The summer is wrapping up around here, and while most of you by now are ready to welcome a cooler, bug-free October, bear with us as we give a final salute to our favorite spots with this folky end of summer soundtrack. Remember: As much as you may loathe the muggy mornings and the bipolar weather moods of our August afternoons, you'll miss the warmer months when they're gone.
Eddie Vedder | Rise
One of the most iconic voices of our time, Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder spun his first full-length album with the soundtrack for Into the Wild, the book-to-movie true story of promising and privileged Christopher McCandless, who gives up all worldly possessions, burns all identifying documents, and sets out for a doomed solo voyage into the Alaskan wilderness. The movie was a perfect match for Vedder's songwriting, with, as Jeff Vrabel cheekily puts it, themes of “alienation and distancing and the self-discovery that can be found only in wandering and escape and solitude, themes you may remember from Every Other Thing Pearl Jam Has Ever Done.”
The stubborn optimism and perseverance fomented in “Rise” is contagious as the song builds into the chorus, and it’s just what you might need to force yourself out of bed at 3 a.m. to tackle the steep slopes of Thunderhead Mountain or Chimney Tops for a sunrise summit in the Smokies.
Even if you’re not ready to set fire to your drivers license and walk out into unending wilderness, “Rise” can still help you find a pocket of resistance to the everyday that will put you in the trail-trotting, cliff-jumping, waterhole-swimming kind of mood.
Ben Howard | Old Pine
This is my quintessential mountain song. I don't even care if the video is seemingly set on some annoyingly stunning Pacific Northwest beach, “Old Pine” will always be that song I turn on at the transcendent spot on Highway 441 where the tourist trappings of Gatlinburg immediately yield to trees and mountains streams of the Smokies. This song was a constant refrain of a summer I spent road tripping around the country with friends, and every time it came up on our mix CD's, we'd roll the windows down and yell “Careless and Young” whenever we got to that line. And we really were totally careless. And stupidly young. Those were the days...
Bon Iver | Calgary
Bon Iver's Justin Vernon has captured the sensitive mountain man ethos like no other artist. Known as “the guy who recorded an album alone in the woods,” music review juggernaut Pitchfork got it right when they said of Vernon, “There's something irresistible about the thought of a bearded dude from small-town Wisconsin retreating, heartbroken, to a cabin to write some songs.”
If what you thought was the love of your life turned out to just be just a summer fling, or if you just need to spend some time along with your thoughts, I suggest you take Vernon's sad falsetto with you into the mountains and stargaze to the synth-y sounds of “Calgary.”
(If you'd like some lyric-less stargazing tunes, this Spotify playlist is top notch!)
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros | Home
Even though they didn't form until 2007, this Los Angeles folk band channels the hippie movement like no band has since Woodstock, and their track “Home” is the perfect song to wile away the rest of the summer to. So sit back with Jade and Alexander and fall “deep, deeply in love” with your hometown.
The Dirty Guv'nahs | Morning Light
A Knoxville soundtrack wouldn't be complete without a little taste of the Guv'nahs. Knoxville's most beloved band is saying “so long” this year, with a farewell tour that will end in a huge sold-out celebration concert at the Tennessee Theatre in September.
“Morning Light” lauds the simple joy of friends getting together and doing dumb things in a small town. And while we won’t (officially) suggest you screw around on the South Gay street train tracks or trespass/break-dance at the Old Standard Knitting Mill, we do suggest that you get out in the city and make some memories. We've got a list of our favorite things to do in and around Knoxville, but feel free to come up with your own. Just make sure you pour one out for the Guv's. We'll miss you guys!