Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fredonia Summer Playlist by Meghan O'Dea

Memorial day and the summer solstice have come and gone and we are firmly, deeply entrenched in summer. It’s hot and sticky, the Tennessee sun is blazing, and there’s no better way to cool off than leaping into creeks, taking shady morning hikes deep in river gorges flush with rhododendrons, and driving at dusk with the windows down.

Summer is for friends, for flings, for festivals, and for seriously fun fashion. It’s also the time for summer anthems on full blast, whether you’re cruising, porch sitting, laying in bed with someone who’s heat you don’t mind, swimming, or catching a good groove on the farm at Bonnaroo. 

Here’s a short summer playlist, each with an outfit or item from Fredonia:

10,000 Maniacs “Stockton Gala Days”

You can’t get much more summery than this 90s gem, with lines like “that summer fields grew high/ with foxglove stalks and ivy/ wild apple blossoms everywhere/emerald green like none that I’ve seen/apart from dreams that escape me.” It’s impossibly an refreshing landscape that sounds so much like Tennessee’s own riot of green this time of year. 

Also, Natalie Merchant is perfectly on point for the current flower crown revival, singing “we made garland crowns in hiding/pulled stems of flowers from my hair.” She gets how girls do summer.

So when I came home from Fredonia with this lace skirt and deliciously fringe-y top, I immediately had to channel my own Stockton Gala Days, specifically the part where she rocks out about how “we had wildflower fever/we had to lay down where they grow.” Yes m’am! I a’int gonna argue with you there. I flopped down in the flowers and felt like a much, much happier version of Millais’s Ophelia.

Bruce Springseen “Jungleland”

You can’t have summer without Springsteen. It’s one of those natural, immutable laws like gravity or that thing about equal and opposing forces. When in the intro takes off around 1:50 you can’t help but yearn for some mythological version of the Jersey Shore in the 70s and to be wrapped around a bad boy on a motorcycle.

The most summery part, though, comes in on the line “Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge/ Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain/ The Rat pulls into town rolls up his pants/ Together they take a stab at romance/And disappear down Flamingo Lane.” That just sounds like what summer romance should be like. 

It’s everything a good seasonal anthem should be— long, epic, and totally sing-along-able. In fact, I like to sing it along to my cat, who found the whole display utterly deplorable. That’s fine, Greta. I’ve got my super cute Fredonia skirt and swing top on. When The Rat shows up to whisk me away on his sleek machine over the Jersey state line I’ll be ready to hop on and make a break for it.

Gin Blossoms “Lost Horizons”

This song just sounds like summer. Well, every Gin Blossoms song sounds like summer. Nothing make me want to push the pedal to the metal like this track, though. There’s that killer bridge where he dives into the lines “Turn summer trees to bones and ice/ Turn insect songs against the night/ With words we build and words we break/ I’m drunk drunk drunk in the gardens and the graves.” 

There’s something really elemental about this song. Maybe it’s the building blocks of great pop music. Maybe it’s the balance of specificity and generality that makes for good writing. Maybe it’s the subject matter— rich in archetypes. Love, death, hope, despair. It’s just so good. 

It’s one of my very favorites, and so are these Fredonia earrings. There’s something elemental about them, too. It’s got the same kind of natural imagery as my favorites pieces of this song, and they have a patina not unlike the character in the song has, where the wear and appearance of experience is what makes them the most beautiful.

Andrew Bird “Eyeoneye”

If the last three songs are any indication, I haven’t always felt like my generation’s music is, well, mine. It belongs to other people who happen to be my age, but I haven’t always connected with the same tunes at the same time. Andrew Bird was what started to change that for me. 

There was a splendid, magical summer of listening to the Break It Yourself album over and over, amidst a whirlwind of weddings, creek trips, dance parties, long drives, hikes, and stealing away to a dark bedroom with sloping ceilings and a broken mattress on the floor. 

I love this Fredonia fox belt because it reminds me of my friends from that time, with whom I share an ardent love of foxes and forest creatures and wilderness and wildness. We shared epic dinners, sprawling summer salads, long talks, and bottomless decanters of whiskey.

It was a stolen season, and one never to be repeated. But with the right accessories, I can bring a little of that time back into my everyday life, and every summer after.

(go to original)

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