Friday, July 11, 2014

Songs of Summer


Warren Dunes State Park (image from Michigan Science & Nature blog)


Lately, I must admit that I haven't been very social on the blogosphere. Because I haven't had much time to devote to it, this blog has been mainly a one-way street where I've made an occasional post and then disappeared, rarely getting out to visit other bloggers. 

But I've decided that in spite of my limited time, I do need to improve my on-line presence and interaction.  Taking part in a fun blog-hop is one way to do that, and so this is my entry in the Songs of Summer blog-hop sponsored by the bloggers The Armchair Squid, Cygnus, and Suze from the wonderful Subliminal Coffee.

The point of the blog hop is to create a five-song personal summer soundtrack, and so I've put together the songs below.  I will admit that my list is entirely subjective and personal -- rather than just being "about" summer, most of these songs bring back memories I associate with summer, like my fond memories of the time I spent at Warren Dunes on Lake Michigan (see pic above) during my summers as a teen.

But here's my list -- see if I hit any ones that you might have on your own soundtrack:

  • Hot Fun in the Summertime (Sly and the Family Stone):  OK -- this first one IS indeed "about summer."  But as a kid, I remember hearing this a lot in the summer, and it brings back many happy memories of the times at my friend's grandmother's pool, listening to music on a small transistor radio.  It's a fun mix of mellow and funky, with some incredibly infectious bass, and it holds up surprisingly well for a song recorded in 1969 -- 45 years ago.  It's a song that just feels like summer. Here's a recording of it where the old original mono has been redone into stereo (yes, they were still recording in mono in 1969):
 
  • Stranglehold (Ted Nugent):  Ted Nugent's first, self-titled 1975 solo album after leaving the Amboy Dukes was a record that I played a LOT during the summer of '76, and this track was the main reason.  As a 15-year-old struggling, wanna-be guitar-player, I loved the power and vibe of the long, extended solo. The vocals and all-around bravado also appealed to my immature masculinity, despite my overwhelming introverted shyness and awkwardness. But man-oh-man, that in-your-face, screamin' guitar just called to me (and now I have the tinnitus to prove it how loud and how often it did, LOL!).  Here's the original studio recording:

  • Blue Sky (The Allman Brothers): This was recorded in 1972, but I didn't really discover the Allman Brothers until the late '70s in my later teens.  This song was on Eat a Peach, the album the band was working on in 1971 when Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. The song was written (and sung) by Dickey Betts and has some of my most-favorite guitar playing of all time -- Duane's first solo, Dickey's second, and their harmonies are simply exquisite.  This song just oozes joy and warmth, and is such a perfect song for a lazy, sunny summer day.  Still a staple of the band's live shows, here's the original version from Eat a Peach:

  • Are You Going With Me? (Pat Metheny) -- Nine minutes of haunting, ethereal, and (eventually) intense playing over a simple, catchy groove, this is from my favorite Pat Metheny album, Offramp. Released, in 1982, right when I was really starting to get into his music, I completely associate it with summer because of one special night: July 12, 1983.  That's when I saw the Pat Metheny Group live at Meadowbrook  It was a warm, clear summer night at a gorgeous outdoor, wooded amphitheater on the campus of Oakland University in Auburn Hills, MI. The band's playing that night completely blew me away -- it was a magic event and still stays in my memory as one of the best concerts I've ever seen.  No "big production" -- just incredible musicians making amazing music in a beautiful setting. This concert had most of the pieces from Offramp, including the jaw-dropping Ornette Coleman inspired title track, the beautiful James, the groovin' Eighteen, and the moody Au Lait among them. Below is a live version of Are You Going With Me -- I still smile and get goosebumps when I hear it.  It's mostly keyboardist Lyle Mays in the beginning, with Pat coming in on his guitar-synth just before the 4:00 mark:

