Friday, July 11, 2014

Songs of Summer

Ah, summer.  Sunny mornings full of possibility, lazy poolside afternoons and rockin' nights lit by tiki torches.  What songs bring back the sunscreen and beach-sand to you?  What songs defined your one perfect summer, be it decades ago or just yesterday?

Welcome to the Songs of Summer bloghop, hosted by the Armchair Squid, Cygnus and Suze.  Please join us by posting 5 of your favorite summer songs and sharing some memories about them.  Maybe between us, we can build the perfect soundtrack to accompany us over the next few months.  If possible, include links so we can hear these gems.  And, if you're in the southern hemisphere, join us to dance those winter blues away!

"This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie is a song I remember from summer campfires.  Growing up in the endless asphalt of suburban Maryland, the woods of Pennsylvania and West Virginia were our escape.  Campfires were an important ritual, particularly at Cacapon, a West Virginia state park we visited a couple times.


"The Billboard Song" by Doc and Merle Watson was one of many goofy songs we learned at summer camp.  The version I remember had slightly different lyrics, probably simplified to teach to kids.  Before tracking it down for this post, I'd never heard the song in any other context.


"Who's Next?" was one of many Tom Lehrer songs I learned by heart on family road trips.  I've written about Lehrer before here.  This was one of the first to catch my ear.  I was a map nerd as a child, a sucker for a song with lots of place names.  It's also a great summation of international relations in the 1960s.



I have told my "Twist and Shout" story before, here, but as that post was about a different song, I feel I should give "Twist and Shout" its due.  The connection to summer: my sister and I went to see Ferris Beuller's Day Off the day after school got out.  The movie changed my life.  The scene with this song blew me away.  I spent the rest of vacation falling in love with the Beatles, the first step on a road of musical self-discovery I still follow today.


My Wife and I have a long-standing joke about George Gershwin's "Summertime."  The jazz standard has been recorded over 25,000 times.  Every pop singer who sticks around long enough to record his/her covers album inevitably sings it.  Whenever we hear a recording by, let's say, Sting, we smile at one another knowingly, "Ah, he has reached the 'Summertime' stage of his career."  In fact, I considered simply using five different recordings of the tune for this bloghop but decided that would go against the spirit of the exercise.

Of course, it truly is a great song worthy of homage.  But then, which of the 25,000 to choose?  I don't know if this one's the best but it's certainly by one of my favorite singers, the great Sam Cooke.


Please be sure to visit others sharing their Songs of Summer.  Feel free to add your name to the list as well.


62 comments:

  1. Twist in Shout definitely summer when you consider Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
    Lots of old-time songs on your list.
    Thanks for hosting the blogfest!

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    1. When I struck out on my own musical explorations, looking backwards was my path. To a point, that still holds. In most genres, the older the better. Palestrina? Yes, please!

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  2. Fun blog-fest! Thanks for putting it together! I like your list -- I'd completely forgotten Tom Lehrer. That was a fun blast from the past :) And great choice on Sam Cooke! That's a fabulous rendition of the song!

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    1. I could happily listen to Sam Cooke all day.

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  3. We're really going to learn a lot about the different age groups who are part of this blog community today! This Land is Your Land always takes me back to singing that song in elementary school music class. It also makes me think of Family Ties and Elise...I don't know for sure she even sang that song on the show, but I'm thinking she did...

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    1. Ha! I believe I've faked you out, Stephanie. All of these songs are older than I am. Here's a hint: we went to see Ferris Bueller the day after I finished 7th grade.

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  4. Wow! What fun songs! I almost had a "version" of Summertime in my list--it was a ska/punk reimagining by Sublime, that bears almost no resemblance to the original except having the same first line....

    Thanks for the fun hop. My kids had a blast teasing me about my picks and offering alternate suggestions. ;)

    Veronica

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    1. I'd love to know what your kids suggested!

      I thought of the Janis Joplin version for "Summertime" - so different from the original but so, so good.

