Song of the Day

Sunshine by Chris Bell (1974)

Writing this song is almost like living it / I can remember it, just like it was yesterday.

With apologies to more harsher environments, living in the Northeast US in February and March is a cruel, brutal existence.  At least in Alaska, Scandinavian countries, and Siberia, you know once winter starts, you’ll barely see a sunny day or temperatures over 20ºF until mid-May, if you’re lucky.  The Northeast, the evil seductress that it is, will tease and trick its inhabitants by occasionally throwing in a 50º or even 60º day in mid-February.  Everyone gets excited.  They clean their yards of winter debris, they leave coats and jackets at home, and will even venture out in a pair of shorts.  As just as quickly as the warm weather dangles that sweet, succulent carrot in front of us, it yanks it away for another month while laughing at our naiveté.

I cannot express strongly enough in words how much I fucking hate winter this time of year. I’ve simply had it.  After enduring cold and general uncomfortableness for the better part of four months, I’m ready to end it all.  Enough is enough. No one likes this, except skiers and ice fishers.  Baseball starts in two weeks and we still have a foot of hard, crusty snow on the ground.  Please Lord, put me out of my misery.  I have plans to avoid this living hell in the future, i.e. Go West young man, but that’s still years from now.  Until then, I have to try to maintain my sanity every year at this time so I don’t spiral into a haze of drugs and booze, rock-star style.  March 20th, the supposed first day of Spring, means nothing to me.  Let’s go ahead and move it to May 1st to be more accurate.

The only thing that keeps me from shoving my head in a microwave, other than Opening Day, is the escape of music.  I listen to happy songs, find my happy place, think warm, happy thoughts.  “Sunshine” by Chris Bell works for me.  It’s a short, sweet song that is simply lovely.  I can’t think of a better way to describe it.

Chris Bell, along with Alex Chilton, formed and wrote many of the songs for Big Star in the 1970’s.  Big Star, like The Velvet Underground and The Stooges, were way ahead of their time.  They had little commercial success in their time, but their status and influence on future generations has steadily increased their impact and exposure over the years.  I didn’t get into Big Star until I was in my late 20’s or early 30’s, but I could quickly see how they influenced everyone from R.E.M. and The Replacements to Beck, Teenage Fanclub, and countless other pop/rock bands over the last 40 years.  They were just incredible songwriters.  Bell died tragically in a car crash at the age of 27.  Before that, he left Big Star, struggled with depression and substance abuse — which unfortunately mirrors my feelings on winter in March, not that his real life travails compare whatsoever with my bitching — yet kept making great music.  I cannot recommend enough checking out some of Big Star and Chris Bell’s discography.  You won’t be sorry.  It will put a smile on your face and we can use every smile we can get these days.

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