It’s summer in the city and sometimes during this time of year we find ourselves with the weird sensation of (gasp!) free time on our hands. Rather than letting this phenomenon catch you unawares on some stray Saturday afternoon, Jasper has you covered with our summertime series alliteratively called the Summer Sixes in which we ask members of the Columbia arts community to share their favorite top 6 films, reads, albums, or TV series binges. We’ll be bringing you this throughout the summer so pay attention to What Jasper Said to learn more about what your friends and neighbors like to do with their spare time, and maybe get some ideas of what to do with yours.
We're starting with Khris Coolidge, the cover artist for the current issue of Jasper that's out on the shelves right now. Here's what Khris had to say about his top 6 choices for Summertime Songs.
When I was a junior in high school, I took up the guitar, and the first songs I learned were by James Taylor, a popular singer/songwriter during the 1970s. I went on to sing his song “Rainy Day Man” at my high school talent show. I got a kiss on the cheek after that show, so I figured JT must know a thing or two about touching people’s hearts. However, not long after, I moved on to musicians like Bruce Springsteen and The Clash who thrashed out their songs, maybe not warming hearts so much as rocking people’s worlds. I never got back into JT, and eventually I put down my own guitar, but Taylor has kept on making music up through the present day. I’ve chosen six of his tunes that are likely not well known, but they speak to the thread that runs through JT’s work all these years: the significance of relationships with friends, family, lovers, children, and dogs.
- “Nobody But You” (Album: One Man Dog, 1971)
In this song JT expresses his appreciations for those who stuck with him through all his ups and down. He sings “You can talk about bands of angels/And they think you come with your soul in your hands to set their children free/But you talk about little bit of understanding, things that happen day to day/Some of you folks sure enough have been good to me.” One of the traditions at my workplace is starting Wednesday morning staff meetings with appreciations to colleagues for the work they’ve done and the support they’ve given. That’s a swell way to get a day going.
- Sarah Maria (Album: Gorilla, 1975)
Time to time Taylor has written about fatherhood, and this is a sweet ode to a daughter. In these few lines he captures a simple moment that captures a father’s heart: “Well you know about the sugar cane/That comes from way down south/She’s got one end in her hand/She’s got one end in her mouth/Sarah, Sarah Maria.”
- If I Keep My Heart Out Of Sight (Album: JT, 1977)
This is JT’s foray into lounge music, but he gets at the vulnerability that sometimes comes with loving someone when he sings “If I slip and tip my hand/I’m certain to scare you away.”
- “The Frozen Man” (Album: New Moon Shine, 1991)
This is Taylor’s tale of a man brought back to life after lying frozen for a century and re-fitted with some body parts, who discovers he would’ve rather stayed dead without his loved ones to live with. The frozen man sings “I thought it would be nice just to visit my grave, see what kind of tombstone I might have/I saw my wife and my daughter and it seemed so strange/both of them dead and gone from extreme old age/See here, when I die make sure I'm gone, don't leave 'em nothing to work on.”
- Another Day (Album: Hourglass, 1997)
“Wake up Suzy/Put your shoes on/Walk with me into this light/Finally this morning/I’m feeling whole again/ It was a hell of a night/Just to be with you by my side/Just to have you near in my sight/Just to walk a while in this light/Just to know that life goes on.” Who hasn’t had those tough times when we sought out the reassurance that comes with the mere presence of some trusted other?
- “Montana” (Album: Before This World, 2015)
JT’s lived the dream, had lots of success, but in this song he expresses the wisdom that it’s all about being with somebody you’re close to. “I'm not smart enough for this life I've been livin'/A little bit slow for the pace of the game/It's not I'm ungrateful for all I've been given/But nevertheless, just the same/I wish to my soul I was back in Montana/High on my mountain and deep in the snow/Up in my cabin, over the valley/Under the blankets with you.”