Wednesday, August 29, 2012

End of Summer Rerun

[Edited slightly, first appeared in 2009]

It must be summer, cause the days are long...

It's too hot to be completely coherent... so here we go...

I've seen quite a few blog posts this past week about the best songs from the summer of 2009. Out of dozens of different songs posted, I think I've heard one or two. This depresses me (and not just because it's yet another sign that I'm not as hip as I was -- or at least as I thought I was).

Back when people listened to the radio all the time, you couldn't get away from certain summer songs -- they were everywhere and they served as an unconscious soundtrack to the time. (This isn't a post about that, because... well, even if I could be bothered, the catchiest thing I've heard all summer is the jingle on that stupid Accu-Chek Nano commercial.)

Rather than dwelling on songs from this summer (or the best summer sons of all time), here's a list of my favorite songs that have the word "Summer" in their titles.

5. The Lovin' Spoonful -- "Summer in the City"
An edgier sound (well, edgy's a relative term with the Lovin' Spoonful) that brings me back to growing up on the east coast with 90% humidity that makes you sweat through every last stitch of clothing. (And dig the funky "promo film" or what the kids today call a "rock video.")

My first apartment after college had no air conditioning and I remember one night coming home after work and finding the temperature inside was over 100 degrees. So naturally I sat in the tub for a long time listening to an oldies radio station (which played this song twice in the same hour).

4. B-52s -- "Summer of Love"
It might be hard to imagine now, but for a few shining moments, the B-52s were rock stars.

Or maybe they weren't rock stars, they were rock lobsters.

3. The Ataris -- "Boys of Summer"
The Ataris kick Don Henley's song up a notch, from the great So Long Astoria album.

Some would argue that changing the lyric "Deadhead sticker" to "Black Flag sticker" destroys the irony of the song, but I'd argue that just having that argument is (in itself) ironic.

2. Ben Folds Five -- "Where's Summer B"
(Sound is a bit tinny on this video) From the first Ben Folds Five album, a perfect amazing slice of power pop that emerged so fully formed and so completely out of touch with what was popular at the time.

A friend from work gave me a cassette tape of this when it first came out; she said she thought I'd really like it. Knowing her musical taste, I assumed it would suck and didn't listen to it for several months. When I finally listened, I didn't stop listening to it for several months after that. It's just that good. (And still sounds great today.)

1. Fountains of Wayne -- "It Must Be Summer"
(Again, sound's not great on the video, but you get the idea). From the great album Welcome Interstate Managers, a great example of the I'm-chasing-this-girl-and-she's-oblivious sub-genre of power pop.

Although, come to think of it, if you get rid of the I'm-chasing-this-girl-and-she's-oblivious sub-genre, half of rock 'n' roll would vanish into the ether.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Under Mats of Flower Lava

Kids are going back to school already.

Long before Labor Day.

In the time of year when we would have tried to squeeze a few last adventures from the waning days of summer.

In the time of year when we would have cursed the "back to school" flyers that started to appear -- seemingly earlier and earlier every year.

Wanting those long days of warmth. The sound of friends laughing. Everything on the move.

The knowledge that it was ending adding an urgency to whatever we did.

And the certainty -- which we'd later recognize as a lie -- that we'd always have the chance to do it all again the next summer.

None of this seems right.

But I can't do anything about it.

All I can offer you is this:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Twin Sons of Different Songwriters

Sitting Alone with Time to Reflect On All That's Come To Pass

This goes back around 10 years.

Okay, 11 years. And 9 years.

So it goes back an average of 10 years.

Squeeze broke up. Again.

But this time, it looked permanent. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford stopped speaking to each other.

And Tilbrook wrote a bunch of songs without Difford and put out a great little album called The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook... which included this:

Two years after that, Chris Stamey of the dBs released a pretty great album called Travels in the South, that contained this song:

I didn't hear either of these songs when they first came out. I wouldn't hear them until a few years later, when I discovered both of these albums on the same day.

And they both were revelations. Fantastic albums by songwriters that came out decades after they first burst onto the scene.

Fantastic albums that would've been huge in a better universe.

Albums that should have sold millions.

But albums that relatively few people heard.

And more than that... these songs are basically the same.

Yeah, they sound nothing alike. And their lyrics are totally different.

But they both look at the intense longing of memory. And the vivid memories that places can bring up.

Memories of places that once meant love and the promise of the future.

And now signify all that was lost in that love. And in that promise of the future.

Two songwriters tackling the exact same subject.

Two songs that nail that subject perfectly.

Exactly the same. But totally different.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Great Day

True Story

Me: What's that song on the Chase Sapphire commercial that sounds so much like Paul McCartney? I mean, it can't possibly be McCartney, so it's clearly someone who spent a lot of time listening to McCartney and wants everyone to know it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The More Famous Song Mentioning Peter Brown

Christ! You know it ain't easy.

A double-whammy for Christian grammarians -- taking the Lord's name in vain and using "ain't" unironically.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Apple Records #1

But Peter Brown calls me and tells me it's true

And then there's:

More info here.

(And I guess if you're Ringo in the 1960s, you can do stuff like this...)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

These Are the Landmarks On My Map

Just What I Always Wanted

On Thursday, the amazing and wonderful Julia Fordham performed a fantastic birthday concert in Los Angeles.

There were a bunch of special guests -- including Mari Wilson, with whom Fordham toured as a backup singer in the early '80s.

They sang this song as a duet and it was just as retro, cool, and amazing this week as it was 30 years ago. (And seeing the two of them do the goofy dance moves was an expression of pure joy...)