  • There are also several movies I associate strongly with summer, so it's natural for me to think of their theme songs as part of my "summer soundtrack."   The soundtrack from Caddyshack (summer of 1980 -- love the version of "I'm Alright" as used in the film's openings) and the soundtrack from Ghostbusters (summer of 1984 -- note the '80's synth drums and the low-budget cheesy early MTV video) are especially relevant here.  But after thinking about it, there is one soundtrack that stands out as having particular significance. So, from the summer of 1975: The Theme from Jaws, by John Williams.  No summer at the beach was ever the same after this movie.  For  years, even small ponds in Iowa had kids chanting this "duh-duh... DUH-DUH..." Jaws theme music when they went anywhere near the water:


So there you have it -- my personal five-song "Summer Soundtrack."  But I supposed I could also add a write-in sixth song of my own. How about my wikiloops jam, Summertime Smile? I think it's the most summer-y of anything I've done so far (click on the image to go to the jam):

http://www.wikiloops.com/backingtrack-jam-17989.php

So that makes my "Summer Soundtrack (+1)" -- what do you think?

Thank you very much for stopping by! I encourage you to visit all the blogs in this blog hop. You can see the linky-list at The Armchair Squid's blog:  HERE



47 comments:

  1. Jaws really does have the most iconic soundtrack in movie history. We recently watched the remastered edition of the film and it looks amazing.
    I'll admit I've never been a fan of Nugent, but he was on That Metal Show recently and the dude is as entertaining as hell.

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    1. That Jaws theme definitely stayed in the public consciousness for a long time. And I get why someone might not be a fan of Ted "The Motor City Madman" Nugent. Part of it might be a home-state affinity. But truthfully. I wasn't a huge fan for that long -- I kind of moved on after a few years because he got a little too full of himself and it became more about his whole persona and opinions rather than just being about being able to play guitar.. But back in 1976? When I was a naive 15-year old kid? Hell, yeah -- I was a big fan. :)

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  2. I nearly had the Sly and the Family Stone song on my list too. Great song for summer. And the Allman Brothers too. Haven't heard that one in a looooong time. But, no, I'm not going to play the theme from Jaws. I'm still recovering from seeing that movie as a kid. :P

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you liked 'em. But I bet you don't even have to play the Jaws theme to know what it sounds like, do you? It's that ingrained. :)

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  3. Great list, Chris. Thanks in particular for including a track of your own - very summery indeed.

    Must politely disagree with Mr. Cavanaugh. That half-step repetition in Jaws is certainly iconic but I still think the Star Wars score wins, all-time. John Williams either way, I suppose...

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed both my mix and my extra self-made song. I felt I both needed to include something of my own AND balance out the fact that Alex could only come up with four songs... ;)

      I love the Star Wars score but I wonder which would win as the most "recognizable"? If nothing else, I bet you could "Name That Tune" with the Jaws one in fewer notes. :)

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  4. The Jaws soundtrack is appearing on a lot of lists - because it was great! Who can forget that experience??

    Sly and the Family Stone were a one-of-a-kind event every time they played. That should be on everyone's list!

    Thanks so much, I'll be back...
    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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    1. Thank you very much Cherdo! I'm glad you enjoyed the mix.

      And you're welcome back anytime!

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  5. I think Jaws scared everybody from the water for a long time Chris. A great list of new songs for me!

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    1. Thanks, Maurice. It's kind of a 70's-centric list. The songs on it might not make my "all-time-favorites" list and reflect just a particular time in my life, but they were the ones that seemed to remind me most of summers in my life.

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  6. I like Summertime Smiles very much! Second time I've seen the Jaws theme pop up in this hop -- excellent choice.

    I used to go to the Michigan Dunes as a teen too! Just a few times, but they are good memories.

    By the way, you totally got me with your comment at my place when you said you'd never heard of Frozen. I was all WHAT?!?! And then you make me chuckle w/ Let it go...heehee

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    1. Thank you, Nicki! I'm really happy you enjoyed it.

