Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Seasonal Affection Disorder*

* Yeah, it's a thing, honest.
** OK, I made it up. But please indulge me and allow me to elaborate.

This past weekend, this past, glorious, sunny, hot weekend, free of commitments I packed up a bag with a towel, notebook (a trusty, scuffed tan Moleskine), cartridge pen (a slightly tooth-pocked LAMY) and back-up biros (in case the cartridge ran out), and my iPod, which I'd jam-packed with a playlist of largely summer tunes. And I headed for my local park which is a five-minute trot from one of the busiest roundabouts in the town, and from the station, and yet seems a world away once you're inside, propped up against a tree and lost in the dulcet strains of, let's say, this little ditty:

I Love You Always Forever | Donna Lewis

I'd class the above as a summer track (or a road-trip track at the very least, because in my mind road trips are synonymous with summer ... but more on that in a mo).

See, I've noticed a pattern in the last few years.

In winter, as the weather changes, my hands start splitting. That's a given. (I have hydrocortisone, now, though, I'm all set for the next few months.)

In summer, as the weather changes, my hands, er, start splitting. When I was a teenager the change in seasons used to prompt nosebleeds. Luckily, twenty years on I've grown out of those.

But that's not what I mean.

In winter, as Christmas approaches, I clear my iPod of ambivalent songs and pack it full of Christmas songs. Winter warmers. Carols. Cliff Richard. Soundtracks of favourite Christmassy films: Love Actually. While You Were Sleeping. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. And I start making notes on cosy stories about family reunions at Christmas and planning slushy, quirky romcoms.

Not so in the summer, however.

In summer, I clear my iPod of ambivalent songs and pack it full of summery songs. Road-trip songs, trippy, heatwave songs. Perky holiday pop. And I start making notes on summery stories about cottages by the sea, road trips, train journeys, escapes, retreats and, er...

Endless Summer Nights | Richard Marx. Because I'm a kitsch little kitten at heart.
And who doesn't want to let their mullet blow freely in the summer breeze?

Mood plays a huge part in music choice. Two weeks ago in a fit of post-MoonWalk PMS-laden moribundity (and yes, that could be a word) I filled the iPod with gloom to match my mental state. Lamb, Gorecki. Alanis Morrisette, Uninvited. That sort of thing.

Two weeks later, in a significantly more buoyant mood I was clearing out the gloom and making way for 1988-era Richard Marx and a notable amount of cheery 90s dance:

Saltwater | Chicane

But of course music also influences my mood especially when I'm writing. If I need to be crafting a more serious scene then the haunting strains of Chicane will be swiftly bypassed in favour of Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls (I should mention that the City of Angels soundtrack is glorious. The film, not so much, but the soundtrack is splendid).

And atmosphere plays a huge role in my choice of music, which is why my current iPod playlist is such a moody mismatch of 90s dance and slightly more mellow pop. It needs to propel me down the road to work, help me doze on the commute home and inspire me to write in the times in between.

via Pinterest
I spoke in a previous post about how certain 80s pop songs can propel me back to my childhood in an instant. 90s dance takes me back to my teens and twenties. Certain songs can send me right back to the school classroom, to unrequited crushes, GCSE revision, or studying outside my Halls of Residence and sleeping until noon as a university student, or my clubbing period in the late nineties, early noughties.

And songs often have strong, seasonal connotations. I can't listen to Saviour's Day after about 28th December. And I can't listen to Don Henley, The Boys of Summer, after about 15th September. It just feels wrong.

Other songs are less clear-cut but for whatever reason I have to be in the right mood for some, whatever the weather!

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