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"Top Five" Spring songs

Well, it’s officially spring, even though seasons are more of a rumor than a reality in Florida. We could describe our seasonal climate much more accurately if we took a cue from Taco Bell sauces and went with “Mild,” “Hot” and “Fire.” Nonetheless, the calendar says it’s spring, and calendars are obviously infallible. If you buy into the literary and cultural definition of spring, we’ll all be running around with parasols, having picnics and experiencing some sort of magical rebirth and cleansing of the soul. But regardless of what spring means to you, here are five great windows-down, daytime-barbecue, warm-breezy-beach-day spring songs.

“A Minha Menina (My Girl)” – Os Mutantes
Formed in Sao Paolo, Brazil and heavily influenced by the Tropicalia movement, Os Mutantes certainly knows how to pump listeners full of fun-loving sunshine with a full-of-flare blend of psychedelic rock and art. Utilizing male and female vocals, The Mutants as its name translates in English, have a variety of sounds ranging from tropical dance numbers to heavy progressive rock. But this song’s unique mix of guitars that grind like rusty chainsaw blades, clap-happy campfire sing-a-long-in-Portuguese vocals and livelier-than-Carnaval backing music sets it apart. Even if you don’t speak Portuguese, this song is easily more fun than Rosetta Stone software, so maybe you’ll pick up a thing or two. And it’s perfect for your next cookout-turned-dance party.

“You Set the Scene” – Love
Love, though not fully appreciated by anyone besides critics and other musicians during its heyday in the late ‘60s, has subsequently garnered a legacy as one of the most influential bands of all time. This song, off its seminal album “Forever Changes,” is a great example of the diversity of the band and its eclectic psychedelic sound. Don’t let the lyrics “This is the only thing that I am sure of/ And that’s all that lives is gonna die/ And there’ll always be some people here to wonder why/ And for every happy hello, there will be goodbye/ There’ll be time for you to put yourself on” fool you. This song has an awesome spring vibe, albeit in an enjoy-it-while-you-can sort of way. And vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Arthur Lee’s golden vocals never dissapoint.

“I Live in the Springtime” – The Lemon Drops
What’s with psychedelic pop songs and spring? As the third song of this type on the list, it can’t be a coincidence. Mid-‘60s garage bands from Brazil to Chicago (from where the Lemon Drops hailed) obviously knew how to have a good time and celebrate the season. Though it’s a lesser known band than Os Mutantes or Love, The Lemon Drops had a series of misfortunes and bunglings with record executives that prevented it from being much more than a few spins on a “Nuggets” box set CD. Who knows what could have been as they certainly had a knack for literal appreciation of spring. The lyrics “I live in the springtime/ There’s no in-between time/ I live in the sunshine” might be closer in quality to “Happy Birthday” than “Blowin’ in the Wind,” but the song will rock your face.

“Butterflies Drowned in Wine” – Smog
Cleverly written and strange like many of “formerly lo-fi” singer/songwriter Bill Callahan’s songs, this tune shows an upbeat and jangly side. Callahan uses his standard deadpan, baritone vocal stylings, but instead of sounding morose, as his style sometimes dictates, this song unravels into a raucous, tipsy sing-a-long. He begins his soundtrack for getting out into the world with the lyrics “Butterflies drowned in wine/ I’m headed into town/ Where up is up and down is down/ None of this fumbling around/ Oh, phantom fingers straighten a phantom tie/ I’m going to talk to some people there/ Forget everything I’m told/ In one ear and out the other.” This song just oozes the spirit of spring and is an excellent mid-morning car jam.

“Legal Man” – Belle and Sebastian
What says spring more than the lyrics “L-O-V-E love; it’s coming back; it’s coming back/ Get out of the city and into the sunshine/ Get out of the office and into the springtime?” It’s hard to say, but you have to trust a band from Glasgow’s appreciation for spring, as they certainly have enough miserable weather to offset it. This happy-go-lucky dance-a-thon is about as upbeat as it gets, with fun, spastic keys, drums, and uproarious Ravi Shankar-toned guitar bursts dancing beneath layered vocals. Belle and Sebastian have songs for every mood, but their upbeat ones always seem to strike a chord in the pleasure zone of listeners, and this one is no exception. Open your windows, let the cool breeze and inviting sunshine in and dance your cares away.

Compiled by Jason Yurgartis.

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    Marc BielerFeb 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Hi- doing a “Spring” mix CD and came upon your thing here on google. Great song suggestions esp. Love, one of my favorite all-time bands. Never thought of “YSTS” as a seasonal thing, but I can see your connection here.
    Turned on to this Brazil sound-have a lot of Airto stuff-so thanks for pointing Os Mutantes out-downloaded a couple of their songs