Friday, July 25, 2014

Summer Songs Of Yesteryear

Black Velvet 

Think back in time to a hot August night, when one song seemed to dominate the airwaves. Every time you turned on the radio, the song played in heavy rotation. Whether you went to a shopping mall, ate dinner at a restaurant or met friends at a favorite watering hole, you heard the song. It played so much, the song triggers your memories of the day and how you spent the summer. Perhaps you grew up with classic rock radio, so the song could be from any decade. Or, the song you heard time and again could be off a CD or cassette that a relative or friend played endlessly in the car while on a road trip with you as their hostage ... um passenger. 

Here are a few flashbacks to get the discussion going. (Songs not uploaded, have links; just click to play them.)

1. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor - will always remind me of being let loose in Washington, DC and exploring all that DC, Georgetown and the surrounding area have to offer: art, music, history and amazing food with adventurous, fun-loving partners-in-crime. It was my first trip to Washington, DC. Not that I'm a lush now, but I didn't drink then. 

"Tiger! tiger! buring bright ... In the forest of the night, ...When the stars threw down their spears, And watered heaven with their tears, Did he smile his work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee?"

2. Black Velvet (top video) - Alannah Myles - a gorgeous, bluesy tune from a Canadian singer-songwriter with a smokin' voice. Reminds me of weekends spent in Manhattan's East Village over a hot, muggy summer. By the way, Ms. Myles captures the appeal of a hot Southern night, as well as, the slow Southern style to a "t."

3. The Final Countdown - Europe - Bender put the song on a list of "Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever," and I agree. Eurotrash, perhaps? Plus, over the top fun! Another summer with friends checking out the downtown club scene.

4. Superstition - Stevie Wonder - M-o-t-o-w-n, enough said. Last summer (2013) Stevie performed it in Central Park. Envision a dark night, the park lights, a cool breeze ... and families dancing to the beat on the Great Lawn.

5. Magic Man - Heart - I heard Ann and Nancy Wilson sing this for the first time on FM radio in my parents' living room (where I spent many hours over a summer break). And, I took note: Girls sounding heavy metal! They were captivating. Decades later, they were asked to perform Stairway To Heaven for Led Zeppelin at the Kennedy Center Honors (2012). Imagine the pressure to sing such a signiture song! Ann's voice has gotten deeper (as has Robert Plant's), but with her power cords, Jason Bonham's drums, a capable guitarist and two backing choirs, she pulls it off to great excitement! And if you listen very hard, Ann hits all the notes.

6. Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles - Bless classic rock radio where 80s songs never die.
7. The Weight - The Band - My Dad introduced me to The Band, a blend of rock, country and blues. I wonder what summer memories the song held for him? In this Martin Scorsese directed rendition, the Staple Family interject gospel and soul.

8. Space Oddity - David Bowie - My cousin was obsessed with David Bowie (because um ... boys); consequently, I heard this song a lot over a summer. To this day, my Coz is a huge Bowie fan. So I believe his children also know it, note-for-note.

9. Ghostbusters - Ray Parker, Jr. - Remember the movie and later its sequel? The song was popular all summer long. The films are still delightful to watch:

Bill Murray : "I didn't choose anything! ... Did you! ... Did you!"
Harold Ramis: "LOOOK! ... R-a-y, what did you do?"
Dan Aykroyd: "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man."

STUMP, STUMP, STUMP ...

10. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson - I worked at MTV for awhile, and at every big company party I attended, you could always count on two things: 1) hearing this song and; 2) being served all the sushi you could eat. The song also reminds me of those summer breaks spent listening to FM radio in my parents' living room.

11. Somebody That I Used To Know - Gotye (featuring Kimbra) - An indie pop ballad that's been going strong for several summers. The mega hit continues to play on the radio, in stores and at parties.
12. Counting Stars - One Republic - Catchy tune from the band's 2013 album. I'm hearing it plenty this summer. I love when a man sings a few high notes. [The best example of a true falsetto is A-Hah's classic, Take On MeA listener waits for that high note. By the way, isn't A-Hah a chiseled-cheekbone-blessed band?]

When compiling song lists, you inevitably leave off so many possibilities ... like huge hits from the catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and rock and roll greats. Each could comprise a solo list. Lynyrd Skynard's Freebird is another candidate.

But now it's your turn: What are your songs of summer?

You may also enjoy:
Guilty Pleasure Songs

4 comments:

  1. Probably every summer in my life, some good- some bad, has been linked to some song or another- this year, I've spent June and July in Florida, hopefully not August. Florida has great country music stations for bopping around in the car, unlike New York. But, Billy Currington aside ("Good Directions"- where the boy gets the girl at the end), I am thinking back to a great beach summer, 1988- Long Island and Outer Banks- when Belinda Carlisle had a big hit with "Circle in the Sand".

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  2. I hope other people will post but this excellent topic has aroused all my emotions. There is a song called "All Summer Long" from the Beach Boys, 1962, which I found out about 11 years later, in 1973, when it was in "American Grafitti"- which glorified car culture. These days, I do Florida and coastal Carolina car culture, mainly listening to country music. Billy Currington, mentioned in my earlier post, has a song out in summer 2014 called "I'm Pretty Good at Drinking Beer". Also, this year, someone called Dierks Bentley has a song called "Drunk on a Plane" which hits some good chords. And, reprising 2011 (just like Currington's "Good Directions"), the CW deejays are playing Blake Shelton's "Honey Bee" (....you be my little Loretta....I'll be your Conway Twitty....) It is too late to post links, but anything from me can be found easily on You Tube.

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  3. Jane Leslie WellingtonJuly 26, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    I love all your uploaded songs. They would make a great party compilation. Brings back fond memories.

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  4. Where's a "like" button? Thanks folks for commenting.

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