Friday, May 22, 2009

Holiday Weekend Listomania (Special Schvitzing in my Shorts Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental testicular chaperone energy policy consultant Fah Lo Suee and I will be spending a quiet Memorial Day weekend at home, engaged in nothing more than quiet self-contemplation and a few light snacks. So there will be no sniggering jokes at the expense of Sarah Palin or Michael Steele for at least another week.

In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a while.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

Best or Worst Post-Elvis Summer Song -- Which is To Say Either a Song About Summer or One With the Word Summer in the Title!!!

Self-explanatory, I think, and in the interest of holiday comity, I'm imposing absolutely no arbitrary rules of any kind.

And my totally top of my head Top Nine would be...

9. Two Live Jews -- Oy, It's So Humid!

"Doesn't Myrtle have air conditioning?" "What -- you mean Octagenarian Mutant Ninja Myrtle?..."

8. The Hollies -- Bus Stop

"Bus Stop, wet day, she's there, I say, please share my umbrella...All that summer we enjoyed it, wind and rain and shine..."

And don't tell me about that Rihanna "Umbrella" shit, because I don't want to hear about it. Deep thought: It occurs to me that this song has made even more appearances in these precincts than the Smashing Pumpkins.

7. The Smashing Pumpkins -- Summer

And speaking of which, it occurs to me that Billy Corgan's pretentious dyed-hair noggin has been absent from these precincts for far too long. Actually, a pretty nice song; no video, alas, but you can listen (and download) the thing by clicking the link above. Apparently, unlike with RapidShare, the authorization will never expire, which is a kind of frightening prospect.

6. The Jamies -- Summertime, Summertime

An arifact that has irked me since the late 50s. It's like a Chimpmunks record, but done straight. Or something. In any case, words can not express how annoying I think those harmonies are.

5. The Zombies -- Summertime

The Gershwin song, of course, and between Colin Blunstone's gorgeously breathy vocal and a brilliant Rod Argent piano solo pretty much my favorite take on the tune in the whole wide world. Honorable mention: Billy Stewart's r&b glossolalia version from a year later.

4. The Beach Boys -- Girl Don't Tell Me

"Hi, little girl, it's me -- don't you know who I am? I met you last summer when I came out to stay with my gran...."

From their 1965 pre-Pet Sounds masterpiece, and oddly, the most Beatle-esque record they ever made.

3. Chad and Jeremy -- A Summer Song

I only found out recently that they actually played all the beautiful guitar stuff on this one themselves; you'll see them do it in the performance at the end of the interview. Just as sweet and lovely a pop song as there is, so naturally, my crappy high school rock band used to sing it as "Planes, crashing into mountain sides, with the loss of many lives...."

2. Bananarama -- Cruel Summer

Because, frankly, you just can't have too much Bananarama, even with crappy synth drums.

And the most memorable summer song -- summer being defined as hot, sweaty and fly-infested -- obviously is....

1. Mick Farren -- Let's Loot the Supermarket Again (Like We Did Last Summer)

Typical first generation 70s Brit-punk snarl, although Farren himself had been through one or two too many youth cultures by the time he conned Stiff Records into releasing this. Not in itself a particularly fabulous record, but you gotta admit -- the title's brilliant.

Awrighty then -- what are your faves?

[Shameless Blogwhore: My parallel Cinema Listomania -- theme: best holiday flicks -- is now up over at Box Office. As always, if you could find it in your heart to head over there and leave some sort of desultory comment or other, it would help convince management that I'm worth the exorbitant freelance rate that has made me the envy of the film-crit business. Thank you.]


Brooklyn Girl said...

I can't believe you didn't nominate Bruce's "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" ... so I will!

steves said...

The first one that came to mind was "Summer in the City," followed closely by "Hot Fun in the Summertime" with Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime" placing third.

Never saw that hilarious Two Live Jews clip before. Thanks! (Alas, I've heard that Wolfie's has since closed.)

