cliff edges and wave to boats bobbing on salty waves even better.
Folk music with its lilts and lazy tilts is classic summer fare. On this mix we progress through the delightful Vashti Bunyan and Marianne Faithfull to a face off between Moulettes and their precursors Pentangle. What can these women tell us about summer? For Juliana Hatfield it’s a time for introspection. She reaches inside herself and tries to “put this moment under glass”.
We wait all year for it to arrive, a pinnacle of summer and life full of vitality. Crops are reaching their peak. We feel as though we can go on forever, if only we could make this moment last. Karin Dreijer Andersson’s Fever Ray borrows another Vashti Bunyan song ‘Here Before’ that, with Moulettes‘ ‘Circle Song’, explores the cycle of seasons, death and rebirth to arrive back here, at the summit of the summer.
Summer’s a time to run with your friends as well. In remembrances of summer holidays from school, bunk off work with your mates and go feral for a few days. For some of us that might be diving into rivers to swim, for others drinking cocktails on rooftops, but for all of us we know what Wild Flag are talking about in ‘Something Came Over Me’, “summer’s creeping up slowly/ we’re gona let those good times toll”.
And then isn’t there something else to our midsummer highs? As the knowledge at the back of our minds, summer is leaving us, creeps slowly to the fore: we become nostalgic. Dolly Parton’s ‘My Tennessee Mountain Home’ is a complete evocation of summer back at her home, so much so that we think maybe it could our home too. Buffy Sainte-Marie plays her part, with the gorgeous, touching, ‘Summer Boy’, “give me your hand before autumn starts” she sings.
Summer’s here and then it’s gone. Like a perfect moment of being in love, summer will leave us. First Aid Kit’s ‘Tangerine’ closes out the mix with the foreboding of the coming autumn: the narrator knows that her love is leaving.
1. Summer Wine: Nancy Sinatra
2. Where I Like to Stand: Vashti Bunyan
3. Bottles and Flowers: Juliana Hatfield
4. Circle Song: Moulettes
5. Light Flight: Pentangle
6. Here Before (live): Fever Ray
7. Something Came Over Me: Wild Flag
8. Summer Nights: Marianne Faithfull
9. Summer Boy: Buffy Sainte-Marie
10. My Tennessee Mountain Home: Dolly Parton
11. Tangerine: First Aid Kit