by Andrew Burton
Welcome back to Songs of Fall, where we write about the music that’s connecting with us most as the weather gets colder. Each entry will be about a song we’ve been listening to a lot lately, new or old. Some will also include personal playlists.
Want to contribute? Pitch your Song of the Fall to email@example.com.
Having moved to New York City from Toronto, I thought my experience with my hometown's notorious heat would have conditioned me to withstand Hot Vax Summer, but I was wrong. NYC absolutely skilleted me. Every single day in July, I would step outside my apartment to 90 degrees of muggy overcast and sigh, Again? It felt like a permanent session of hot yoga. Trapped in a fishbowl of perspiration, your body may be moving, but you’re going nowhere. Everyone around you is soggy and off-putting. You’re spent within minutes, but the instructor never lets you leave.
Spacemen 3 made music for days like these. Like my weary ass in the summer heat, the British space rock group exerts the minimum required energy to move from point A to point B. Their lyrics are lazy, their albums are littered with covers, and their drones are often just the noodlings of two stoned white guys trying to play the blues. However, during those extra-long summer weeks when the humidity becomes too much to handle, the band’s music is the perfect antidote to apply between the ears. They strum blithe, repetitive guitar chords that match my drowsy state. Their beige psychedelia isn’t mind-bending; it’s mind-soothing, adding a titch of microdosed tranquility to my uncomfortable existence. Spacemen 3 were never meticulous enough to craft anything intricate, and I never wanted them to be.
“Transparent Radiation” is an elongated interpretation of Texas psych rock progenerators The Red Krayola’s song of the same name, a thump-and-bump garage rock track with loud sounds flying in every direction. Spacemen 3’s reworking glides like a dove, clearing your mind so you can gaze in bewilderment at all that’s around you. Containing only guitar, vocals, and violin, it’s almost ten minutes long, but it could be thirty and still not be boring—high praise for a song so clean and sparse. Every year I re-fall in love with its mild ride, but this extra sultry summer made it stick all the more. My admiration for the song has carried into my new fall environment, where it’s taken on a different purpose in my life. Whereas I used to lie down in Prospect Park in the sunny heat, close my eyes, and let “Transparent Radiation” guide me into an ethereal haze, it now plays in the background during the dwindling daylight hours, making the brief moments of light all the brighter.
Andrew Burton is a freelance writer from Toronto, currently based in Lower Manhattan. Get to know him better: @fixin2die