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  5. I never did summer camp. Think I missed out on the whole campfire song genre. BUT Summertime is one of my all time favorite songs. I picked Ella for my version. Gotta go old school for that song. :)

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    1. I tried to find the Paul Robeson version for "Summertime" but no luck. We love Ella at our house.

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  6. This Land Is Your Land definitely takes me back to my one summer camp experience. Great list. I love this blog hop. :) So much fun.

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  7. Interesting song choices. I never had the campfire experience when I was a kid though I did go for a week at school camp. We didn't sing any of the songs you mentioned, but there were some that were similar.

    Thanks for hosting!.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. That particular camp was Novelty Song Central. We learned loads of tunes I've never heard anywhere else.

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  8. Great lists! Thanks for sharing "Who's Next?" - that is hilarious and I was totally unfamiliar with that one.

    Camp songs and Beatles are catagories in and of themselves. I have always been so Beatles crazy that I left them off my list, lest the whole thing turn into a Beatles love fest. They were a little bit before my time, but I had an Aunt who loved them and had tons of Beatles stuff. When I was hooked, man, I was hooked. There's a Beatles doll of Paul McCartney sitting on my shelf right now!

    You are a most excellent host - thanks for the great idea!
    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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    1. I could have gone all Beatles, too - no problem. In fact, maybe a Beatles bloghop in the future...

      The art theater in Montpelier is screening A Hard Day's Night this weekend in honor of the movie's 50th anniversary. Don't know if we'll make it - about an hour's drive.

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  9. Hey, I did Janice Joplin's version of Summertime! Now I'm wondering how many versions of that song I'll run into today. And I have a feeling I'll see a lot of "Summertime Blues" as well. Cooke's version is great, thanks for doing this bloghop.

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    1. Haha! My point, exactly. It's a great song, without a doubt.

      Glad you're joining us, Samuel!

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  10. I like that there are songs on this list I've never heard of. "Who's next" is something else and you can't go wrong with the Beatles. Thanks for the opportunity. What a great hop.

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    1. My pleasure, Toi! I'm glad you've joined us.

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  11. I've never heard of Tom Lehrer before. He's great. I've reached the Summertime stage in my career, too. I think it's a shame that most people don't realize This Land Is Your Land is a protest song. Your choices are excellent.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Tom Lehrer's awesome! I highly recommend "New Math" and "Vatican Rag" if you care to poke around on YouTube.

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  12. Twist and Shout is an old favorite but I'm not really familiar with the others. funny how thinking of summer songs takes most of us back to the summer songs we liked as kids.

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  13. Nice songs. Summer seems to be in full swing.

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  14. This is a test. This is only a test (because I think Google ate my earlier comment).

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    1. We should probably be more worried about the power Google wields over us all...

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  15. Yarg, it DID eat my earlier comment. Well, here's what I said:

    I had no idea Summertime had been recorded so many times. Wonder who's next...

    I love how movies can introduce the next generation to cool songs/bands. I think that's happening with a lot of 80's tunes these days.

    Thanks so much for this fun fest -- it's the perfect thing as I sit on my screend porch sipping coffee on a beautiful summer day (now if the neighbor's turbo lawnmower would SHUT UP!...this part's new)

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    1. Just as Grease and Happy Days did for the '50s...

      I'm having fun, too. This is a fine way to spend a Friday. Sorry about the lawnmower, which reminds me I've gotta call our guy...

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  16. I adored Tom Lehrer as a kid, though I rarely think to listen to him now. And I'm so glad you included "Summertime," as it is, of course, the Platonic ideal of a summer song.

    I am now super curious how Ferris Bueller changed your life ...

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    1. It was the "Twist and Shout" scene. There's really not a whole lot more to the story than what I've given here but if you're interested in the original post, it's here: http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2011/06/30-songs-in-30-days-day-1-your-favorite.html

      I had the wrong link in my post above. Glad I just checked!

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    1. Great song, and truly under-appreciated as one of the best song covers anyone's ever made.

