Sounds of Summer: Songs for the homesick

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail
Gazette-Mail intern Caity Coyne presents songs of longing for friends and places this week for “Sounds of Summer.”

This week’s “Sounds of Summer” comes from Gazette-Mail intern Caity Coyne, a California transplant who comes to Charleston by way of West Virginia University.

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About four years ago, my dad and I packed up our car in San Diego, where I grew up, and drove to Morgantown so I could start my freshman year of college at WVU.

West Virginia has become my home.

I usually get back to the West Coast twice a year, but this summer marks the longest stretch of time I’ve spent away from San Diego and the friends I’ve surrounded myself with for nearly a decade.

West Virginia holds a special place in my heart. I wouldn’t be who I am today without the experiences and people I’ve met first in Morgantown, and now Charleston.

But it’s nearly impossible to not feel homesick, missing the people who gave me the courage to move to a strange new place and start a new life at 18.

Sometimes that feeling hits a little harder than usual, so I chose songs that help me in those times and remind me of the people who know me better than anyone else.

Everyone misses someone or something. I hope you can relate to at least a few of these tunes.

“This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)” Talking Heads

This ’80s gem is one of the Talking Heads’ very few love songs, and it shines through its simplicity.

With just four chords and a little eccentricity, the easy lyrics have made it a modern dream for covers by some of my other favorite bands.

For me, this song is about the ability to make any place feel like “home,” no matter where you are: “Home is where I want to be / but I guess I’m already there.”

“Old Friends/New Friends” Pinegrove

These are two different songs, both by Pinegrove, but I group them together since one (“New Friends”) is a direct response to the other (“Old Friends”).

Evan Hall, the band’s frontman, is a melodic dream and gifted storyteller.

I saw him live last summer with a good friend, and since then, these songs have been ingrained in my brain.

“Old Friends” talks about remembering where you’re from and the struggles of growing up away from there, while reminding the listener to cherish the things that made them who they are: “I should call my parents when I think of them / should tell my friends when I love them,” a line that serves as a lesson for anyone.

“New Friends” is about moving to that new place, making new friends and growing up, with gentle reminders to take risks — “What’s the worst that could happen?”

“Coins” Local Natives

A friend at home recommended this song. The smooth rhythm contrasting with vocalist Taylor Rice’s soulful “oohs” and impressive range are just some of the hundreds of reasons to love this song.

It’s about being away from someone you love and the toll it takes. The bridge is one of my favorite musical samples in anything I’ve heard in the last five years. The frustration of the lyrics comes across so well through Rice, with an idea that could resonate with anyone: “Sometimes / oh you know it feels like / we’re on the same side of different coins.”

“Billions of Eyes” Lady Lamb

Another example of superb storytelling.

There are — in singer Aly Spaltro’s words — “a lot of lyrics,” and it works. This song goes a little bit of everywhere, all the while thinking of the “billions of eyes all looking at something different at the same time,” which is a sobering thought no matter what you’re doing.

Spaltro’s melodic voice drifts through creative metaphors you can’t help but relate to: the sense of comradery between strangers as she makes a train at the last minute (“for a millisecond we share a look like a family does, like we have inside jokes, like we could call each other by little nicknames”) and wanting to fall into a pile of warm laundry. Because who doesn’t have days like that?

“Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” Cold War Kids

This song comes off the album of the same name, a concept album inspired by one of my favorite novels, Nathanael West’s “Miss Lonelyhearts.”

Cold War Kids vocalist Nathan Willett has one of the most hauntingly beautiful voices in modern music. This song gave me one of the mottos I live by when things get hard: “The good times never call on you unless you call on them, too.” AKA: stop wallowing in feeling bad.

It’s a bit slow, and sort of an acquired taste if you’re not into abstract music, but it’s worth a listen (and so is everything else composed by this group).

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