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Over the years I’ve read and talked to a lot people who say that certain songs and music have an almost geographical or photographic representation of a time and place. I feel this is something that is hard to formulate because it is primarily personal; however, I think that when one makes this personal connection these representations become completely undeniable.
Since coming to Montréal a number of bands and compositions have helped me understand and come to terms with what it means and feels like to live on this strange French Canadian island. However now that I’ve spent the last three years getting used to Montréal I have to prepare myself to move to San Diego and return to the American southwest in September. To help myself with this move I’ve been seeking out and listening to some particularly southwestern artists and songs.
Primarily based in L.A. (which is a mere 90 minutes north of San Diego) I’ve always felt that Warren Zevon writes songs that feel baked to exhaustion in the overly clear and optimistic skies of southern California. What I particularly like about Warren Zevon is that, unlike some other well-known L.A. musicians, he writes songs that a have a very distinct human and tragically dark and/or violent edge to them. To me it’s what you see when you get past a romantic conception that you’re living in an exotic desert paradise – it’s the true wild and often unforgiving natural harshness of a hot and dry terrain.
Calexico is band from Tucson, Arizona (where I spent most of my life) that writes music that frequently sounds like it belongs in the soundtrack to a movie about some of my old friends who would live from paycheck to paycheck or gig to gig in this heart of Sonoran desert. Listening to Calexico I can almost feel the hot wind reflecting off of downtown’s pavement in the middle of a dry desolate summer day or hear the sudden lightning that ushers in the harsh wind and rain of a sudden July monsoon shower.
Listening to these albums and songs I’m starting to get excited about returning to a land more familiar. In a few days I’ll post some songs that have helped me come to grips with Montréal and are already beginning to make me nostalgic