I hate the summer. I hate the heat, I hate the humidity, I hate the pressure to have fun, I hate the sand-in-an-hourglass frenzy of it all. I hate summer movies and the crowds of people at outdoor events. I do like the tomatoes. But ever since it dawned on me that grown-ups don’t get summer vacation, I have not seen the reason for the season.
Apparently there’s a sort of SAD that affects some people in the sun. Something about the sun flips a switch in their brains so that, just as everyone else is at their happiest, they’re miserable. I don’t know about me—although the heat is a migraine trigger. But I do go strange in the heat. I’m not just cranky but furious and spiky, able at any moment to erupt in scornful rage. It is exciting, but tiring, too, like a summer film overlarded with special effects.
But even I will concede that certain things belong only to the warm-weather months. Case in point: the music of Erasmo Carlos, the Brazilian singer-songwriter.
This seasonal appeal doesn’t hold for Carlos himself, presumably. He plays—and lives—year-round. But his work, especially the seventies tracks, are a treat I reserve for summer.
It’s not just that the music of the Jovem Guarda movement evokes a sultry Brazil. (Although it does.) Or that the mellifluous pop rock and lilting lyrics suggest fun, dancing, and relaxation. (Although that’s true, too. And even the more contemplative albums, like Sonhos e Memórias, say “summer” to me.)
My brother first introduced me to Carlos’s music one June day many years ago. The song was “26 Anos de Vida Normal,” a na-na inflected ode to … well, I don’t know what, exactly. But with its lush string arrangements and over-the-top flute and synthesizer lines, it sounded suitably sun-drenched. Driving with my brother, a warm breeze blowing through the windows, in rare good health and feeling young and selfish and happy, I knew for a short moment what summer can be.
Sadie Stein is contributing editor of The Paris Review, and the Daily’s correspondent.