Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summer's Here And The Time Is Right

(I want to thank old Brooklyn friend Lesley H. for her very direct "How 'bout a summer mix?" message to kick my ass into gear for today's entry. I thought I may have done something like this prior. I was right. Part of the following was originally posted in 2009. It's better now...I hope.)

This mix isn't intended to be a revelation. It's pure self-indulgence. It's not as if my choices for a "summer mix" would include anything off the wall like a side long epic by Amon Duul. It's a safe bet that what I've included here would work for most of you.

There are so many songs that bring me back to places and people in such vivid detail, it's sinful to dismiss music as just music.

As a kid, it was all about AM radio and those great DJs- Ron Lundy, Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram and Johnny Donovan--playing the hits. As I got older, legendary DJs like Scott Muni, Meg Griffin, Dennis Elsas and Alison Steele soundtracked many hot summer nights, with harder rock and longer songs.

Far Rockaway, Sheepshead Bay, Sip Avenue in Jersey City, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach, good ol' Coney, Broome Street and Sullivan Street all pop up with specific snapshots every time I hear songs like "Our Day Will Come" by Ruby & The Romantics, "Band Of Gold" by Freda Payne, "Elenore" by The Turtles, "Don't Worry Baby" by The Beach Boys,""Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer.

I can never listen to "The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys" by Traffic without thinking of my cousin Vinny and his friend Tosh sitting on the short red brick wall that sloped into the garage at Sip Avenue. I had been sitting there too, holding Vinny's copy of Traffic's "On The Road," when Tosh pushed me onto the ground, where I smacked my head against the concrete. Up until that moment, it is a great memory.

"Mr Dieingly Sad" by The Critters will always put me and my cousins Al and Ingrid in our uncle's boat, which sat in the front yard on Beach 44th Street in Far Rockaway. Same with "Toy Soldier," not one of the Four Seasons biggest hits, but still one that defines a moment for me. The Tijuana Brass and "What Now My Love?" Front porch, same house at Beach 44th.

I will always picture my friend Christine thrusting her index finger at someone only she could see as Roger Daltrey sang her sentiments--- "You're gonna choke on it, too!"  The Who's "I Can See For Miles" is no longer just a great song. It carries that moment, her moment. Guard down, dukes up. Bliss.

It's been 33 years since Led Zeppelin's final studio album "In Through The Out Door" was released, and yet I can recite from memory, the words exchanged by my friends John, Sal and Anthony on that summer day in Sheepshead Bay, as we gathered together on my cousin's stoop to listen to WNEW-FM preview the entire record.

Music is important. Again, no revelation. But music and summer is an intense combination. One that can stir up emotions that leave lasting impressions. Even the saddest moments of our lives have been soundtracked and we somehow hang onto those memories and not mind. It's the music. Bet on it.

It's the first day of summer and here in NYC, it's come in scorching. I complain all winter, so I won't bitch about this. I've got music.


Summer In The City- The Lovin' Spoonful
Expressway To Your Heart- The Soul Survivors
Don't Worry Baby- The Beach Boys
Our Day Will Come- Ruby & The Romantics
Hot Stuff- Donna Summer
Grass- XTC
Memories Are Made Of This- Dean Martin
The Summer Rain- Shoes
Summertime Thing- Chuck Prophet
Reflections Of My Life- Marmalade
Surrender- Cheap Trick
Summertime Blues- The Who
The Rain, The Park, & Other Things- The Cowsills
Summer Can't Come Too Soon- A.J. Croce
Elenore- The Turtles
Green Grass- Gary Lewis & the Playboys
Groovin'- The Young Rascals
Girls In Their Summer Clothes- Bruce Springsteen
That Sunday, That Summer- Nat "King" Cole
Hot Fun In The Summertime- Sly & The Family Stone



itsok2beright said...

Quote from Anthony: "There are no l@#$% leads on this album" ... repeated at least 12 times in various forms.

Great mix, can't wait to listen in one sitting to get into the summertime mood.

allen vella said...

Wonderful. Summer and music sre so evocative, your mix hits a bunch of those notes. We all have our summertime song memories, thanks for reminding me to revisit them. Early to mid 60's summer music resonates strongly, and like you said..listening to all those great DJ's on am radio, and the eclectic mix you heard on any given day made for some powerful moments in time. oh yea... The Tymes...So much in Love...see? Grazie!!

Sal Nunziato said...

"No leads. There are no leads. How can there be no leads? NO leads!" I'm dying.

The Tymes song is a killer. Wish I had thought of that. So perfect.

iggy said...

