*Let me be your everlasting light
The sun when there is none
I’m a Shepard for you
And I’ll guide you through
Let me be your everlasting light
Everyone has his favorite private memories of summer nights out on Long Island. Nevertheless, we all get nostalgic about similar things. Me? Ice cream, carnivals and the beach just before sunset are the big three. And then there’s the music.
Music is the intangible wind: It passes through us, wraps around us and connects us to far reaching places. To people far away. To inspiration. Music saves our quests for happiness from becoming parenthetical to our quests for survival. A song can be a lover, competitor, neighbor or ghost. It is a synapse between the individual and the universal. Rap, jazz, rock, folk…whatever your flavor, a song can sew you into the quiltwork of our nation as easily as it calls you to muster your courage in pursuit of individuality. Music inspires like almost no other artform can. It morphs our ideas from one thing to another—hazing the lines between black and white to infinite shades of grey. I can’t help but think of that quote that Hendrix is jazz and Coltrane is rock (think about it). Music, the great connector to something higher than our limited selves, can be whatever you want it to be.
One of the greatest facets of modern music is the freedom to improvise. Many great bands rallied throngs because they could deliver the expected (play it the way they do on the album), but also take the audience to a new, exciting place. Bob Weir calls this “letting the music happen” in this issue’s interview with Pete Fornatale. Weir started with The Grateful Dead as “The Kid.” When The Dead took the stage, it was like watching a village festival unfold. Though there are fewer in his latest band with Phil Lesh, Furthur, Weir continues in this spirit. He tells us about his connection to Jerry Garcia (still), the Beat Poets, his past and his future, all through the music.
Chuck D shares his Rhyme and Reason with us as well. It’s been a long time since Public Enemy broke its first album. Yet the group, the lyrics and their pioneering are as poignant and relevant today as ever (hello Arizona). Chuck draws connections across cultural plains—from Martin Luther King Jr., to Allen Ginsberg to Bob Dylan to Wu Tang Clan—all held together by music. And more importantly, he reminds us of the blending of cultures through the blending of music.
Harper Simon’s Harper Simon is Alan Semerdjian’s profile of an artist who is born to one of the brightest singer/songwriters yet claims his own place at the table. His process is organic: Working with artists he admires to achieve collaborations that are at once unique and familiar.
In his interview with Steve Matteo, Hot Tuna’s Jorma Kaukonen talks about this as well (are you sensing a theme?). The Six Degrees of Hot Tuna focuses on Kaukonen’s career as a musician who’s played with (and through) some of the greatest performers of time. Matteo also delivers his music editor’s picks for the Best Summer Concerts. Tom Petty is an easy guess, but following his selected highlights will create an inimitable soundtrack, live in 2010.
Music also brings us to new memories. Like the holiday season, summer is all about sharing our time with friends. Especially outdoors. We’ve assembled the references you’ll live to host by when entertaining outdoors. For one, our BBQ segment is put together by a confederacy of Top Chefs: Bobby Flay on burgers, The Poll Brothers on steak, Jean Mackenzie on seafood, John Robertson on salads and Aziz Yosofi on fries. Their efforts create what you might consider a barbecuer’s bible. Lauren Debellis, our home and living columnist, weighs in with some terrific ideas on how to throw an event in Easy, Breezy Summer Entertaining. And of course, our Gypsy Kings fashion story will keep you outfitted to the mood.
*Loneliness is over/Dark days are through.
*Everlasting Light, The Black Keys