Spring is well and truly upon us. The magical time between the pervasive winter and the inescapable summer is full of relaxed vibes, flowers in bloom, baby animals, romance and the smell of gentle rains. To get you well and truly in the spring mood, here are five songs that capture what the season is all about.
“You make me feel as though spring has sprung,” Sinatra sings on this gorgeous pop classic. Like every song on its parent album Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, “You Make Me Feel So Young” has the breezy quality of a walk through the park. His supple, brassy voice never sounded more relaxed than it does here, even as he belts out the song’s climax with the vitality of a man half his age. True to its title, “You Make Me Feel So Young” is refreshing and effervescent in a totally effortless way.
While many of his contemporaries were coming down from the Summer of Love, Irish folkie Van Morrison was celebrating his artistic rebirth. In 1968 he carved out his place as an icon with the fearlessly independent record Astral Weeks. Opening with bright acoustic guitar and chimes that sound as fresh as morning dew, “Sweet Thing” builds to a beautiful climax of strings and woodwinds, with Morrison seeming ecstatic just to be alive. He sings, “And I will never, never, never grow so old again.”
Until she followed it up in 2005, Just Another Diamond Day was Vashti Bunyan’s only released album for over three decades, and yet it has long been an acknowledged classic of delicate pastoral folk. On the opening title track (which isn’t even two minutes in length), her voice is like spun sunlight, barely louder than the soft strings and flute that accompany it. In its simple joy, Bunyan’s music has the quality of a nursery rhyme: “Just another life to live / Just a word to say / Just another love to give / And a diamond day.”
As its name suggests, “The Big Sky” is as huge and expansive as a clear spring sky. On her fifth album Hounds of Love, Kate Bush truly came into her own as a composer and songwriter, and “The Big Sky” is one of the finest songs on the record. There’s something nostalgic to the wide-ranging freedom of the song, as its narrator remembers gazing at clouds and watching aeroplanes pass overhead. Being a Kate Bush song, it’s not entirely straightforward, but its gut-level pull can’t be denied.
“Lilac Wine” is a much older song than the late Jeff Buckley was when he recorded it on his debut record Grace, but he sings it as if the words are coming straight from the heart. Previous versions by the likes of Eartha Kitt and Nina Simone are nowhere near as earthy as Buckley’s simple guitar and voice version. It conjures the cool ambience of spring nights; it’s as restless and as beautiful as the boughs of a lilac tree dancing in the breeze.