Hi Sal. Wonderful mix. My only addition would be something (almost anything) by The Drifters. For me, they were the sound of summer in The South. Maybe not so much in your neighborhood. In any case, thanks for this great set.


Sal Nunziato said...


The Drifters' Golden Hits LP was never taken off the turntable in my grandparents house. Absolute summer fave. I imagine there will be a lot more I forgot about, as well.

Robin said...

Stellar! Happy Summer and a very Happy 70th Birthday to the one and only Brian Wilson, fitting his very special day falls on the first day of summer this year.

FD13NYC said...

Yes it is certainly the music. Many memories. It's what keeps us going for sure. The mix is a true one, very nice, thanks. Stay cool!

buzzbabyjesus said...


jeff k said...

Summer as a kid was camp in Taconic, Ct. My counselor Norm Winer (later Saxophone Joe on WBCN) would bring his tape recorder and enough tapes to last the summer. All Fm-like tunes, but there was also the transistor tuned to the Ct. stations. I still remember our entire bunk cheering when they declared "People Got To Be Free" No. 1 in the summer of '68.

Summer as an older kid in a searingly hot studio apartment on the top floor of a brownstone on West 69th. The AC didn't work. The windows were small and opened sometimes. On the other hand, the dancers in the building liked to climb up on the roof , take off their tops and sun themselves (to borrow from the beach boys, that's why god invented the skylight). I fell head over heels for a beautiful young actress who lived down the street. She turned me on to Hoyt Axton, but frankly I was so ga-ga that "Wreck on the HIghway" could have felt like a happy summer song.

Aaron said...

So great. Thanks yet again, Sal!

Anonymous said...

Well, Sal, you've done it again - another thought-provoking, memory-inducing post!

No matter where I am, as soon as I hear the first few notes of these songs (and many of yours) I'm transported back to my room in Toronto, Zenith Radio on the nightstand, pale blue Seabreeze record player across the way or out on the blazing hot street with my pals, transistor radio glued to my ear.

Unit 4 + 2: Concrete and Clay
Doris Troy: Just One Look
Terry Stafford: Suspicion
Beatles: You're Gonna Lose That Girl
Barbara Lewis: Hello Stranger
and the oddest one of all:
George Martin & His Orchestra (instrumental): And I Love Her (yeah, I know . . .)

Thanks for the memories!

steve simels said...

A Shoes song in the mix!!!

You are, indisputably, The Man.

Noam Sane said...

"Summer in the City" - I would have been 7 in 1966. My dad was working on the house - probably putting up paneling, that man loved his paneling - and so that summer, I slept on the screened-in side porch.

As always, I fell asleep and woke up to my AM radio tuned to the Great 98, WTRY Albany, sort of WABC's poorer cousin, and that song was on infinite top-40 loop that summer. Lying in bed on a hot summer night, listening to that jackhammer and those dramatic minor chords, it just soaked into me.

Another great summer song is "Spill the Wine." As a kid, that tune, esp. the woman speaking spanish in the background - it was like a broadcast from outer space. All I knew of the city was what I saw on TV, but I knew that woman was sitting on a stoop on some exotic NYC backstreet, and I wished I was there with her.

And I could go on. But I think I'll download the mix and go listen to it in the hammock. With a cold drink. Lazing on a sunny afternoon.

Summer of George!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! You could also throw in Sinatra's "Summer Wind" & "Grazin' In The Grass", but we can all make our own Vol. 2.

A walk in the woods said...

You're on a roll lately Sal - great posts almost every day, and another great mix here. Thanks for the summer vibes!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the share. A nice mix and great to have some Dean Martin in there. He was so cool.



charlie c. said...

Expository intro floored me! Read it on my phone, so I didn't grasp the length . . . was expecting: "Hope you like it, I do!"
My memories, although vivid and tactile, aren't so site specific - we are always in Kevin's car. Kevin, Kevin, Mac and me. So it was a moveable feast! One spot stands out - a tiered parking lot at Wagner college with a breathtaking view of the VNB. Great times. Great tunes. The other locale might have been Mac's house. Father died young, mother went to Maine every summer (still does). So we . . . moved in! Beautiful tudor in a nice section of Staten Island. Grilling steaks in the stone fireplace, stacking cans of Bud, well, as high as they would stack . . . .
Would go back in a minute. Thanks bro!
(Funny, right, about summer - a boat load of summer tune age. Spring, Fall, Winter - whatever! Name me one great Autumn rock anthem!)

rick said...

great list, thanks sal...the two I'd add seem forever linked in my memory to transistor radios at jones beach: "friday on my mind" by the easybeats and"live for today" by the grass roots....stopped at the beach there last weekend while visiting family and "no radios" signs were posted all over the place...damn