It's hot as balls in New York City. (I can say "hot," right?) It's humid, sticky, muggy and all sorts of other adjectives to describe the kind of heat wave that has me sweating bullets in the time it takes me to walk from my front stoop to the 7-Eleven on the corner, which can't be more than 500 feet away. Oh, and as I write this, it's also currently raining, because it's not enough for my hair to deal with humidity; it's gotta battle moisture, too.
When it's this hot out, there's no point in leaving the comfort of my air-conditioned bedroom -- and if I am forced to leave my air-conditioned bedroom, then there's really no point in putting effort into my appearance because I'm going to look like a wilted piece of lettuce the second I step outside.
All this talk about the heat wave got me thinking about the four elements -- earth, wind, fire and water -- and, more specifically, the songs that these phases of matter have inspired. To get closer to nature, check out songs by Bright Eyes, Jawbreaker, The Carpenters and Tegan And Sara.
1.) Bright Eyes' "Four Winds": If I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life, I'd probably choose Bright Eyes -- and/or any of the musical offshoots from prolific frontman Conor Oberst. "Four Winds" is a rambling, old-fashioned, folk-infused protest song, representative of the alt-country twang on 2007's Cassadaga. Conor's voice is mesmerizing, as always, and the song has such a timeless feel, it's hard to believe it's less than five years old.
2.) Jawbreaker's "Fireman": I'll probably lose major cred points by admitting this, but I didn't really get into Jawbreaker until my mid-20s, and the first album I heard was Dear You. I immediately fell in love and thought to myself, "If all their records sound like this, I NEED to get their entire catalog STAT!" Unfortunately, all of their records didn't sound like Dear You, and now they sit gathering dust in my closet. Many critics consider the band's major-label debut a flop, and the LP created so much tension within the band that infighting caused Jawbreaker to call it quits two years later. I still kick myself for never being able to see the band play live, but I still hold on to hope that the guys can bury the hatchet and reunite before I die. Hey, if Axl Rose can finish Chinese Democracy, anything's possible, right?
3.) The Carpenters' "Rainy Days And Mondays": I'm not usually a fan of '70s AM rock, but this lovelorn classic gets me every time. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a good -- yet completely unnecessary -- saxophone solo (i.e. Lady Gaga's "The Edge Of Glory"). Then again, who isn't?
4.) Tegan And Sara's "Soil, Soil": Clocking in at only 1:23 minutes, "Soil, Soil" sounds more like an interlude than a full song, but that's part of what makes it so beautiful. Tegan And Sara's album, The Con, is filled with unrequited love songs, and this one is definitely at the top of the heartbroken heap. Example lyrics include: "All you need to say to me/Is call (call)/And I'll be curled on the floor/Hiding out from it all/And I won't take any other call." For anyone who's ever waited by the phone and wanted to dig a hole and hide until it rang, this song is for you.