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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Soundtrack songs- summer

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!


  1. Hi, Chris! I notice that you and I are a lot alike in that we enjoy making lists and compiling stats. I can't wait to see your Top 100 Songs of Summer. In some respects my glory years were ten years before yours, 64, 65 and 66, and I have often pointed to 1966 as being the greatest year of my life. I was a newly initiated "Dell Rat" and the music on the jukebox that year was the best.

    I have found that my favorite summertime songs of the mid 70s were those that were climbing the chart the last two weeks of summer, after Labor Day. That's when I would take my annual two week vacation and head down to Myrtle Beach, SC. My 1974 trip to Myrtle Beach was especially happy and memorable and I got anchored to the following songs that September: "I Shot the Sheriff" by Eric Clapton, "Tell Me Something Good" by Rufus, "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" by Barry White, "Then Came You" by Dionne Warwick & the Spinners, "Clap for the Wolfman" by Guess Who and "Sugar Baby Love" by the Rubettes. The two most memorable records from that September '74 Myrtle Beach vacation, the ones that made the greatest impression on me and have the most powerful memories linked to them, are "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)" by Reunion and "Beach Baby" by First Class.

    Thanks for shaking loose some of my own fond summertime memories, good buddy!

  2. I think when we're kids and out of school... those summer songs mean more. I guess we've got Too Much Time On Our Hands. Don't know, but I fondly remember summer songs of my youth, too.

  3. All she wants to do is Dance by Don Henley brings me back into biology class my senior year of high school. I was talking to another classmate and not paying attention, when my teacher Mrs Lindsey quoted the song All she wants to do is dance and tapped on the chalkboard. I turned around in my seat and she was looking right at me. Totally got my attention in a very cool way!

  4. Chris:
    "Celebrational Summer"...
    Ahhhh...THAT'S the phrase I was looking for.
    (thank you)

    When I think of Summer, I DO think of the Beach Boys (as well as Jan and Dean)...but I'm from the EAST coast, and THOSE tunes from those two bands reflected a virtual 365 - day long "Summer" out there on the WEST coast.

    Then, there are THOSE songs (that you categorized very well)...esp.. #1 for me...VIVID memories indeed.
    (and you can quote the YEAR, the place and/or the person like it was just LAST year).

    RADAR this is weird you mention that.
    That song was playing in the sales office when I was signing the papers for my FIRST CAR.
    (I unofficially named that '68 Buick Special - "Radar Love".)
    And still have the cassette from Golden Earring, too.

    THE BOYS ARE BACK UN TOWN...Summer 1977...heading into Wildwood, NJ (for a day trip) with the buddy from S. Philly who taught me to drive..that was playing on the radio...
    (still got the vinyl)
    I think we played that song at EVERY restaurant we hit that day...several times per stop (the booth "mini-jukes" had all the hits...for a stinking NICKEL - an album side was a QUARTER)

    TOP 100 SUMMER THAT has got my interested PEAKED...gonna love to drive down THAT memory lane again..

    Great post and idea.

    Stay safe (and summer song-filled - the tunes and not the ice up there, brother.

  5. While reading your first paragraph, I thought Pilot's "Magic" would make my list. .and it made yours!