(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
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