Gardening can be a deeply therapeutic quest, a boon to mental health – or so I’m told, because I’ve done little of it. In theory, this creates a self-reliant environment for stress relief, providing material benefits and a bit of physical exertion along the way.
But maybe the quiet sounds of nature aren’t enough for you. Maybe the chirping of birds and the rustling of the wind through the leaves isn’t enough, and you want to motivate yourself to plant with closely matched musical selections. If so, I’ve got some perfect plant-themed picks for you — and to up the ante, I won’t even use any of the myriad songs with “rose” in the title.
It’s about as basic as it gets to start the playlist, both in terms of title and musical content. “Leaves” is a crisp little indie pop song carried by a simple but satisfying acoustic guitar riff and a chanting chorus – pretty standard. But this tune has its fair share of tricks – like the gardening itself (I can only guess) – including when a repeated electric guitar phrase turns into a dynamic, unexpected solo that carries the song in its chorus. final.
I promise I didn’t choose to compile a gardening-themed playlist just to include my most-played song of the year so far, which is explicitly about gardening and has its main character “armed with ‘a watering can, dreaming of the greenest fields’. It’s just a happy accident. Let’s also ignore the fact that “green hands” isn’t a real phrase – it’s “green thumb” in the US and “green fingers” in the UK
If you’re confused by the naming convention of this song, you’re not the only one – I still have a hard time understanding it after listening to this band for over five years. At first it seems like every song on the “Rumspringa” album has a city stamped on its name, which would be nice, except 1) one of the songs has the confusing title “Chicago (Chicago)” and 2) the The album features both Minneapolis A and Minneapolis B, except B comes first. With all the confusion, it’s no surprise that the relatively uncontroversial “Honeysuckle (Milwaukee)” became the album’s biggest hit.
I am arrows
No, you have not received an SMS. The opening note of mallet percussion about 20 seconds into this song happens to share timbre and pitch with the ubiquitous text tone of the iPhone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this album, “Sun Comes Up Again”, in the background, and I’ve been pulled out of some sort of daydream by that searing sound. Maybe not the most soothing selection for gardening, but the rest of the song is so solid it makes up for that.
One of the good things about lyrical ambiguity – plus Roland Barthes’ “La mort de l’auteur” theory, though I doubt the French literary critic intended it to be applied in the context of a horticultural playlist – is that I have no idea what the word “Mayflower” means in the context of this Diane Coffee song. It could be the ship that brought the pilgrims or it could be the trailing arbutus flower, which is enough for me to include here.
Matt Mays, El Torpedo
I always love a song where it’s clear the artists had a brilliant idea and built everything around it. In the case of “Tall Trees,” that idea is the central, descending, incredibly catchy guitar riff that carries the melody from start to finish. You can almost tell how eager the group is to get back to crocheting as often and in different ways as possible. I found it to be a great song for walking, and it should also be good for gardening.
It’s a criminally underrated song from the criminally underrated album “Ode to Sunshine,” which helped kick off more than a decade of great work by this San Diego-based band. You probably don’t want to see a strange vine in your garden, but you’ll be happy to see “Strange Vine” at the end of your gardening playlist.
Journalist Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.