Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The Carter Family, When The Springtime Comes Again.
Nina Simone, Here Comes the Sun.
The Lemon Drops, I Live In the Springtime.
Tanya Tucker, Spring.
Igor Stravinsky, Rite of Spring: The Adoration of the Earth--Dances of the Young Girls.
Gustav Mahler, The Drunkard In Spring.
Donovan, The Lullaby of Spring.
Edith Piaf, Enfin le Printemps.
Biz Markie, Spring Again.
Reno and Smiley, Springtime In Heaven.
Sun Ra, Springtime in Chicago.
Jonathan Richman, Springtime in New York.
The Go-Betweens, Spring Rain.
Teddy Joyce, March Winds and April Showers.
Jolie Holland, Springtime Can Kill You.
Billie Holiday, Some Other Spring.
Vic Godard and the Subway Sect, Spring Is Grey.
Marlene Dietrich, Another Spring, Another Love.
Bill Evans, You Must Believe In Spring.
Yo La Tengo, I Live In the Springtime.
John Fahey, When the Springtime Comes Again.

Five minutes ago, not far from here, I met a man I know, Adalbart, the novelist. "God damn the spring!" says he in the aggressive way he has. "It is and always has been the most ghastly time of the year. Can you get hold of a single sensible idea, Kröger? Can you sit still and work out even the smallest effect, when your blood tickles till it's positively indecent and you are teased by a whole host of irrelevant sensations that when you look at them turn out to be unworkable trash? For my part, I am going to a cafe. A cafe is neutral territory, the change of the seasons doesn't affect it..."

Well, you see, he's not the only one; the spring makes me nervous too; I get dazed with the triflingness and sacredness of the memories and feelings it evokes; only that I don't succeed in looking down on it; for the truth is it makes me ashamed; I quail before its sheer naturalness and triumphant youth. And I don't know whether I should envy Adalbart or despise him for his ignorance.

Thomas Mann, Tonio Kröger.

And so it was that the weather did in fact change.

The next day, around the church in Auteuil, Palm Sunday gave forth its odor of tomcat and flowers. Vinca opened the window facing the street, one of the last village streets left in Auteuil, to watch for Philippe and his parents, who were coming for lunch. She leaned out to wonder at the spent lilacs and the mahonia with leaves the color of reddish iron, squeezed in between the gate and the front of the house.

"When we're married, this is where I'll wait for Philippe..."

She belonged to that sweet, tenacious, hardy race, oblivious to progress, with no desire either to change or to perish.

Colette, April.

Of prymtyme, and what it is.

The prymtyme is hot & moist temperately as the air. This season the blood moveth and spreadeth to all the members of the body, and the body is parfaite in temperate complexion. In this season chickens, kids, and poached eggs ought to be eaten, with lettuces & goat's milk in these three months. Prymtyme beginneth when the sun entereth the sign of Aries and lasteth .xcii. days, an hour and a half from the .x. day of March to the .x. day of June. In this season is the best letting of blood of any time. And then is good to travail and to be laxative. And to be bathed. And to eat such things as will purge the belly. For all diseases that cometh, either by purging or bleeding, returneth anon in this prymtyme.

Secreta secretorum (believed by medieval scholars to have been written by Aristotle, but actually a translation of the Arabic Kitab sirr al-asrar).

Spring, of all seasons most gratuitous,
Is fold of untaught flower, is race of water,
Is earth's most multiple, excited daughter.

Philip Larkin, "Spring."

A cold spring:
the violet was flawed on the lawn.
For two weeks or more the trees hesitated;
the little leaves waited,
carefully indicating their characteristics.
Finally a grave green dust
settled over your big and aimless hills.

Elizabeth Bishop, "A Cold Spring."

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring--
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, "Spring."

There is nothing in this world more bitter than spring.

Camper Van Beethoven, "June."

Your storm is over; lady, now appear
Like to the peeping springtime of the year.
Off then with grave clothes; put fresh colours on,
And flow and flame in your vermilion.

Robert Herrick, "Comfort to a Lady Upon the Death of Her Husband."

