Summer Officially Here
It's Sunday, June 21st: the official start of summer, and the best time of the year for drinkin' as far as I'm concerned. I'm off to Modesto for a dual Father's Day celebration, then back later tonight to get ready for my trip south. I'll be working in the Hollywood store all week with my partner David OG, as we get ready to welcome director Steven Soderbergh into the K&L fold with a series of different events. We'll be hosting a dinner Tuesday night (already sold out, I'm sorry!), and then I'll be sticking around to cover the premier of Magic Mike XXL and all the Singani party action surrounding it. There will be cocktails galore and plenty of pictures. It's shaping up to be a helluva time.
For me, summer is all about nostalgia; those moments that seem unimportant at the time, but later become your memory's definition of happiness. Sitting around, not a care in the world, listening to the stereo or watching MTV with my friends. Music defined those moments for me. When I hear some of these songs today I get teary-eyed thinking back on those times. Whereas today I associate recent experiences with what I was drinking, my younger self did the same with rock and roll. I thought it might be nice to bridge that gap a little bit, so without further ado I present to you my top five songs of summer, but with explanations that could also describe my top five favorite whiskies. You'll understand when you read them:
5. The Late-Life Relevation: "Good Vibrations" - The Beach Boys
It's not like I didn't grow up hearing this song my entire life. I remember Sunkist using it for their television spots back in the early 80s, and my aunt used to listen to the Beach Boys driving my cousins and me around as kids. But you don't really understand how great of a track "Good Vibrations" is until you're much older. You need more experience, more understanding of harmony and layers, and simply more time to appreciate the intricate nature of what you're enjoying. It's like a whisky you know to be good, and that you've always enjoyed, but never truly appreciated until later on down the line. One day it just clicks, and you say, "Holy shit! This is the best thing ever!", even though it's been there right in front of you all along. Good Vibrations is the muscial version of mature Bordeaux for me. I enjoyed them both five years ago, but now I experience them both at this point in my life, and I say, "Jesus, that's just incredible."
4. The Timeless, Award-Winning Classic: "The Boys of Summer" - Don Henley
It's funny because I hate the fucking Eagles (when I first watched the Big Lebowski, I screamed with laughter when the Dude said the same thing), but I love most of Don Henley's solo stuff. We all know what his best song is. It's the Grammy Award-winning, 1985 MTV Music Video of the Year, "Boys of Summer". Everyone loves this song. It's a critical darling. It's as good as everyone says it is, and it still stands up thirty years later. It's the Ardbeg Uigeadail of summer songs. Always great, tons of accolades. Always satisfying.
3. Timeless Cool: "Enjoy the Silence" - Depeche Mode
Some songs are so cool, so ahead of their time, and so timeless that they can epitomize style and class for decades after their release. I remember watching this video just about every single day during the summer of 1990. It never got old, and Anton Corbijn's direction still inspires me today. Dave Gahan's walk through the Scottish Highlands, interspliced with the group stepping into and out of the light, decked out in leather, looking like fashion models, still looks just as badass as it did twenty five years ago. Depeche Mode is still cooler than any group to have emerged over the last two decades. This song destroys anything that's been released since. It's the epitome of awesome, maybe one of the ten best pop songs of all time (and maybe number one on that list!). It's the Berry Bros Rudd No. 3 gin of the music world; a gin that still dominates my bar four years after having first tasted it. Once you get a taste there's no going back.
2. The Nostalgic Wave of Happiness: "Head Over Heels" - Tears For Fears
I have an uncanny recollection of my earliest elementary school days, right smack in the middle of the 1980s new wave MTV cultural revolution. My favorite music video at that time (1985) was "Head Over Heels" by Tears For Fears and I remember singing it with other kids on the playground in first grade. When Donnie Darko came out in 2001 and Richard Kelly used the track for an incredible slow-motion pan through your typical 1980s high school hallway, I was practically balling with nostalgic sadness. It brought back so many memories of being completely happy and carefree; watching Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties, that kind of stuff. Sometimes a great bottle of booze can do that, or even a not-so-great bottle. Last summer I bought a 12-pack of Miller High Life and drank it on the patio with two of my best friends in Modesto, and it might have been the best time I had all year. The memories make everything. This song reminds me of summer happiness, never-ending.
1. The Best Whisky is the One that Tastes Best to You: "Believe" - Dig
I don't believe that quality is subjective. That's always been a total bullshit statement to me: "the best whisky is the one that tastes best to you." Maybe your favorite whisky is the one that tastes best to you, but just because you like something doesn't mean it's good. It just means you like it. And that's the important part: that you know what you like. I know what my all-time favorite summer song is. It's not even a question. It's "Believe" by Dig, a song that dominated my life in 1993, when MTV debuted its "Buzz Bin" and moved the grunge music era into full swing. I have strong memories of blasting this song on my stereo, looking out the window at the steaming Modesto streets, heading out to the pool for a dip, and then blasting it again when I got back to my room. I can't ever listen to this song without being overcome by a wave of emotion; a reminder of how happy I was as a kid during the summer months between school. I don't pretend that "Believe" is "the best" summer song ever because I like it. It's just my personal favorite because it means something important to me; kind of like whatever your favorite whisky is. It doesn't matter how many points it got, or if other people like it. You like it. That's all that matters.