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

I'll shout out for Constructive Summer & raise a toast to St. joe strummer

cthulhu said...

The answer is obviously "Summertime Blues", particularly the incendiary live cover by the Who on Live at Leeds. How could you miss this one?

Peter said...

Apart from "Summertime Blues" (the original by Eddie Cochran, as well as The Who's high-octane version), I can think of only three:

"In The Summertime" by Mungo Jerry;
"In The Summertime" by Thirsty Merc; and
"Summer Love" by Sherbet.

Those last two are Australian so you may not have heard them before.

Incidentally, those two Australian efforts are both mentioned (warning: shameless plug alert) on my post A History of Power Pop in Australia.

Oh, I just thought of another song – even though it has absolutely no right being anywhere near a power pop blog: ABBA's "Our Last Summer".

steve simels said...

Who Am Us Anyway:

I would like to state for the record that I was going to make "Constructive Summer" my number one, but alas none of the videos on YouTube were any good.

Gummo said...

Some of my faves have already been mentioned, of course, esp. the Lovin' Spoonful.

Oy, It's So Humid is new to me too. Jews got rhythm, baybeeee!

How about a simultaneous best AND worst -- in other words a guilty pleasure from childhood -- "Summer Breeze" by Seals & Crofts?

And I second "Girls in their Summer Clothes", one of BS's most beautiful songs in a while.

Of course, some of the best summer songs weren't about summer, they were the songs that took over a summer and became intimately identified with it. For example, in the summer of '78, you couldn't go anywhere in New York City, from the Upper East Side to the barrio without hearing the Stones' "Miss You" blaring from every window, car radio and boombox. That song IS the summer of '78 to me.

Anonymous said...


True story -- summer of 78, the Stones played the Academy of Music on 14th street. They weren't terribly good, but I had critics seats and John Belushi was sitting in back of me and Paul McCartney in front, so I counted it a good evening.

Anyway, on my way out of the show, I was walking up 14th street to the subway, and a bum (did we call them homeless people then? I can't remember) came ambling down the block in the other direction, yelling at the top of his lungs "There's some Puerto Rican girls just DYIN' to meet-cha!"

Talk about cultural ubiquity.....

steve simels said...

Uh, that annonymous story about the Stones was me, obviously.

I regret the error.

Gummo said...

steve --

Sadly, that's something that has been mostly lost with the fracturing and niche-marketing of popular culture. It's almost impossible for a single song to capture a summer like that anymore.

And yeah, I saw the Stones in '78 and they were pretty bad that tour.

The next tour, in '81, with a newly-cleaned-up Keith, was incredible, though. That was the first time, I think, they used the cordless instruments, and they started the show with only Charlie on stage, pounding out the rhythm to Under My Thumb as the rest of the band came strolling out from backstage already playing....

NYMary said...

Summer of 79 was, of course, ruled by The Knack, for good or ill.

But steve, how could you have missed FOW's It Must Be Summer?

And the sun is beating me senseless/ I feel defenseless/Like a dying lamb.

Freakin' brilliant.

David said...

The song that always gets me swooning with the irrational exuberance of impending summer is "Summer" by War, with its slinky groove, guiro scrapes, lyrical piano, and evocative picture of laid-back heat-blurry days marked by ridin' round town with all the windows down, 8-tracks, and of course "rappin' on the CB radio in the van/Give a big 10-4 to the truckin' man..." Now excuse me whilst I put some zinc oxide on my nose...

NYMary said...

Oh, David reminds me of another great one!

I Wanna Be a Lifeguard

Anonymous said...

XTC's "Skylarking," in its entirety.

"Rockaway Beach" by the Ramones.

"Here Comes the Summer" by the Undertones.

"Too Hot" by the Specials.

msw said...

There's always Don Henley's The Boys of Summer.
Everytime I hear the song I think of a cold winter night at Atlanta's now defunct 688 club. Toward the end of their set The dbs started playing the guitar hook from the song, once the audience realized what Holsapple was up to they started booing wildly.
Which reminds me there's new Stamey and Holsapple CD due in June.By the way, don't tell anybody but summertime is here and it's time for dancing in the street!

