Back when I had some control over the music that was played at my college radio station, this was about the point that I’d finally relent and drag the meager collection of Christmas music out of deep storage. Yes, plenty of our on-air personnel were likely irritated that I waited so long (even back then, timeline creep with Christmas revelry was happening), but as someone who was generally listening to the station all day long, I could only take so much holiday cheer. While it certainly didn’t help that there was a relative dearth of seasonally appropriate college rock back then (even the best songs on A Very Special Christmas wear thin quickly), my Grinch-like animosity towards the jingly material probably stemmed more from other factors. Most notably, there was a pile-up of challenges at this time of year: final exams marking the end of the fall semester, worries over keeping the radio station properly staffed during break, and the arrival of frigid temperatures. It was that last factor that caused me the most dismay and led to personal playlist selections delivered as a sort of protest vote.
During the long, long (long, long, long) Wisconsin winter, I liked playing songs about summer, or least songs that mentioned the season that seemed so very distant. There was a certain brattiness to this, taunting listeners who were shivering on the other side of our frosty airwaves with a reminder of what they would be unable to experience any time in the near future. But I also just liked placing my psyche in warmer months, taking advantage of the broadcast studio’s controlled climate and air chair positioning that kept the nearby windows out of the deejay’s sightline to momentarily delude myself into believing I’d finish my shift by bounding out to a splendid Midwestern summer. The respite was feeble and fleeting, but I still had it.
I can’t testify with certainty that I ever played Wire Train’s “Skills of Summer” as one of my deep winter summer songs, but I returned to the music of the San Francisco band that it’s entirely possible. As I brace myself to experience a Wisconsin winter again, the first time in about fifteen years that I’ve been required to do so, I’m glad to have the song in my back pocket, literally. It shuffled up on my iPod while I was standing in the roaring December wind yesterday. For a second, it felt like I was standing instead in a summer breeze.
Listen or download –> Wire Train, “Skills of Summer”
(Disclaimer: I believe most of the Wire Train catalog is entirely out of print, at least as physical objects that can be procured from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said store and the original artist. The track is shared here with that belief, and the corresponding view that the sharing of it does not unduly impede fair commerce. That typed, I will gladly remove the song from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)