The Seasonal Mix Series is an inquiry in song about where we stand as the weather changes and the calendar pages leaf by.
Screw being jolly, we’re embracing the cold ache of time and history that creeps into one’s bones with winter’s arrival. The solstice doesn’t officially arrive until December 21st this year but with all the storms – figurative and literal – raging around the world and in our own lives it seemed right to share this leeching tonic a few weeks early, a small reminder that it’s okay to be sad, to have regrets, to wonder what could have been done different but make sure to hold onto the sure knowledge that eventually the sun will shine again no matter how rain presently falls.
In the winter of 2001, shocked and bummed out beyond belief by the 9/11 attacks and subsequent actions by my country and recently laid off for the first time in my life, I found myself adrift, a man on unknown tides tangled up in blue. Nothing made much sense and kindness and compassion seemed in terrifically short supply. Broke and bewildered, I wondered what tiny good I might do for others, what little thing I could mold with my hands that might raise a smile or prod a little contemplation from an increasingly numb populace. Thus was born the Seasonal Mix Series, an inquiry in song about where we stand as the weather changes and the calendar pages leaf by.
The goal has never been to lard these mixes with specific references to sun, snow, etc. but rather to snag the vibe of a new season, and more broadly, remind myself and others that things change and where we find ourselves today isn’t where we’ll be tomorrow. There are usually some oblique references to current events – very sadly, war and death have been near-constant subtexts – along with a few chuckles, choice covers, and more than anything, an attempt to be emotionally honest about the state of things.
Up until this point, the Seasonal Mixes have been a personal gift to friends and random strangers who seemed to need a fresh melody, a CD passed with a warm smile and a hug. Starting with this 11th winter offering, I’ll be sharing this series on Dirty Impound. Perhaps it will be a chance for the community gathering around this labor of love to pause, reflect and maybe even rejoice a bit together with folks they’ll likely never meet but share this beautiful world with – an infinitesimally small nudge towards some greater good. Comments are heartily encouraged. Tell us about where you stand, what these songs stir up, whatever. The space is open to all.
This installment is partially inspired by my recent nighttime walks around my suburban neighborhood in Northern California, drinking in the Christmas lights and cool air while stumbling across stray bits of wonder and remembering what this season felt like as a child (and how that slipped away with the years). It has a bang-up Journey cover from Clem Snide, a pair of wistful heart-tuggers from a pair of singer-songwriters you really should know (Greg Humphreys, Kiyoshi Foster), one from a master musician that deserves FAR more credit than he often gets (Papa Mali), and a couple songs that have haunted me in the finest ways all year from The Barr Brothers and Greensky Bluegrass. Finally, I dedicate the Paul Simon tune here to my lovely wife Sara, who built this website for her writer husband and never ceases to support his dreaming out loud. It’s no lie, cliché that is is, I loved her the first time I saw her. Now, let’s go make some snow angels and look up at the drifting clouds.
If you experience playback problems, pop over to the 8tracks mix page and it should play fine.