How many more springs can I hope to see? A sanguine temper would say ten or twelve; let me dare to hope humbly for five or six. That is a great many. Five or six spring-times, welcomed joyously, lovingly watched from the first celandine to the budding of the rose; who shall dare to call it a stinted boon? Five or six times the miracle of earth reclad, the vision of splendour and loveliness which tongue has never yet described, set before my gazing. To think of it is to fear that I ask too much.

George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft, "Spring."

And now my spring beauties,
Things of the earth,
Beetles, shards and wings of moth
And snail houses left
From last summer's wreck,
Now spring smoke
Of the burned dead leaves
And veils of the scent
Of some secret plant,

Come, my beauties, teach me,
Let me have your wild surprise,
Yes, and tell me on my knees
Of your new life.

Jean Garrigue, "Spring Song II."

When you're lost in the rain in Juarez
and it's Eastertime too.

Bob Dylan, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues."

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs...Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said, "Bother!" and "Oh blow!" and also "Hang spring cleaning!" and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows.

oh it's spring, and I'm more transparent than ever:
I heard the white-breasted nuthatch gurble over the trunk
bark today, and tonight everything is so clear, it's

going down to zero: my idealism's as thin as the sprinkled
sky and nearly as expansive: I don't love anybody much:
that accounts for my width and most of my height...

A.R. Ammons, Sphere: the Form of a Motion.

Soon I shall grow to be astonished how I could ever have gone out, in the sunshine and springtide of my life, to swim in the sea of thought and passion--the more astonished as time goes on, and brings me warning that I grow too old for such enterprise.

Robert Browning, Fifine at the Fair.

As spring is also the season of rutting, please check out Alex's post on sex raps over on Moistworks.

End credits: The Carter Family's 1930 "Springtime Comes Again" (their version of the trad. "Little Annie") is on the 5-CD set 1927-1933, while John Fahey's take, from 1967, is on Death Chants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes; Nina Simone's 1971 cover of "Here Comes the Sun" is on Essential Nina Simone Vol. 2; the Lemon Drops' "I Live in the Springtime," from 1967, is on Nuggets (the Yo La Tengo cover is from a concert in Seattle, March 2000); Tanya Tucker's "Spring," which may make you cry, so watch out if you're listening at work, is from 1975--on 16 Greatest Hits.

The excerpt from Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" was conducted by Igor himself, in 1961; "The Drunkard in Spring," in which Gustav Mahler set a Li Po poem to music, is from Das Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth)--sung by Fritz Wunderlich and conducted by Otto Klemperer in the essential recording of the piece (English-Chinese-French-German face-off translation here); Donovan's "Lullaby of Spring" is off 1967's A Gift From a Flower to a Garden; Biz Markie and Edith Piaf, a couple sadly separated by time and circumstance, are both happy that spring is here--his "Spring Again" is on 1989's The Biz Never Sleeps, her "Enfin le Printemps," from 1954, is on Legendary Edith Piaf.

Springtime in heaven (Reno and Smiley's 1954 King single is on the out-of-print Early Years), in Chicago (Sun Ra, from 1956, is on the fantastic LP Super-Sonic Jazz) and in New York (on Jonathan Richman's Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow, from 2001).

Gloomy springtimes: Jolie Holland's "Springtime Can Kill You" is the title track of her 2006 LP; Billie Holiday's 1939 version of "Some Other Spring" (which she once said was her favorite song) is on Lady Day: Master Takes ; Vic Godard's grey spring was recorded around 1979 and is out of print.

Rainy springtimes: "Spring Rain" leads off the Go-Betweens' 1986 Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express; Teddy Joyce's "March Winds and April Showers," a British pop hit from 1935, was on the soundtrack of Dennis Potter's Pennies from Heaven.

Finally, Lili von Shtupp's"Another Spring, Another Love," from 1957, is on The Very Best; and Bill Evans, Eddie Gomez and Eliot Zigmund's gorgeous take on Michel Legrand's "You Must Believe in Spring" was recorded in 1977 and released after Evans' death a few years later, as the title track of this record.

Paintings (top to bottom): Sandro Botticelli, Allegory of Spring (+ detail); Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Spring; Claude Monet, Le Printemps, Giverny; William Bouguereau, A Dream of Spring; Francis Picabia, The Spring.

Folk tales from various European countries claim that only on the March equinox day one can balance an egg on its point. However one can balance an egg on its point any day of the year if one has the patience.


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