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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, March 3, 2024

What's the Mood?: Pres Lawn

Welcome back, readers, to another sunny day at the Harvard of Medford/Somerville! With all of this pleasant weather we’ve been having, and the existential dread about the coming of winter that only a Californian first-year can have, I’ve been trying to enjoy the outdoors as much as I can. And as everyone knows, if there’s one place on campus that’s perfect for relaxing in the sun while procrastinating your (i.e., my) psych reading, it’s the President’s Lawn. So next time you’re hanging there on a nice day, slap these 12 songs for a good time:

  1. ​“Speaking Sonar” by Summer Salt
  2. “Barbados” by the Polar Boys
  3. “24 / 7 / 365” by Surfaces
  4. “Gallipoli” by Beirut
  5. “I Turned My Back on the Written Word” by Generationals
  6. “Sitting In The Palmtree” by ABBA
  7. “Marcel” by Her’s
  8. “Busy Doin’ Nothin’” by The Beach Boys
  9. “Rockaway” by Summer Salt
  10. “Congratulations” by MGMT
  11. “Your Sufferin’ Heart” by Born Ruffians
  12. “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” by Talking Heads
Those of you with a keen eye might be thinking, “Wow, did Mason really use two songs by Summer Salt in one playlist?” I sure did. They’re so good, I nearly used four. Summer Salt exemplifies the feeling of sunshine relaxation better than most bands I can think of. With their easy melodies and pleasant harmonies, Summer Salt falls somewhere between surf rock and dream pop. While I picked “Rockaway” (2014) and “Speaking Sonar” (2018) because they were the two songs that got me into the band, any one of their songs could fit just as easily, and I’d highly recommend anyone to play their albums in full when seeking to unwind and enjoy a warm day.

Summer Salt was heavily influenced by bossa nova, a Brazilian music style developed in the mid-20th century which mixed samba and jazz music, and is commonly thought of as “cafe music.” Generally, lyrics were focused on an easy-going lifestyle, also reflected by its characteristic swaying rhythm. 

On this playlist, the influences of bossa nova go beyond just Summer Salt. For example, “24 / 7 / 365” (2017) by Surfaces is essentially a modern remake of “The Girl from Ipanema” (1964), perhaps the most well-known song of the genre. “24 / 7 / 365” combines the tradition of “The Girl from Ipanema” with contemporary music-making technology that creates a cool mix of the new and the old. Also, “Busy Doin’ Nothin” (1968) by The Beach Boys was described by its leader, Brian Wilson, as “inspired by bossa nova in general.” The song describesWilson’s lazy afternoon lounging in his house and is backed up by its bossa nova roots to echo the leisure of the lyrics. Unsurprisingly, The Beach Boys (who are also my favorite all-time band), have plenty of other songs that would fit well into the playlist, especially some of their lesser-known songs such as “Please Let Me Wonder” (1965) and “Your Summer Dream” (1963).

With that final note, stop reading this column and head outside to enjoy "The Warmth of the Sun" (1964) (another great Beach Boys song — god, they’re great) while you still can!