As it is now "celebrational summer" (betwixt Memorial Day and Labor Day), my musical thoughts led me into the subject of summer songs (and stay tuned for an announcement there, fans!). My research has shown me some interesting things. One of those is that, when you make it personal, the songs that hit in between these two dates fall into four categories:
4- Hey, why isn't this song showing up?
3- I like this song, but no real summer feel for me.
2- Definitely a summer feel.
1- An honest to God, vivid summer memory is attached here!
For the most part, I'm going to skip #3 and lightly brush #2 here, and address the rest.
It is amazing how many songs directly addressing summer failed to hit big by Labor Day. Songs like War's Summer, Chicago's Saturday In The Park, Seals and Crofts' Summer Breeze, Mungo Jerry's In The Summertime, the Kinks' Sunny Afternoon, and the Beatles' Penny Lane either just grazed the season or missed it completely. Heck, look at the Beach Boys. It would be hard to say that any of their songs don't connect to summer somehow (except Little Saint Nick)- and yet:
Of their 15 top ten songs, one peaked in January (Barbara Ann), one in March (Fun, Fun, Fun), three skimmed the area in May (Surfin' USA, Help Me Rhonda, and Sloop John B), two more skimmed it in September (Surfer Girl and Wouldn't It Be Nice), one in October (When I Grow Up To Be A Man), one in November (Kokomo), and three in December (Be True To Your School, Dance Dance Dance, and Good Vibrations)- 12 of the 15 top tens.
So what constitutes a summer song for me? Summer memories. Sometimes, it was watching the run to the top in the long hot summer days of my youth. In 1978, summer kicked off with a battle between two songs I loved on the charts- Player's This Time I'm In It For Love and Heatwave's The Grooveline. Further down the list was a fast moving Barry Manilow hit, Even Now. Just then, my Dad decided we needed to spend three weeks in Florida with my sister's family. Not to bash Florida, but in the area we were in (Kissimmee), their were two basic radio stations- an all-Elvis all the time, and a nothing but gold records station. Needless to say, two of the three got NO airplay, and Grooveline I heard once. However, one chart hit was getting mucho airplay as a possible gold record- the O'Jays' Used Ta Be My Girl. By the time we got back, all of them were off the charts... but Manilow was soon back dominating the late summer with Copacabana.
Just looking into the warm sun brings back memories of the Captain and Tennille's Love Will Keep Us Together, Wings' Silly Love Songs, With A Little Luck, and my favorite Listen To What The Man Says. 1974-5-6 are my glory years, and the songs match it:Radar Love; Tell Me Something Good; Rock The Boat; Sister Golden Hair; Jackie Blue; Magic; One Of These Nights; Jive Talkin'.
The lake and the speedboat with the 8-track was the best. Chicago's Wishing You Were Here and Old Days, Glen Campbell and the great songs on Rhinestone Cowboy. The Beach Boys (again) with Sail On Sailor.
Pilot's Magic belongs to the camping trip at Fawn Forest, where the first steps netted my niece a big blob of blackberry bird poop on her shoulder. War's Why Can't We Be Friends belongs to summer days riding the minibike at my nephew's place, making up new and ridiculous verses. 1976 listening to the top 7 at seven, following the tremendous three way battle between Henry Gross's Shannon, Afternoon Delight, and Gary Wright's Love Is Alive. 1977 and the battle between Manilow's Looks Like We Made It and Andy Gibb's I Just Want To Be Your Everything. 1976 again with the battle between the Beatles' Got To Get You Into My Life and the Beach Boys' Rock'n'Roll Music.
But in the end, it's about where it takes you. More More More, how do you like it? The Boys Are Back In Town, won't be long until summer comes... slow summer nights set to Misty Blue... I Fooled Around And Fell In Love, and I'm Never Gonna Fall In Love Again... a warm night in a Georgia campground with Moonlight Feels Right... I play the radio on southern stations, 'cause southern belles I hear tonight...Southern Nights... every flower touched by his cold hand as they slowly walk by, weeping willows cry for joy....
I can't begin to pull all the memories out where you all can feel them... but here's what I'm gonna do. I have listed and pointed all the songs that hit the Cashbox top ten in the Martin Era (1962-79), adjusted a bit (because it wouldn't be an even up fair fight when the tons of great summer songs in 1975 (47 of them) has to compete with a year like '79 with a lot fewer good songs (33), and came up with...
...the top 100 songs of summer!
I will be showcasing them this summer on Time Machine. I think you're in for some surprising results!