Cool sounds...

Cool sounds…

As of last week, summer is officially upon us… That means it’s time to find good songs for chilling out!

I’ve lived in the South for most of my life which means I’m really familiar with hot weather. For some reason, this year has been somewhat mild, at least in North Carolina. We will be moving to Texas at the bitter end of next month, which will put us in the dead of summer heat in Texas. I don’t know how the weather has been in Texas lately, but here in North Carolina, it hasn’t been bad at all. But even without triple digit temperatures, sometimes you just want to create a cool vibe. Today’s post is about just that… finding music that inspires you to cool it.

Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants

Yesterday, I listened to Stevie Wonder’s 1979 album Journey Though The Secret Life of Plants. This is a two disc set Stevie Wonder composed for a documentary by the same name, which was also based on a book of the same name. The documentary wasn’t a hit; frankly, by Stevie Wonder’s standards, neither was the soundtrack. For years, I had been curious about it and I finally picked it up when a friend and music faculty member at my alma mater, Longwood University, recommended it to me. I bought it, listened to it, and loved it. I count it as a great album for chilling out.

The title song from Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants

You could listen to this entire album and just zone out. Just the imagery of the plants makes me feel cool all over.

Zero 7’s “In The Waiting Line” from Simple Things

The first time I heard the song “In The Waiting Line”, I was watching an episode of Army Wives. It’s been used on a number television shows to set a certain mood. I liked the song so much that I downloaded the album it came from, Simple 7. I remember reading a review of the album that referred to it as the writer’s “favorite chill out” music.

The video for “In The Waiting Line”…

I can’t say I love the rest of the album quite as much as I love this song. But if you need to chill out, Simple Things definitely a good album to own.

Peter Gabriel’s Passion

Peter Gabriel composed the music for the film The Last Temptation of Christ and it’s on his album, Passion. This soundtrack is mostly instrumental, with musicians from all over the world coming together to make exotic sounds that excite the senses. I love this soundtrack when I hope to relax or do some thinking, even though it’s hard not to be swept up in Peter Gabriel’s brilliance.

Passion, the whole album because the whole album is so cool!

This music is timeless and intricate and it never fails to chill me out.

Dead Can Dance’s Into The Labyrinth

The first time I ever heard Dead Can Dance, it was 1993 and I was working as the cook at a church camp. I had a week off in mid summer and I spent it visiting my sister, who lives in the Washington, DC area. We took a trip to Ellicott City, Maryland, where I watched her try on clothes. At some point, we ended up in a music store and she purchased Into The Labyrinth by Dead Can Dance. She played it and I was pretty mesmerized by the sounds of this very intense album.

“The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove” by Dead Can Dance.

“The Carnival Is Over” by Dead Can Dance.

It was until fifteen years later that I got around to purchasing this album myself. Even though it’s now twenty years old, this music never gets old… It’s easy to get lost in its coolness. The song, “The Carnival Is Over” is especially chilling to me. I remember listening to it when we lived in Germany in a house that had no air conditioning. It was a hot summer night, but this music was like a refreshing breeze wafting though the house.

The Alan Parson’s Project “Sirius/Eye In The Sky” and “Time”

“Sirius” and “Eye In The Sky” are actually two songs that run into each other. “Sirius” is an instrumental, which actually makes me think of heat when it first starts. It’s very dramatic, with heavy thudding percussion, and a crashing guitar. But then the rhythmic bass line kicks in and it flows into the very cool hit song, “Eye In The Sky”.

“Sirius/Eye In The Sky” by The Alan Parson’s Project…

This song was popular in the early 1980s, but it never gets old to me. And it’s wicked cool. The Alan Parson’s Project actually has a lot of really timeless songs that never fail to chill me out. I also love to cool down with “Time”, another hit from the same time period.

“Time” is just plain majestic. When I hear this, I think of rushing rivers and waterfalls… and I miss the early 80s.

Kate Bush Never For Ever and Hounds of Love

It’s no secret that I love Kate Bush’s music. In the 1980s, she came out with two albums that I think are really cool, especially for summer listening. The first one, Never For Ever was released in 1980 and has a wonderful mix of cool songs, including one called “Delius (Song of Summer)”.

When I hear “Delius”, I immediately have visions of summer weather complete with refreshing breezes. This almost makes me want to eat a salad.

In 1985, Kate Bush released Hounds of Love, which includes the fabulous song “Cloudbusting”, which was based on a book Kate read about a man and his son building a rainmaker.

The video for “Cloudbusting”… It’s kind of a sad song, but it’s also very cool.

I could probably come up with more cool songs… but I must go out and mow the lawn while the temperature is still tolerable. That’s one thing about summer I never miss. Until next time, stay cool everyone!