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  18. What a great post! Once you mentioned all the versions of Summertime it made me realize there are a ton! Thanks for sharing. What a fun hop!
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, Jess! There really are loads of recordings, in nearly every genre of music one can imagine.

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  19. Great choices! I was a folk-singing hootenanny kinda gal, so it was practically a requirement to know most Guthrie songs. I never heard your second and third choices before, but I really like both of them. And of course, the last two. I'm listening to Gershwin right now as I type.

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    1. You really can't go wrong with Gershwin.

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  20. Interesting the moment in history when China had the 'Red' shaved off.

    I hadn't thought of 'This Land is Your Land' in a long time. Has to have been an elementary school concert of some sort.

    The Sam Cooke version of Summertime is very nice. And I would have been shocked had there not been a Beatles selection in the mix. Glad you decided against five covers of one song.

    Thanks for asking me to cohost. I loved putting my post together and am relishing reading everyone else's. Happy Friday, Squidditch!

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    1. I've enjoyed this one, too. It's been a fine way to spend a beautiful summer Friday.

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  21. I love The Beatles. I was actually this close to putting Twist n Shout on my list. My Dad loves The Beatles (I was almost named Prudence) and Twist n Shout was one of my favorite road trip songs as a kid. Awesome list!

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    1. Surprisingly, I never even thought to name my daughter after a song. Now I have to think a bit about which I would have chosen.

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    2. Is there a Spencer associated with any Beatles songs?

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  22. Sam Cooke's voice always reminds me of summertime in Brooklyn. Great list and bloghop AC!

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    1. Thanks, Maurice! So glad you joined us for it.

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  23. Great list-although I am not a Guthrie fan, you really took me right back to my own camping experiences where,there was always someone with a guitar, and inevitably this song was played, probably sandwiched between "Blowin' In The Wind" and "Wild World."

    Larry

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    1. "Wild World" - great song. That'll be with me for the rest of the night now.

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  24. Cool list... definitely not much sunscreen & flip-flop action here, but everyone has their own unique summer memories. :-)

    About a decade ago, I got really into Johnny Cash and pretty much freebased his whole catalog for about 6 months or so. I feel I'm getting close to that point with Sam Cooke.

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    1. We weren't a beach family. Even when I did do the beach thing later in life, music wasn't really the major factor.

      Sam Cooke was amazing. He would weep over the current state of R&B.

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  25. Interesting list and I have to second Cygnus comment about sunscreen and flip flops. But the music seems like you to me.

    One summer after the x walked out I bought every Antonio Carlos Jobim and Astrud Gilberto album I could find and played them non-stop all summer. I did live by the ocean in Laguna Beach at the time so it did help.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. There is more to summer than fun in the sun, folks! Also, there are reasons why I have a house in the woods - reasons that have a lot to do with how I spent my summers growing up.

      The songs are definitely me, especially the last three.

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  26. I like that many of your choices tie back in with family! I had never heard Sam Cooke's version of 'Summertime'. I Iove your inside joke about musicians reaching the "summertime" of their careers! Thanks for coming up with this bloghop, it's been a lot of fun.

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    1. Thanks for joining in the fun, Nan! See you soon.

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  27. Two things I had forgotten: Woody Guthrie (never around the fire though, just on vinyl) and that Gershwin wrote Summertime! I love Gershwin! And Summertime! But they had become separated by the immense catalogue of covers I think. Sam Cooke has a beautiful voice :-)

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    1. Yup, "Summertime" is from Porgy and Bess.

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  28. Awesome list! I remember so many "campfire" songs, too. I had forgotten about the "Billboard Song" but now I remember hearing that one among the tents at camp. And of course "Summertime!" Love Gershwin! :-)

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    1. I'm amazed anyone else knows "The Billboard Song"!

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  29. Love Summertime; it even sounds like a lazy day in the dog days of summer.

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  30. Awesome choices! Love that "Summertime stage of his career" bit. Off to see who else has covered that song...

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    1. Thanks, Deniz. Peter Gabriel's version is one of my favorites.

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