December 8, 2014 by NowhereButPop
Syracuse University was recently ranked as the #1 party school in the country; this doesn’t mean that they throw the best parties (they don’t), just that the student body parties more frequently and prevalently than any other school in the country. What makes this feat even more impressive is when you realize that Syracuse is a decaying city with more bums than grad students. Being located in one of the shittiest regions in the entire country, Syracuse is a city that’s also inhumanely cold 10 months out of the year.
The cold makes people do crazy things though…
Historically speaking, August has the highest birth rate out of any other month. Nine months prior to August is December, right in the thick of winter. So in the midst of winter more people are having procreative sex, while in Syracuse, where it’s winter about 88% of the time, more kids go out to parties. That’s because the only thing to do in the winter is bone and drink….sometimes both at once.
My point isn’t to disparage my alma mater, nor is it to comment on human reproductive tendencies. The point is to show just how the weather and the seasons affect our behavior and actions. People get Seasonal Affective Disorder when not exposed to enough sunlight, and in the summer time hair grows faster. For whatever reason, the weather just has an undeniable effect on human behavior.
Just as you have people who describe themselves as being a “summer person”, or a “winter person”, there’re certain albums out there that are indicative of, and embody different seasons. Some albums are spring albums, some are summer albums, and so on and so forth; they just perfectly capture the feel, and the characteristics of the seasons. Each season has its own attributes, themes, and noticeable feelings associated with it. For an album to be a seasonal album, it has to personify those same feelings and traits. As such, there are certain criteria associated with each season that an album has to satisfy in order to be considered a seasonal album.
When looking at which albums are formatted to each season, my template is based on the first few albums that made me aware to this paradigm of music embodying the seasons. Houses of the Holy is the quintessential Spring album, Californication is the ideal Summer album, Quadrophenia perfectly encompasses everything about the Autumn, and Achtung Baby sums up the Winter in ways unparalleled.
Although these are the archetypical albums for each season, it’s not to say that they set the mold for each seasons’ criteria. Quite the contrary actually, these albums are just the most emblematic examples that underscore what exactly each season represents.
As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the spring has often served as a metaphor for rebirth and youth. Accordingly, spring albums are albums that personify these themes of resurgence and life, and as such they symbolize the thawing of winter’s cruel chill. Below are the following criteria for an album to be considered a “Spring Album”:
- Lyrics pertaining to a rebirth or rejuvenation of sorts
- A new musical direction pursued by the band or artist
- Typically an album that comes after a dark period in the bands’ existence
- A reflection on the past with an eye towards the future
- Examples of spring albums include: Houses of the Holy, Sign O’ the Times, and Sticky Fingers.
Summer albums take the themes of rebirth that spring albums adhere to, up to the furthest possible extreme. Summer albums can be described as being full of vitality and lively potency; they serve as reminders of the joys of life and often portray love in a very ideal and youthfully naïve manner. Summer albums tend to be more extreme than spring albums because they aren’t held back by the lingering and depressive totalitarianism of winter’s grip. Summer albums can be described by the following attributes:
- An intense appreciation of life, vigor, and youth
- A romantic approach to love and/or nostalgia
- Idealistic interpretations of the human experience
- An emphasis on the “new”
- Examples include: Californication, True Blue, Bat Out of Hell, and Teenage Dream
There’s always something quite duplicitous about the fall that betrays its bipolar nature. On the one hand, there’s celebration for the harvest, and the beauty of the leaves changing colors. On the other hand however, there’s fear of a scarce harvest, and an oncoming melancholy that the growing nights bring with it as the falls drags closer and closer to the winter. The fall is also a time of nostalgia for the youth and vivaciousness that the passing summer brought with it. A youthfulness that seems to have dissipated along with the warm and sunny days. The albums that have come to symbolize the fall all share the following traits:
- An emphasis romanticizing the past
- A heavy focus on nostalgia and depression that the passing of time brings
- Lamentations of loves lost
- An existential longing for something that is no longer present
- An internal hopelessness that can potentially pass
- Examples of fall albums include: Quadrophenia, Loose, The Suburbs, and Building the Perfect Beast
The winter is dark, impersonal, and cold; but, because of this we try and find any semblance of warmth, and intimacy that we’re able to. There’s a conflict between the external, dour forces of winter, and the internal, the part of us that fights against these overwhelming feelings that winter tends to bring out in us. Winter albums are all about igniting a fire of deep and personal humanity amidst the harsh, cold-heartedness of winter. Winter albums are summed up as:
- The most personal or intimate songs a band has written, disguised as being detached or far removed
- A strong sense of conflict between the exterior and the interior (i.e. events vs. personal feelings)
- A sonic harshness the underscores the bleakness of the album
- Simplistic or monochromatic album covers
- Examples include: Achtung Baby, 808s and Heartbreak, Reflektor, Led Zeppelin IV.
Every year there are passing fads, and musical trends that can be attributed to a certain period of time. For example grunge is relegated to the early 90s, disco to the late 70s, and T-Pain to the late 00s (fingers crossed on the last one). What most people don’t realize is that the seasons that make up the years have their own trends and ideals that they impose on musicians. Although their sway may not be considerably noticeable, the seasons and weather effects a disturbing amount of human trends. From everything to general happiness, to sperm production, to even ovulation patterns, the weather has a say in most of what we do. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the seasons influence music too.
 The day after my parents came to pick me up for the summer, it snowed in Syracuse. That was May 8th.