According to the Byrds (and the Bible, or so I'm told), to everything there is a season.
Except for songs. Songs don't change with the seasons. They change with the hour.
The song you love at 8 a.m. is almost always different from the perfect lunchtime listen. The song that seems just right for an evening commute is rarely the right (I hope) sleepy-time song. Songs, when played at just the right moment, can be transcendental. Below is my list of perfect songs for specific moments in my day.
I'd be interested to hear your take on what songs are just the right soundtracks for specific times:
7 a.m., wake-up: The Payback, by James Brown
This extended funk jam brings the buoyancy needed for a wake-up call and is long enough, at just over seven minutes, to shake off the majority of the cobwebs.
8 a.m., morning commute: Lust for Life , Iggy Pop
It's possible some of the power of this punk chestnut has diminished since being commandeered by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line as an advertising jingle, but I still find it to be a great go-get-'em affirmation, even if a close appraisal does reveal it to be a memoir of drug-induced depravity.
10 a.m., work groove: Debaser, the Pixies
Those hours after messages and e-mails have been checked and returned require a sense of sonic urgency to keep moving forward. My first pick is this Boston band, but the live version of Otis Redding's Mr. Pitiful or anything off Appetite for Destruction will also suffice.
Noon, lunch: Let's Get It On, Marvin Gaye
This, for me, is the first moment I'm legitimately allowed to relax, and the music should reflect that. There's nothing quite as smooth as Marvin's grand romantic mood-setter. It's the perfect accompaniment for a club on toasted wheat.
1 p.m., post-lunch: Twenty-Flight Rock, Eddie Cochran
It takes a little something to get the motor running again after lunch. There's nothing serious or even significant about this rockabilly gem. It's just the perfect distillation of youthful exuberance.
3 p.m., maintenance: She's Tight, Cheap Trick
The end of the day is in sight, and perhaps energy is flagging. What to do? What to play? The mighty Cheap Trick always elevates, and though this is my current power pop favorite, any of this talented Midwest ensemble's tunes, save The Flame, will probably do the trick.
6 p.m., commute home: So What, Miles Davis
A great transition tune. The live version on the new 50th anniversary edition of Kind of Blue features an incredible band (Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane), and at just over 17 minutes, it's the perfect length for me to listen to twice before hitting my driveway. There's no nicer way to wash away work.
9 p.m., grown-up time: Angels and Fuselage, the Drive-By Truckers
A good one for after young ears have left the building. Not only does it save you from having to explain issues of mortality (the song deals with the final moments before the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash) but it also features some "daddy words" that I don't care to justify to a younger audience.
11 p.m. final selection: Perfect Day, Lou Reed
This is a tricky one. You want the final song you hear to be something great, but at the same time, relaxing and ready for imminent slumber. I chose a quiet track off Mr. Reed's evergreen Transformer album. It's just a perfect day/I'm glad I spent it with you. Perfect.
Submit you picks for perfect song/perfect time to email@example.com.