It was hot today, it was hot yesterday, forecast says the same tomorrow. Today is officially the first day of summer, never mind that the sun burns your skin in a minutes time, that Central Texas is fast becoming a desert and that in triple digit heat the natural inclination is to stay inside. If it's good for nothing else, the summer has inspired some great songs. Here's a collection of some of my favorites.
1. Here Comes the Summer-The Undertones- Short and sweet as always.
2. Little Honda-The Beach Boys- Go! "just a groovy little motorbike"
3. American Pie-The Brady Bunch- An upbeat, slightly ragged (almost punky) reading of the ponderous Don McLean song about the death of Buddy Holly and/or by extension rock n' roll. This easily outclasses the original on sheer energy (and brevity) alone, check out the studio drummer going for his, especially near the end. I never get tired of hearing the Brady Kids sing the opening "helter skelter in a summer swelter, the byrds flew off with the fall out shelter, eight miles high and falling fast". Maybe its my affection for the series itself but I find this version more sweet and sincere than the sanctimonious original.
Here I am with Maureen McCormick aka Marcia Brady.
4. She Don't Care About Time-The Byrds- following the Byrds reference above with a Byrds tune was a natch, no direct summer connection, but one of Gene Clark's greatest songs. The Byrds are for all seasons.
5. What A Beautiful Creature You Are- Donovan and Lulu- Donovan and Lulu studying each other, learning about the birds and the bees and finding much to like.
6. Summer Nights- Marianne Faithfull- The beautiful Marianne Faithfull!
7. Summer Song- Slade- Front if you want, but it's your loss because this is a great pop song.
Ev'rybody needs a by the sea affair
Where you get the urge from something in the air
Helter Skelter on a mat "Kiss me Quick" is on my hat
and you do it on the ghost train for a dare.
8. Are You Feeling Good?- Jonathan Richman- Unreleased Jonathan Richman from the early 1980's. Favorite line is the "aren't you still in debt? well debt-ah, but the debt can only make me get a little upset-ah". This would have appeared on the Jonathan Sings album from 1983.
9. In Brooklyn-Al Stewart- See? Not bad for the guy who gave you the year of the cat. Not clear on why he's "down on his knees in Brooklyn" sounds dirty though.
10. Summer's Cauldron- XTC- Skylarking was a special record for me as a kid, and I still remember the extreme let down of the record that followed it, which I haven't heard in years, maybe it wasn't so bad. But nothing beats the one two punch of the opening of Skylarking's Summer's Cauldron going directly into Grass. Todd Rundgren does have his uses.
11. Grass- XTC- Things we did on grass, indeed.
12. Summertime- Sam Cooke- Sam Cooke could sing the shit out of anything, but give him one of Gershwin's best and he really knocks it out the park. Nik Cohn was a great writer, but the fact that he didn't rate Sam Cooke always gave me serious pause.
13. Girls- Iggy Pop- Another great one from Iggy's late 70's Arista records period, specifically New Values a record I have championed here before. This is your typical dumb/smart Iggy lyric that he excelled at and he incorporates Summertime to boot.
14. 20th Century Fox- The Doors- One of my favorites from their debut, part of its appeal is that it hasn't gotten as much play as the rest of the first album. The Doors' Venice Beach origins are well documented, with Morrison spending the Summer of 1965 on Venice beach, taking acid daily, sleeping on the roof of an apartment building and composing the songs that he heard as a concert in his head. The apartment building is located at 12 Westminster Ave.Venice, CA 90291 and has apparently been renamed in his honor, here's a picture of the building.
15. Rooming House on Venice Beach-Jonathan Richman- One time hippie-phobe Jonathan recounts fondly the time he spent in the early 70's in a rooming house on Venice Beach. Particularly funny is the lyric about how "eerie" the local "followers of Watts and Leary" were. Nice beatnik vibe on this one. For a fun, if not exactly even handed, account of the dark side of 1960's mysticism check out former Blondie bass player Gary "Valentine" Lachman's book Turn Off Your Mind.
16. California Sun- The Rivieras- Covered by the Ramones and the Dictators, it's the archetypal California ode from an outsiders pov, the Rivieras were from Indiana. I've romanticized the west coast so much in my mind that I'm certain to be disappointed when I finally get there. In fact I think I'll just stay home, fuck 'em all, squares on both sides, as the man once said.
17. Things We Said Today- London Jazz 4- More bongos for your summer fun on this Beatle cover by the London Jazz 4.
18. Bummer in the Summer- Love- Dig the little Bo Diddley beat in the middle section.
19. Crossroads- Mike Tingley- No obvious summer connection here I just like the way it fit, and it signals the end is in sight.
20. Summer's Almost Gone- The Doors- early demo version from 1965 I believe.
21. Funny How Time Slips Away- Georgie Fame- our emergent theme of summer passing continues with this Willie Nelson cover by the great Georgie Fame, yeh yeh!
22. That Summer Feeling- Jonathan Richman- One of Jojo's greatest songs, might be his best, with a message that rings true and sums up the theme of the majority of his solo material. I don't think anyones music has helped me get through the bumps of life as much as Jonathan's, and I'm not talking about music as a distraction or diversion, but as serving up concrete good advice, inspiration and perspective on how to live. My favorite story concerning this song is how before a concert some fans drove by and saw Jonathan and stopped and started talking with him and he proceeded to serenade them with an a cappella version of That Summer Feeling.
23. Sun Will Follow- Pianosaurus- Lest you despair or get too nostalgic here's something to keep your spirits up.
24. Summertime- Billy Stewart- A song so nice it's on here twice, but this is a radically different reading from Sam Cooke's.
25. In the Summertime- Roger Miller- Not sure how I forgot to put this on the first time I posted this
mix, but its here now and better for it.
Have a nice summer y'all!