“Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most”—song for a Sunday

Ah, jazz. The chromatic melody lines. The cool-cat diction. The unexpected sentiments. All of them abundantly present in the classic, “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.”

Wikipedia will tell you that Fran Landesman‘s lyrics begin with a riff on the opening line of T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland:

April is the cruelest month

Wikipedia is—to use a writer’s technical term here—full of shit.

Yes, April does make an appearance, mid-song:

Now it’s April. Love is just a ghost.

And, yes, love’s disappearance can be cruel indeed. But as I believe Shakespeare said, “One shared noun doth not a ‘riff’ make.”

Still, the two poems share a contrarian attitude toward spring. Most people celebrate the promise of warmer weather and the (literally) greener pastures it brings. Landesman’s richly detailed lyrics evoke something deeper than melancholy. Perhaps even despair. Or maybe that’s just my personal relation to the subject at the moment.

I had decided to bring you a spring song today, it being spring and all. But I woke up in my rented “urban cabin” in the back of a parking lot to the dulcet tones of a snowplow clearing my front yard. Spring? Ah, but Fran Landesman knows the feeling exactly. The final stanza of her masterpiece:

All alone, the party’s over
Old man winter was a gracious host.
But when you keep praying
for snow to hide the clover,
Spring can really hang you up the most.

Here’s the divine Ella Fitzgerald doing justice to every syllable of the lyric. Sadly, I can’t embed the video. But it’s worth a click—I promise.

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