Summertime Songs

From musicals like Porgy & Bess, and Grease, to pop songs through every decade, summer songs create, or re-create feelings of freedom, ease, love – especially young love with all that angst and yearning – and even if the heat and humidity are hard to take in the moment, I look back fondly to sticky summer nights spent hanging out with my group of friends, skinny-dipping in the river, or pool-hopping around the neighborhood, with or without permission…

Songs heard in my youth stir me more deeply than newer summer-themed tunes, or even old ones newly discovered. Those tunes center me in time and place unlike most anything else in my life.

The following links worked at this posting, but you can always search the song names yourself if any links become broken.  Perhaps a few are already in your play list!

George Gershwin’s, Summertime, an aria in 1935’s, Porgy and Bess, evokes a haunting sweetness of that which is hoped for, however unattainable, for the impoverished Bess singing to her baby.

Another “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, from 1991, breathes summer’s relative freedom, and speaks to slowing down and enjoying summer’s romantic possibilities.

Eddie Cochran told us there’s no cure for the “Summertime Blues” in his 1958 rockabilly number, referring to his having to work and not getting to be with his girlfriend or friends all out having fun.

The Drifters’ trill about their relaxing seaside summer in 1964’s: Under The Boardwalk.  You can feel summer’s heat, smells, sights, and sounds, while taking a chance at falling in love near the surf, away from the boardwalk’s crowds.

1966’s, Summer in the City, by The Lovin’ Spoonful, brings you into the city’s grit and grime from the first guitar strains just as Under The Boardwalk conveys a carnival feel from the start.  And while the city heat shimmers off the asphalt, a cooler breeze and romance prevail at night.

Juxtapose that with, In the Summertime, by Mungo Jerry, 1970’s bubble-gum ditty, where finding a date was summer’s full-time pursuit – and dig the mutton chops, man!:

The late 1960’s and early 1970’s released several songs intoning summer’s graces and privileges for young and old alike.  Several appeared in the summer of 1972.

Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze, is more folk than pop, and makes me want to lie under my favorite maple watching the leaves sway and hush each other in the warm breezes.

Saturday in the Park, Chicago’s ode to summer, also invokes a festival atmosphere, celebrating old-time holiday conviviality with street vendors and singers.

Alice Cooper’s, School’s Outbrought harder rock and attitude to summer’s opening, and remains one of my top summer songs:

Hot Fun In the Summertime, 1969’s summer hit by Sly and The Family Stone, also speaks to freedom from school in a mellow blues style, just as memorable for its ease and friendliness as Alice Cooper’s is for its ‘screw you’ ethos.

Flash forward to 1977 and The Ramones punking out with Rockaway Beachanother of their non-stop, driving beats insistent on another popular summer pursuit, days at the beach.

I don’t think Sandy Olsson from, Grease, would have been as attracted to one of the Ramones as much as she was to Danny Zuko, because meeting him on the beach was more like a Beach Boys’ dream song than the tough guy he portrayed in front of his friends, confusing poor Sandy.  But, oh, what fun they had in those Summer Nights:

Sandy Olsson could have used Bananarama’s pop tune, Cruel Summer, to console her, but 1983 was too far in the future for the 1950’s character, and besides, it wouldn’t have been broody enough for our melancholy Sandy.  Many of us with broken hearts related to their pop ballad while we danced away our sad summer nights.

A year later, in 1984, Don Henley rocked out smoothly with
The Boys of Summer, crooning his heart out about the girl who got away – while those mean girls kept walking – pushing their Wayfarers a bit further up on their pretty little noses.

While this list isn’t in any particular order, excepting its mostly chronological look at summer songs, no list would be complete without Bryan Adams’, Summer of ’69the youth rockers ode and anthem – finding belonging, following a passion – both in love and artful expression, and the sweet remembrance of summers past.

Make sure you add your favorite summer songs and why you like them in the comments!

Cheers, happy writing, and happy Summer 2016!

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Writing 101, Day Three: Three Meaningful Songs

“In My Own Little Corner”, from Rogers & Hammerstein’s, Cinderella, was one of the first songs I remember relating to:

I’m as mild and as meek as a mouse
When I hear a command I obey.
But I know of a spot in my house
where no one can stand in my way.
In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be.
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
and the world will open its arms to me.
I’m a young Norwegian princess or a milkmaid
I’m the greatest prima donna in Milan
I’m an heiress who has always had her silk made
By her own flock of silkworms in Japan
I’m a girl men go mad for love’s a game I can play with
cool and confident kind of air.
Just as long as I stay in my own little corner
All alone in my own little chair.
I can be whatever I want to be.
I’m a slave from Calcutta I’m a queen in Peru.
I’m a mermaid dancing upon the sea
I’m a huntress on an African safari.. it’s a dangerous type of sport and yet it’s fun
In the night I sally forth to seek my quarry
And I find I forgot to bring my gun.
I am lost in the jungle all alone and unarmed when I meet a lioness in her lair
Then I’m glad to be back in my own little corner,
All alone in my own little chair.

Even though I knew the song was a fantasy, I became aware that someone else felt like me, and I learned how to compartmentalize my feelings.  Cinderella saw herself in many adventures and I wanted that too.  That version of Cinderella helped me believe it was alright to dream, even when you couldn’t escape your situation.  The song has popped into my head several times throughout my life, always buoying me up enough to keep going, but it has never had the revelatory effect on me that first hearing had.

Along the same lines, Nazareth’s, Love Hurts, and Elton John’s, Sad Songs, saw me through break-ups and other heartaches along my life’s journey, Dan McCafferty belting out love’s wounds, and becoming jaded: “…Some fool’s think of happiness, blissfulness, togetherness.  Some fools fool themselves I guess, they’re not fooling me.  I know it isn’t true, I know it isn’t true; love is just a lie, meant to make you blue.  Love hurts“, while Elton John sings not only of suffering’s universality, but of enjoying wallowing for a while:

Guess there are times when we all need to share a little pain
And ironing out the rough spots
Is the hardest part when memories remain
And it’s times like these when we all need to hear the radio
`Cause from the lips of some old singer
We can share the troubles we already know

Turn them on, turn them on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on

They reach into your room
Just feel their gentle touch
When all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much

If someone else is suffering enough to write it down
When every single word makes sense
Then it’s easier to have those songs around
The kick inside is in the line that finally gets to you
and it feels so good to hurt so bad
And suffer just enough to sing the blues…

And while it was three songs, lest you think I’m always wallowing, there’s no other feel good, kick-ass song like Katrina & The Waves’, Walkin’ On Sunshine:

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.