I’ve never really felt summer come slowly. Winter is always a crash-and-burn disaster, so bad that I forget it annually, and spring is sudden and confusing, Charlottesville alighting with still-too-cold undergrad summer gear and the uninsistent southern laughter of men and women about to go home. Now that it’s mid-May, the East coast is alternately drenched and bathed in the happiest early summer sunlight, and all I want to do is lie down and be swallowed by it.
I made a mix for that! All kinds of country, a little gospel, a little folk, some slant-blues. Karen Dalton’s holy warbles are the sneak-up, crooning “love is blind” into Bobby Charles’ cool invective, “you gotta give me all the love I want.” I threw in a few classics—Billy Joe Shaver’s blithe farewell to his “bottom dollar,” Dave Van Ronk growling the original “Baby Let Me Lay It On You,” a faux-Hawaiian version of “Soldier’s Joy,” Riley Puckett singing the hobo lullaby, “Ragged But Right,” that dates back to at least as early as 1900 and makes me feel justified, in all its confidence, for causing some kind of scene. A mix for sitting still, “Milky White Way” paces us, and Jake Fussel’s “Raggy Levy”—a cover of the Georgia Sea Island Singers’ call-and-response song by the same name—is a sit-down shimmy. “Cairo Blues,” with its unrelenting “KAY-row,” has a place on my ongoing list of heart-rending yelps. There’s fife and Hawaiian slide guitar, four-part harmony and organ, the great and eternal Doug Sahm! Happy summer, ACRO friends. Things are only looking up.