Noam Sane said...

A. J. Croce, "Summer Can't Come Too Soon" - a powerpop diamond. Hear a snatch of it here. No YouTube vid available, unfortch.

I love those old Johnny Rivers singles. "Summer Rain," anyone?

I'll second "Skylarking" as a whole. "Drowning here in summer's cauldron...".

And while the Kink's "Sunny Afternoon" doesn't explicitly mention the season, try dialing it up on your IPod whilst sitting in the backyard hammock on a June afternoon, beer in hand. Perfection, dude.

glos·so·la·li·a (glôs-ll-, gls-)n.
1. Fabricated and nonmeaningful speech, especially such speech associated with a trance state or certain schizophrenic syndromes.

I learned a new word today.

CovetedNOPrizeWinnerWithOakLeafCluster said...

I second the Zombies. Colin is the best vocalist ever.

msw said...

I second Summer Rain, because it's a song that anticipates this blog post...

All summer long we were dancing in the sand,
Everybody just kept on playing,
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

Gummo said...

Ah, Skylarking, how could I forget.

One of the prettiest albums made by anybody anytime anywhere.

David said...

Skylarking surely begins in summer (the aforementioned "Summer's Cauldron" and the divine "Grass") but heads to chillier territory on "The Meeting Place" ("smoke on your breath"). Taken as a whole, t's really an all-season affair: Obviously "Season Cycle" supports that contention; "1000 Umbrellas" and "Ballet for a Rainy Day" feel like rainy springtime, and the ender, "Sacrificial Bonfire" feels like the end of the season. But there's no denying the genius behind it, and one could easily argue that it's their high-water mark (although I would say the trilogy of Drums and Wires, English Settlement, and Black Sea was the band's greatest stretch of divine-inspired music)...

ms. rosa said...

Love's 'Bummer In the Summer' because it sure is in the Texas heat!

Peter said...

Summer of '66 (the first time I saw a girl's breast) the song was "Red Rubber Ball" by the Cyrkle.

Libby Spencer said...

Funny, I was just thinking about Red Rubber Ball. That was THE song that defined the summer (of 68 I think, maybe 67) for me. It was on every transitor radio at the beach.

Anyway, most of mine are already taken but I'll add Loving Spoonful - Rain on the Roof (...caught up in a summer shower).

Summer's Almost Gone - Doors, even though I think Simels hates the Doors.

And while I don't think it even mentions the word, Under the Boardwalk by the Stones always shouts summer to me.

And reaching way back in the memory bank, Chubby Checker - Let's Twist Again (like we did last summer), Dancing in the Streets - Martha and the Vandellas and the song that defined the heartbreak of my first summer romance, Sealed with A Kiss by Brian Hyland although that's stretching to fit into power pop.

davepitt said...

Steve check out the 90s Boston girl group Fuzzy's cover of "Girl Don't Tell Me".

To bring it back around to Power Pop: 1 of the times I saw the Posies (on the acoustic tour around 2001) they opened with a cover of Fuzzy's "Christmas Song".

Gwen De Marco said...

The first summer song I remember is "Sealed with a Kiss" ... it may even be the first song I remembered all the words to.

geor3ge said...

Okay, I'ma bend the rules a bit.

Going with Janes Addiction's "Been Caught Stealing." It doesn't mention summer, but it evokes for me the glorious summer of '91 when I recently escaped 12 years of Catholic school hell and anticipated the new worlds college had to offer. That, and the gleeful anarchy of the song worked wonders on my sense of enforced piety.

