in the summertime......
Sometimes trying to be a daily blogger on this site can be hard.......or at least that's how I feel when it comes to coming up with new material to write. Most of the time, I just can't find the words (or the time) to talk about things on a day-to-day basis.......I take those words back right now.
As summer comes to that final leg of August, I took another break on my journey, pulled out my roadmap, and started to contemplate my next step. And it occurred to me that even though I'm on this music experience of a lifetime, keeping true to my regular entries would be a great way to continue writing when I need a break from all the new music I have been pushing myself to listen to.
Yet summer has lingered on my mind lately......and all of the music that I tend to associate with it. Sure, it could be as simple as looking up some of the standard summer tunes people long to hear during this time, but I'm not just your average person. The summer is more than just the themes of the music. It's all about the attitude, the body of work, the feelings you get when you listen to the song. It's more than just drinks with umbrellas, a closet full of tank tops and shorts, and nights of digging your toes into the sand. It's a state of mind, a feeling from deep within, that relaxation and calm that comes with listening to the waves and smelling freshly fried funnel cake.
In summer fashion, I have thrown away structure (i.e., Top Ten) and focused on a variety of songs that I feel embody what I look for in summer music. So here are my top 13 songs that compliment my personal summer soundtrack.
Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy - A bit off what I would consider my musical expertise path, but one has not really lived until hearing this classic romantic period piece from Debussy. The instrumental themes in Clair de Lune build like the ebb and flow of the ocean waves.....gradually building, then growing to the climax before pulling back again. It reminds me of a wistful, dream-like experience, which is what summer is to most who relax and enjoy it.
Dream A Little Dream of Me by The Mamas & The Papas - I'll admit, when it comes to The Mamas & The Papas, it's difficult to pick just one song that embodies summer for me. Why is that? Because their West Coast style bears summery themes. Who else would talk about dancing and California with such passion and adoration?
The Escape by Rupert Holmes - I always find it amusing when people automatically draw a blank upon mention of this song. Yet when the chorus hits....just about every classic 70's rock fan will sing along....drunkenly, if possible. But this song is more than just about Pina Coladas and getting caught in the rain. It's the story in the song. The way Holmes describes the characters falling in love all over again, even though they are not aware that they are responding to each other through the ad. It alludes to how a little bit of mystery in the relationship has brought back that spark that they once shared before it made them stray a little for something more exciting.
Better Together by Jack Johnson - What better way to incorporate summer themes into modern music? This Hawaiian native has been on the scene for over a decade or so, yet until recently (around the time of Curious George hitting theaters), Johnson became a household name. His catchy island-style rhythms & harmonies resonate throughout this song, almost reminiscent of the elusive summer romance.
Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys - Another classic example of musicians who embody that summer/fun vibe through any of their music. The Beach Boys are iconic and popular for their song themes about girls, surfing, and cool classic cars. Yet instead of choosing one of those standard themes, I decided to go with something from their breakaway album Pet Sounds. It's just proof that it doesn't matter what the Beach Boys are singing about; their music will transcend and fit the mold any day.
La Mer/Verlaine by Charles Trenet - As part of my journey, these selections would be the first (two) songs that I would add from my own education. Branching out into new territory, I challenged myself with learning more about 1940's and 1950's French music....settling into the soulful, creature comforts of Charles Trenet. His voice oozes classic summer with a martini or glass of wine at a boat party on the French Riviera. A more sophisticated palate, but one that just seems so fitting on a night where the stars are out and the temperatures cool enough to open all the windows while sipping a glass of my favorite Pinot Noir.
Urge for Going by Joni Mitchell - Break out my inner hippie, Joni Mitchell has come onto the scene! I have always enjoyed her folksy singer/songwriter style....and this song is no exception. Whereas every once in a while I feel the need to be sophisticated, I also feel the need to put my toes in the grass, run in the rain, and feel the sun beat down onto my face. Mitchell captures that campfire acoustic vibe all too well.
Hotel California by The Eagles - Cue the epic masterpiece. While Hotel California really has no summer-style themes, it always seems to me that this is the one song that most patrons long to hear when they're at an outdoor beach bar. Originally about American decadence/hedonism and its downfall, Henley's voice captures the voice of the narrator perfectly in this ballad. You hear him talk about stopping at this hotel along the way, bleary-eyed and weary from his travels. Yet as he's there, the strange happenings begin to unravel before him and when he goes to leave, he finds that no matter what he does, he will never be able to fully put the hotel behind him....he has become a part of it.
Here Comes The Sun by George Harrison - I would be remiss if I didn't include this musical gem on my list. After all, a Beatles song is perfect for any season! But this one? Definitely a necessity for the summer......simply because it signifies the beginning of wonderful times ahead! When I think about the summer, I feel it's a time of refreshing one's soul, a time to put all that has happened behind you in order to move forward in life. A clean slate for what's to come......and it shall be exciting!
Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael - If you couldn't tell, I have a thing for older music. Just the way it captures innocence and beauty all within its melody......astounding. The vibe being reminiscent of a Great Gatsby-esque party, champagne and an evening gown. Or even just a nice bubble bath, with the candles lit.....and a nice chilled glass of Chardonnay. I consider it my more mellow selection of the summer, when one wants to just unwind and relax for a while.
You and I Both by Jason Mraz - Just like Jack Johnson, Mraz is an artist who is able to be considered a summer-style performer. Anything I could have suggested of his would be fitting for this list. Yet I chose this song particularly for the fact that it was the summer of 2003 the first time I had heard it. His guitar style is classic, his voice is light and clear, and his music makes me feel like being at the beach on a warm summer night. During the winter, when I need that summer boost, I can always rely on Mraz to take me back there....zeppoles not included.
I'll Be Seeing You by Billie Holiday - This is the true "lady" of music.......and her style can be adapted to fit any season! But I feel this fits in the idea of summer romance....when you're saying goodbye and knowing that you'll think of that person whenever you're around something that reminds you of them. Call me a hopeless romantic, if you will, but just popping in some Lady Day and dancing with your significant other, it's timeless.
The Door Into Summer by The Monkees - The only song on my list that mentions summer in it, but the most complex of all. For being known as a "boy-band" style of music, by the time their fourth album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. was released, The Monkees had taken a more serious approach to their music and what they hoped they would produce. The chorus stands out the most to me, talking about the familiar things that remind us of summer....and how it all fades away once the summer is gone. Simple in meaning and melody.
As I sit here reflecting back on this past summer, I cannot help but be filled with gratitude, love, joy, and above all else....a wonderful soundtrack to remember it all by.