Saturday Single No. 246

This is going to be, the weatherfolk tell us, a hot and muggy day. I can already concur with the muggy portion: I wandered out a little while ago to retrieve the Minneapolis newspaper from the steps, and the air was damp enough to make my hair curl, if I’d had any hair long enough to curl. (That thought reminded me, as I made my way to our back door, of the times when I did have hair long enough to curl. On muggy days in the Seventies, my hair sported a natural wave that I actually quite liked, and more than once my mother looked at it and muttered something like “Such nice wavy hair, and it’s wasted on a boy!”)

Anyway, at this point in the morning, it’s muggy. By sometime this afternoon, the temperature will approach ninety degrees (that’s thirty-two degrees for those keeping score in Celsius), and stepping outside will feel like being hit with a hot, wet washcloth. Unless I’m very much wrong, the Texas Gal and I will be staying indoors most of the day. She’s already working on her main task of the day: She’s clipped the basil and sage leaves from the herb garden, and the leaves are in the oven drying as I write. As for me, I have a few kitchen tasks that will get done, but other than that, we have nothing more pressing than exercising the cats.

Until this evening, that is. We’ll be heading out to the Paramount Theatre for a performance by the Bavarian Musikmeisters, a Twin Cities group that, in the words of its press release, “is modeled after the traditional village bands found in the German-speaking areas of Europe. Our attire, instrumentation, and musical style arrangements of marches, polkas, waltzes, folk dances, and ballads are all authentic.” It should be an interesting evening.

Beyond those little bits of business, it will be a quiet summer day. And I thought that the best way of finding a tune for the day might be to do a six-click random trip through songs with “summer” in their titles. I’ve done this before, of course, but it seems to work.

First up is “Summer (The First Time),” a seasonal coming-of-age record by Bobby Goldsboro that made its way to No. 21 in the Billboard Top 40 during the summer of 1973. It’s a tune that I don’t recall at all, and it’s one that’s better – and more subtle – than I would have thought it had any chance to be.

Another tune that’s better than I would have expected is actress Scarlett Johansson’s take on “Summertime,” the George Gershwin/DuBose Heyward classic from the opera Porgy and Bess. Johansson recorded the song for the 2006 fund-raising album, Unexpected Dreams: Songs From The Stars, which was itself, says All-Music Guide, better than one would have expected.

Our third stop is Bob Dylan’s “Summer Days,” a lengthy and lively three-chord romp from his 2001 album Love and Theft. The next-to-last verse is classic Dylan:

Well, I’m leaving in the morning as soon as the dark clouds lift
Yes, I’m leaving in the morning just as soon as the dark clouds lift
Gonna break in the roof—set fire to the place as a parting gift

From there we move to a song I remember well but hadn’t heard for years until recently. Late last month, a garage sale stop in the nearby city of Sauk Rapids netted me a few country CDs and a hits selection from Nat King Cole. Among the tunes on the Cole CD was “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days Of Summer,” which I recall hearing – and liking very much – during the summer of 1963, when it went to No. 6. It was the last of Cole’s seven Top Ten hits.

In the very early days of this blog, I discussed at length the first release of the band called Hour Glass, which counted among its members Duane and Gregg Allman. Sometime since then, I’ve come across the second Hour Glass album, Power of Love, an early 1968 effort on which – according to Wikipedia – the brothers were allowed at least a little more creative freedom. The track pertinent to our wanderings this morning is “Home For the Summer,” a bluesy number from the pens of Marlon Greene and Eddie Hinton. Just as on the earlier album, the track contains hints, but no more than that, of the fiery mix of rock leavened by blues, gospel, soul and country the Allman Brothers Band would unleash near the end of 1969.

And we land on a disc of summer froth from 1971: “Summer Sand” by Dawn, the group that would soon rename itself “Tony Orlando & Dawn.” The record is a sweet accounting of a summer beachside romance, which seems altogether appropriate for this muggy and soon to be hot day. Hitting the charts in the middle of June forty years ago, the record went to No. 33, though I don’t recall it at all. But it’s pertinent enough and good enough to be today’s Saturday Single.

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3 Responses to “Saturday Single No. 246”

  1. porky says:

    Dylan’s Love and Theft is a great record and the car always goes a little faster when “Summer Days” is playing.

  2. jb says:

    “The things we write in the summer sand / The I love you’s and the future plans / Disappear slip right through your hand / Like this warm soft bed of summer sand.” A little more profound than most Irwin Levine/L. Russell Brown songs.

    As for the Nat King Cole song, my hometown radio station always busted it out on the first morning after school got out.

  3. Yah Shure says:

    “Summer (The First Time)” came up twice at random on the drive up to the lake in Wisconsin Saturday, and with the St. Croix River crossing on I-94 looking more like the Smoky Mountains in the tropical haze, it felt oh-so-perfect.

    The single was still in the flashback 45s section at WJON five years after it had been a hit. The first time I played it there, I was both surprised and disappointed to find the mood-setting ocean waves and most of the guitar intro edited out of what had now become a rather terse intro. I suppose some radio stations had objected to the original promo 45’s long intro time, but to me, the reserviced short promo just didn’t cut it.

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