John Fowler said...

lotsa great ones, but I would like to especially applaud:

Peter & Cthulhu on "Summertime Blues" (both named versions are great)
NYMary with "It Must Be Summer"
Libby Spencer with the very summer-y "Under the Boardwalk" (although I prefer the Drifters original)

And let me nominate:

the wall of sound that is Husker Du's "Celebrated Summer" from New Day Rising - (and I think this link is worth clicking)

the lovely "Summer of My Wasted Youth" by Amy Rigby, which I have from her 18 Again anthology

Big Star's "In The Street" and "Thirteen" off of #1 Record aren't explicitly summer, but they both seem to be set there (to me, at least)

and going way back (say, to 6 years old?) - Roger Miller with "In the Summertime". His is actually the first popular music that I can remember at all - my kid brother and I loved all the songs on his Greatest Hits. Funny voice, funny words, and simple, catchy tunes. Perhaps mostly dated now, but "King of the Road" still ranks up there with the great songs...

Marsupial said...

'Over the Summer' by Sparks. (Although they always say that the demos were better, I've never heard one, so I have to go with the track as released.)

steve simels said...

I would just like to say and for the record that I love every one of you guys for all sorts of reasons, but also because nobody nominated Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69."

God, I hate that song.

I remember when I heard that he was going to do the theme for the Kevin Costner "Robin Hood."

I turned to a friend and said "What's he gonna call it -- Summer of 1169?"

steve simels said...

davepitt said...
Steve check out the 90s Boston girl group Fuzzy's cover of "Girl Don't Tell Me".

I just did.


mwg said...

I was going to try to adamsroll you, but just finding the video for "Summer of 69" is just too painful.

Brooklyn Girl said...

And while the Kink's "Sunny Afternoon" doesn't explicitly mention the season, try dialing it up on your IPod whilst sitting in the backyard hammock on a June afternoon, beer in hand. Perfection, dude.It does, actually: "in the summertime ... in the summertime ... " :-)

Noam Sane said...

in the summertime ... in the summertimeDoh! you're right. Kinda sad, but I'm pushing 50 - so that's my excuse. Thanks BG, and keep off my lawn.

Yes, the inevitable "Summer of 69". There's a song on Brad Paisley's "Guitar Album" called "Start a Band" that is a much more fun take on the theme, a catchier tune with great guitar playing (naturally) and none of the bullshit self-mythologizing.

Doesn't mention summer though - I just listened to it to make sure. Take that!

Dave said...

I'm a little shocked that LFO's Summer Girls wasn't a unanimous choice. For those unfamiliar, please listen carefully to the lyrics:

Previous posters have chosen many of my picks, including Summer in the City, Sunny Afternoon, Sealed with a Kiss, and In the Summertime.
So here are some new ones:

The Fleetwood's "Graduation's Here" is one of the few pop songs with bittersweet feelings about the end of school and the beginning of summer. Genius:

"Under the Boardwalk" by the Stones? Eeek! The Drifters, please!

Can an instrumental with an ambiguous title be about summer? Sure. And even if the lyrics to the Friends of Distinction's version of "Grazing in the Grass" don't make it explicit, I don't care if summer is referenced directly in the song -- it's about that season between Spring and Fall.

One of the most romantic songs ever, the Tymes' "So Much in Love" (here's a live version with some weird production touches):

No one's going to convince me that "Summertime" didn't more than justify the existence of DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince: And there's something touching about a 23-year old with such feelings of loss and nostalgia.

Jerry Keller's "Here Comes Summer" I have to admit this doesn't hold up as well as most of the others from 40+ years ago, but I still like Keller's voice and it's my kind of video:

Thanks for the kudos for "Girl Don't Tell Me," Steve. Scratch any Beach Boys fan and you'll have a devotee of this song. Here are some covers:

I yield to no one in my love and appreciation for Collin Blunstone, but as this fantastic video demonstrates, Billy Stewart wears his pants much, much higher. This is clearly lip-synced, with some of the single intact, but also some other instrumental and vocal bits (including a terrific sax solo):

And to me, the two most mysterious songs in rock history are the Jaynette's "Sally Go Round the Roses," and "Brandy." The summer is an important part of the lyrical mix of the latter. I know Elliot Lurie works scoring and music supervising in movies and television. Does he still write songs? Did he ever compose anything else so wonderful?

