As we sit here, thinking back on the sun-splashed summer months just past, it gets quiet. Deep quiet. You feel like you can reach out and grab a handful of the silence.
Not only is it getting to be the end of the night, but the end of the season, the end of another chapter in the life. The nights are turning cool in our corner of Wisconsin, and all the summer visitors are going home, so they’ll start packing up the outdoor bars after this weekend.
So we head over to the jukebox for a little music that will only intensify that deep quiet, only feed the longing for a few more weeks or days of another summer that blew past too quickly.
“Summer,” War, 1976, from “The Best of War and More,” 1991.
Cliched, perhaps, but still just the right vibe to get us started.
“The Moonbeam Song,” Harry Nilsson, from “Nilsson Schmilsson,” 1971. (The link is to a 2004 expanded version with six extra cuts.)
“Martini 5-0,” The Blue Hawaiians, from “Sway,” 1998.
Just about anything this L.A. surf/tiki/exotica noir band does is suitable for this kind of night. As in “Last Days of Summer,” another cut from the same album. Give it a listen on their MySpace page.
“Blues for the Night Owl,” Ramsey Lewis, from “The Greatest Hits of Ramsey Lewis,” 1973.
“Rememberin’ Stevie,” Buddy Guy, from “Damn Right I Got the Blues,” 1991. (The original CD apparently is out of print, so this link is for a 2005 expanded edition with two cuts that were B sides in the UK.)
This tune, a tribute to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, is one I will forever associate with one particular end-of-the-night experience.
I took this CD along when I joined some pals on a road trip to a college basketball game. It had just come out, so it had to be late 1991 or early 1992 — not all that long after Stevie Ray’s death in a helicopter crash on a southern Wisconsin hillside in August 1990.
It was a 2-hour drive each way, and it got to be a long night. We were driving home, and we’d been shooting the breeze. But once we got to this cut, the last on the CD, it didn’t take too long before all four of us were listening in silence.
When it ended, I vividly remember one of my pals breaking the long silence.
“Whew!” he said, exhaling deeply.
“Man!” another of the fellas said.
Perhaps you, too, will have the same reaction if you play it late at night, as summer winds to a close.