      And cool -- yeah, the dunes are good memories for me, too. I used to love going over there. Of course, now, I'm like, "I need my umbrella -- the sun will burn my skin. Whew -- it's hot. The sand is itchy. I don't wanna climb 'nuthin. Jeez, it's hot! Why are the bathrooms so far away? It's hot -- did I say that? Can't we just go find a bar or something to get out of the sun???"

      And I'm glad I made you smile -- kind of a Summertime Smile, huh? :)

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  7. Nice list. Can't argue with the staying power of the Jaws soundtrack. I never heard of Are You Going With Me? Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Toi! If you're into jazz guitar, Pat Metheny is great. I hope you enjoyed it.

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  8. Good picks, but I've gotta admit: I was only familiar with the first and last. (I liked the three in the middle, though... and of course, YOURS.) Geez, how could I not have thought of "Jaws" for my list? Our kids and their friends did the "da dum... da dum" bit in our pool all summer long. I'm talking All. Summer. Long.

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    1. Glad you liked them, Susan! (and especially that you liked MINE, ha!).

      Well your list was kinda 60's-centric. Jaws didn't come out until the 70's. :)

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  9. This was a great list. I was a little kid in the seventies, but I still adore seventies tunes. However, most of my song attachments are throughout the 80s and 90s. When I listened to Ted Nugent, he was playing with Damn Yankees. I listened to and loved Stranglehold--thanks for posting!

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    1. Thank you Megan. I remember Damn Yankees, but didn't really listen to them that much. I was more into Ted in my younger teens. That 1st solo album was a huge favorite at the time, but then I'd more or less moved on by the 80s. But he was definitely a strong early influence.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  10. I'm being totally honest, here--Summertime Smile is my favorite of the group. I really like it, Chris, and I'm so happy you chose to include it!

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    1. Well, thank you very much Suze! I'm happy you enjoyed it!

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  11. Jaws is coming up a lot in this blog-hop. :) "Blue Sky" is my favorite Allman Brothers song; great choice.

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    1. Yeah. I thought I'd be only one to go that route. But it does show how strongly that movie influenced the summers of kids in the 70s and after. And I absolutely love "Blue Sky", although "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" might still be my overall favorite. Thanks for visiting!

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  12. It's funny how quickly the songs of summer turn into the movies of summer. Movie soundtracks were much more essential back then than they are now. Unless you count High School Musical.

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    1. That's true. For a while many movie soundtracks were once huge sellers, but now, "albums" in general seem less prevalent -- people just download the individual tunes they like. But I would say the Frozen soundtrack shows that people can still love the music from movies.

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  13. I'm kicking myself for not including Blue Sky in my own list. (Not that I have any specific summer memories of it, but it's just so dang beautiful... a perfect musical encoding of that summer bliss...)

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    1. Yeah -- it's a fabulous song. Makes me smile every time I hear it. Thanks again for co-hosting the blogfest!

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  14. Interesting how many people chose the Jaws theme-not what I would imagine as a relaxing summer song, but I certainly get the linking of it with summer-I read the book and saw the movie a few times that summer ('75?)

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    1. No, definitely not a song for beach relaxing, ha ha! But it is one I definitely associate with summer. And yes -- 1975.

      Thanks for visiting!

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  15. Thanks for sharing your list! I totally forgot about movie songs! I of course knew the "Jaws" theme even though I was too young to be allowed to watch it when if came out (too scary!) I really liked your "Summertime Smiles."

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    1. Thank you for visiting! And I'm very glad you liked my piece!

