September 7, 2011 issue

Arts & Entertainment

10 songs capture thrills and spills of summer

Bernard Heydorn

What are your favourite songs of summer – the songs that you always remember? These are ten of my favourites from School is Out to Summer is Over which I have ranked from Number 10 to Number 1.
In 1972 Alice Cooper with heavy make up and loud guitars came out with School is Out, my Number 10 choice. The song spoke of the joys of the first day of the summer holidays – no teachers, no principal, no classes – out forever. When I was in school we used to sing, "No more Latin, No more French, No more sitting on a hard school bench".

Fred Eaglesmith at one of his gigs

The anthem of youthful freedom and the summer holidays is a recurring theme. Little do students know that the teachers look forward to the summer break as much if not more than they do!
In 1963 Nat King Cole came out with Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer, my Number 9 choice. He sang of "days of soda and pretzels" and the wish that summer would always be here. Images of the drive-in cinema, girls in bikinis, locking up the house and going to picnics are conjured up.
Number 8 for me is The Summer Knows, theme song from the movie "Summer of '42", from the year 1971 The theme is one of coming of age in 1942 on summer vacation on Nantucket Island off the coast of New England. A story of summer romance and nostalgia, it tugs at the heart strings. The song has been a pop standard for many artists like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and others.
With lyrics - "The Summer smiles, The Summer knows, And unashamed, She sheds her clothes. There's little more, For her to tell, One last caress, It's time to dress For Fall…", one can never forget the charm and romance of summer.
Number 7 is Summer in the City. This Lovin' Spoonful hit of 1966 brings in the cacophony of the city and the "hippy" age. "Come on, come on, and dance all night, despite the heat it will be all right. Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting burnt and gritty," sings John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful.
The song reminds me of my first Summer in the city of Toronto, the Summer of '66. There is the backdrop of honking horns, jackhammers, a city growing by leaps and bounds with construction all around.
Number 6 is Otis Redding's Dock of the Bay. This 1967 hit was recorded just days before the singer's tragic death. "Watch the ships roll in and I watch them roll away again" just fitted the life of a "limer" and endless summer.
I have this record in my 1951 Wurlitzer jukebox and it sounds great with the whistling and the seabirds, the water lapping the dock, and the smooth velvet voice of Otis Redding. The theme of being able to relax and "kick back" and enjoy the simple pleasures of life is one that we can all learn from.
Coming in at Number 5 is Under the Boardwalk. This 1964 Drifters classic is a standard at dancehalls. The picture of the boardwalk, catching some shade, down by the beach, getting steamy with a summer chick, is one that I cannot get out of my mind. This rumba is one that we use regularly in our dance classes.
Number 4 is the nostalgic A Summer Song by Chad and Jeremy from 1964. It's a song of sad farewell to summer, a feeling many folks get at this time of the year. Summer kisses, summer breeze, summer days, memories that will pick you up in the long winter months ahead.
Number 3 is Theme from a Summer Place. Taken from the 1959 film of the same name, Percy Faith and his Orchestra recorded the most popular version of the tune. Covered by many artists over the years, the song brings back my youth to me in a nostalgic, romantic way. The movie starred Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue.
It comes as no surprise that Number 2 is the classic Summertime. A jazzy, bluesy, funky song, it has both instrumental and vocal versions. Composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess, it's almost a spiritual so moving and haunting. The instrumental version I like best is the twin guitars of Santo and Johnny. Billie Holiday's vocal version captures the song in its essence.
My Number 1 selection is one you may not have heard – Fred Eaglesmith's Summer is Over, ( 2006). Eaglesmith is a local country rock musician from Port Dover. The song has beautiful if sad imagery - "Summer is over and the turnstiles are seized, The Ferris wheel spins by itself in the breeze, And the September breezes are bringing winter along, Summer is over and my baby's gone."
I guess that just about sums it up, from School's Out to Summer is Over. I hope you had a great summer of song and laughter, and are still enjoying what is left of it. If the creeks don't rise and the sun still shines I'll be talking to you.


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