Calendrical Songs

I take very seriously my responsibilities as Convivium's self-appointed musical consultant,
and present herewith several songs that bear upon John's Seasons of Our Lives Question.
They may remind you of others that would be fruitful to consider,
or that have been especially meaningful in your several lives.

Steeleye Span version of The January Man
(originally written by Mike Harding)

... and Christy Moore's version:

The January man he goes around in woollen coat and boots of leather
The February man still shakes the snow from of his clothes and blows his hands
The man of March he sees the Spring and wonders what the year will bring
And hopes for better weather.
Through April rain the man goes down to watch the birds come in to share the summer
The man of May stands very still to watch the children dance away the day
In June the man inside the man is young and wants to lend a hand
And smiles at each new comer.
In July the man in cotton short he sits and thinks and being idle
The August man in thousands takes the road to find the sun and watch the sea
September man is standing near to saddle up another year
And Autumn is his bridle
The man of new October takes the rain and early frost is on his shoulder
The poor November man sees fire and mist and wind and rain and winter ere
December man looks through the snow to let eleven brothers know
They're all a little older
The January man he comes around again in coat and boots of leather
To take another turn and walk along the icy roads he knows so well
The January man is here the start of each and every year
Along the road forever


The Watersons. Frost and Fire: A Calendar of Ritual and Magical Songs (1965)
(the whole album, which has been with me forever)


Try to Remember from The Fantastiks (1965)

Try to remember the kind of September,
When life was slow and oh so mellow.
Try to remember the kind of September,
When grass was green and grain was yellow.
Try to remember the kind of September,
When you were a tender and callow fellow.
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow (follow) follow (follow) follow
Try to remember when life was so tender,
That no one wept except the willow,
Try to remember when life was so tender,
That dreams were kept beside your pillow.
Try to remember when life was so tender,
That love was an ember about to billow,
Try to remember, and if you remember,
Then follow (follow) follow
(Follow, deep in December it's nice to remember,
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.)
Deep in December it's nice to remember,
The fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December our heart's should remember,
And follow (follow) follow (follow) follow


Frank Sinatra in the Studio: It Was a Very Good Year (1965)
(There's something very creepy here, 60 years later...)

When I was seventeen
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls
And soft summer nights
We'd hide from the lights
On the village green
When I was seventeen

When I was twenty-one
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for city girls
Who lived up the stair
With all that perfumed hair
And it came undone
When I was twenty-one

When I was thirty-five
It was a very good year
It was a very good year for blue-blooded girls
Of independent means
We'd ride in limousines
Their chauffeurs would drive
When I was thirty-five

But now the days are short
I'm in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year


Nina Simone covers Turn Turn Turn


Trying for something a bit less obvious than mapping 'seasons' onto spring-summer-fall-winter,
I fell via google into some new-agey, self-helpy, and crypto-Christian expositions of seasonality:

The Four Seasons of Life - How to Adapt & Thrive (

How to Successfully Transition Through the Seasons of Change (

6 Spiritual Seasons of Life (and How to Flourish in Them) (

I also came across 20 Quotes about Embracing All the Seasons of Life (,
some of which may resonate. Some examples:

Be aware of what season you are in and give yourself the grace to be there. (Kristen Dalton)

Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry—all forms of fear—are caused by too much future, and not enough presence.
Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness
are caused by too much past, and not enough presence. (Eckhart Tolle)


And here's Lena Horne's last album, "Seasons of a Life"


Back to that 23.4° tilt of the Earth's axis, relative to the Plane of the Ecliptic:

It's not the temperature, as they say: it's the obliquity. And yet, the connection with winter weather and decreasing temperatures is very real.

At this point, you may be wondering what on Earth I am writing about, and in fact, you would be very close to answering your own question. Our planet Earth is tilted, or rather, the Earth's axis of rotation is tilted with respect to the ecliptic, and the degree of tilt is referred to as obliquity. If you're wondering what that means, it means that an imaginary line drawn between the north and south poles would make an angle of 23.4 degrees (actually, 23.43696 degrees) with an imaginary plane that describes the Earth's orbit. But these imaginary constructs have very real consequences. Only a tilted planet has seasons, and seasons, while not a prerequisite for life, tend to moderate planetary climates and homogenize, so to speak, climatic extremes. At the very least, seasons make life on Earth more widespread and diverse. Right now, the south-pole end of the Earth's axis points towards the Sun. In three months, the axis will point along a line tangent to the Earth's orbit. In six months, the north-pole end of the axis will tilt right at the Sun, and so forth.

The Earth got tilted fairly early on in its formation, probably as the result of some proto-planet slamming into it, disturbing its rotation and its orbit as well. This type of event almost certainly occurred more than once, and one of these collusions was so violent that a large chunk of our planet was detached, and eventually became our moon. (These family histories get complicated.) Changes in the direction of the axis, and changes in the earth's orbit, have resulted in the angle of obliquity varying between 22.1 degrees and 24.5 degrees every 41,000 years. Right now, the angle of obliquity is getting smaller (hence the title.) We're about halfway through the downward cycle, according to my rough calculations...



And what of the other planets? Just how strange are they?

This table (from shows the obliquity of the nine planets. Obliquity is the angle between a planet's equatorial plane and its orbital plane. By International Astronomical Union (IAU) convention, a planet's north pole lies above the ecliptic plane. By this convention, Venus, Uranus, and Pluto have a retrograde rotation, or a rotation that is in the opposite direction from the other planets. The following table lists the obliquity and rotation period of each of the planets.

Obliquity Rotation Period (hrs)
Mercury 0.1°1407.5
Venus 177.4° 5832.5
Earth 23.45° 23.9345
Mars 25.19° 24.623
Jupiter 3.12° 9.925
Saturn 26.73° 10.656
Uranus 97.86° 17.24
Neptune 29.56° 16.11
Pluto 119.6° 153.29