Music for a Heat Wave
Laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, two cold showers a day...
It is oppressively hot. It has been oppressively hot. It is July and it will continue to be oppressively hot. I will be transparent—I was not built for the heat. I grew up in Maine, splitting my childhood between Portland and Reykjavik (the result of a divorce so contentious it became transcontinental). My skin contains such a pallor that I quite literally glow in the dark. I have spent many hours dedicated to finding out if you can be allergic to heat. I have a soft spot for those Walmart freezer pops that are just sugar and chemical dyes. Blue raspberry is my favorite.
I miss swimming in that kink in the Hudson upstate that all the Skidmore College students go to, fresh from the farmer’s market with a backpack full of goat cheese and fresh strawberries and bespoke beverages. I feel like if I look at the East River too long (or the Hudson anywhere south of Glens Falls), the sight alone will give me a staph infection. Instead of sweet summer moments swimming upstate I will marinate in sweat and the smell of hot Brooklyn garbage, something that admittedly becomes a bit sexy after 2am in a Last-Days-of-Disco kind of way. I keep my water bottle close and my record player closer, so here are my top five albums for the thick, swampy July heat.
Maggot Brain, Funkadelic (1971)
Has anyone really ever done it quite like George Clinton? Not only is Maggot Brain a masterpiece (of funk, of rock, of psychedelia, of the album format, etc etc etc), it is an album made to be listened to front-to-back. I think the best companion piece to Clinton’s oeuvre is the so-bad-it’s-good 1996 classic teen sex comedy P.C.U., a cautionary tale about the dangers of political correctness taking over New England liberal arts colleges. Alongside Jeremy Piven, David Spade, and the late great Jessica Walters, Clinton appears extensively as himself, using the power of funk music to overcome cultural liberalism.
(Similar recommendations: Freedom Fight by Shuggie Otis & Thank Christ For the Bomb, The Groundhogs)