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  16. Very much looking forward to upgrading my flagging laptop: it won't play any links currently. (Or post any!) Your song was the one I most wanted to hear! I love Jaws, in spite of how it made us swim like maniacs for the nearest rock every time a tiny dogfish was spotted. Seventies summers were The Best Ever :-)

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! Yeah, as a teen in the seventies, I definitely enjoyed those summers. But I've also some great ones since then, too -- although these were the first songs that came to my head, there are many others that I could think of to highlight later summers of my life. :)

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  17. I somehow missed all of these, except for the Jaws theme. I didn't even consider movies. Grease makes me think of summer, although I'm not sure when it came out.

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    1. Well, Grease had that "Summer Nights" song, so even if came out in December, I can see why you'd associate it with summer. :)

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Medeia!

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  18. Thanks for the list--I'll admit I wasn't familiar with anything but JAWS, but these were cool to hear!
    Best,
    Veronica

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    1. Great! I'm glad you enjoyed them, and while I think of them as mainly "old" songs from my past, I'm glad I helped make them new for you. :)

      Thanks!

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  19. I hadn't heard any of these songs except JAWS, either - love that you included that one. haha. I listened to the other songs and they sound great! I need to buy some new CDs. ;)

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    1. Thanks, and I'm glad you liked them!

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  20. Oh, forgot to mention your music - great to hear music by fellow bloggers. You are very talented!

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    1. And thank you very much!! I really appreciate that!

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  21. Very cool. I've been seeing a number of the summertime soundtrack posts, and it's killing me. I just want to listen along but my sound system is packed away while we're in temporary housing between houses. Very frustrating. That's where my piano is too, packed away, and my fingers are getting pretty twitchy. *sigh* We survive these times, right?

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    1. Right! -- not only survive, but grow! "Deprivation cultivates a new appreciation for the things once taken for granted," according to the quote I just made up.

      I hope you're able to get your fingers back onto those keys soon, Crystal!

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    2. >>... "Deprivation cultivates a new appreciation for the things once taken for granted," according to the quote I just made up.

      Ha!-Ha! That's great, Chris.
      I may just have to quote you on that in the future. Of course, when I quote you I will obviously be putting it forth as something I myself made up. (So, sue me! You can't get money out of a turnip! ...And you can quote me on that - just make sure you give me the credit for having made it up!)
      [;-)}

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

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  22. CHRIS ~
    Unfortunately, my computer was down during this Blogfest or I might have jumped in (I hear the water was fine).

    I actually put together a song list, thinking that I'd get my computer back sooner than I did. I knew I'd still be a day late but... what's a day when Summer lasts so long?

    But alas, I was unable to really get back online for nearly a week and by then the party was over. However, the list I put together also included Sly's 'Hot Fun In The Summertime' - a great song and a total no-brainer when it comes to a list of essential Summer songs.

    I didn't think of any Pat Metheny tunes, but like you I am a HUGE fan of his music (as you know), and I definitely get that "Summer mood" feeling from 'Are You Going With Me?' I think nearly anything from the album 'Letter From Home' would have worked, too.

    Right now I've got Ben Webster and Oscar Peterson playing 'The Touch Of Your Lips' as I type (the first track on the classic Jazz album 'Ben Webster Meets Oscar Peterson'). It doesn't necessarily convey "Summer", but it sure is great musicianship.

    Yak Later, My Friend...

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. I'd have liked to see your summer songs list. My list is probably pretty personal, and each song kind of reflects a particular summer for me, rather than songs that have lasted through the years as all-time favorites. Although I still love "Blue Sky" and "Are You..." Putting this blog post together is probably the first time I've listened to "Stranglehold" in years. Fun for nostalgic purposes, but not what I'd be listening to much at all these days...

      Thanks for commenting, and -- by the way -- I WILL be taking part in the next BOTB posting on the 1st (although I can't promise much past that). :)

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  23. Ooh, I like the idea of choosing soundtracks. So many great movies to remember from past summers.

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    1. So true! I almost went with that great "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack, but I couldn't ignore the power and pervasiveness of "Jaws".

      Thanks for visiting, Deniz!

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Don't be shy -- feel free to comment. I really appreciate your thoughts.