And finally probably the most thoughtful song about summer ever, Jonathan Richman's "That Summer Feeling," which pretty much encapsulates JR's thematic post-punk concerns:
"And you boys long for some little girl that you dated
Do you long for her or for the way you were?
That summer feeling is gonna haunt you the rest of your life"

Here's a great live version:

NYMary said...

D'oh! How could we have forgotten Jonathan Richman?

(puts self in corner)

The Kenosha Kid said...

"Summer Love" from Grease.. hee hee hee

And, in regard to the Hollies "Bus Stop," were you aware it was written by a nice Jewish boy who also wrote "No Milk Today," "Heart Full of Soul," and "For Your Love?" (How is that for a hot streak?) Graham Gouldman, who ended up in 10CC.

Libby Spencer said...

For the record I have love the Drifters Under the Boardwalk too but the Stones cover was more a part of the soundtrack of my life.

MJConroy said...

"Steve check out the 90s Boston girl group Fuzzy's cover of "Girl Don't Tell Me". "

- Don't forget the Smithereens cover of it!

"I second the Zombies. Colin is the best vocalist ever."

-I'm hoping he sings it when I see the Zombies this summer!!

"And, in regard to the Hollies "Bus Stop," were you aware it was written by ...Graham Gouldman..."

-He also wrote the first record I ever bought- the Hollies "Look Through Any Window".

To add to the list- I've been listening to "Summertime Bruce" an (ahem, unofficial) recording of Springsteen at the Cleveland Agora which opens with Summetime Blues.

Also, I senond with a big "oh yeah", Sly's "Hot Fun in the Summertime":

And Dave Edmunds cover of Summertime:

steve simels said...

And finally probably the most thoughtful song about summer ever, Jonathan Richman's "That Summer Feeling," which pretty much encapsulates JR's thematic post-punk concerns:
"And you boys long for some little girl that you dated
Do you long for her or for the way you were?
That summer feeling is gonna haunt you the rest of your life"

Here's a great live version:
The things people turn me on to around here.

Didn't know that one -- thanks so much.

Noam Sane said...

I haven't worked through all the links yet, but that Edmunds version of Summertime is devastating. Wow.

Thanks MJ.

Peter said...

remember when I heard that he was going to do the theme for the Kevin Costner "Robin Hood."

I turned to a friend and said "What's he gonna call it -- Summer of 1169?"

That's fuckin hilarious....

Dave said...

Oh, I forgot my favorite recording Bruce Johnston was ever associated with: Terry Melcher and his collaboraion on "Summer Means Fun":

When's the next bus to Oswego? said...

does anyone read these a week after the start date? here's hoping...

one recent summer hit that was The Song That Defined The Summer, at least imo:

'crazy,' by gnarls barkley.
your perfect lilting, catchy, and even kinda danceable summer song.

that blues traveler song, 'run-around,' was kinda like that, too.

the boss has got to be the post-1970 king of summer songs. aside from all of 'the wild, the innocent, and the e street shuffle,' and perfect summer confections like 'paradise by the c,' 'sherry darling' and 'dancing in the dark,' there's these ones with the word itself-

racing in the street (part three of the 'summer's here and the time is right...' trilogy, after martha and the vandellas' 'dancing in the street' and the stones' 'street fighting man,' which i believe the boss has covered live)

backstreets ('one soft infested summer')

adam raised a cain ('in the summer i was baptized')

blinded by the light ('indians in the summer')

seaside bar song ('something about a pretty girl on a sweet summer night')

other artists--

cars- touch and go ('like a hot summer night')

thin lizzy - the boys are back in town ('won't be long till summer comes...)

kinks - end of the season ('summer birds aren't singing')

stones - paint it black ('i see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes')

stones - loving cup ('in the sweet summer sun')

the slickee boys - when i go to the beach

paul westerberg - first glimmer ('an indian summer')

raspberries - drivin around ('when school lets out, and the summer's here')