Generation Fabulous is both a group of women writers to whom I belong and the web magazine of the same name. The group founder is Chloe, then Anne and Sharon joined with her to create the magazine site. The topic for this month’s Gen Fab Blog Hop is Summer Songs.
Summer songs are songs of the summers of my youth. The earliest Summer Song I can remember was by the Lovin’ Spoonful.
“Hot time. Summer in the city. Back of neck getting dirty and gritty.”
In August 1966 I was 9 years old. “The City” was an exotic concept to my little farm girl mind. This song seemed complex and foreign to me at the time. It was a very grown up song. Why was he in the city? Was he alone? What city? It still makes me smile to connect with a younger version of myself. It also feels good to have a very young part of myself pop up and say hi from time to time.
That essentially is what summer songs really mean to me… they are vehicles to other times and earlier selves.
“I remember when rock was young….” High school for me that was when rock was young. Rock and roll was from a decade or two earlier than that. But rock was from my teen years. Rock differentiated into glam rock, arena rock, hard rock, soft rock, art rock, and religious rock.
Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (Album Version)
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The velvety melancholy of Summer Breeze has a haunting quality. I remember my best friend and I being in her bedroom listening to this song, to Cat Stevens album, Tea for the Tillerman, as well as to the James Gang and the Eagles. This is bittersweet. She died at age 21. Those summers I remember with her as a central person were long in a way that can only be appreciated by someone who has grown much older and seen the effect of time passing more and more quickly. I am glad I have in those long, still childlike, memories of laughter and music with her. We thought we were anything but children. “Hummingbird,” the follow-up hit that Seals and Crofts released the next year can bring me to tears in an instant. “Hummingbird, don’t fly away, fly away, don’t fly away…” When I hear it I want to reach back in time and grab my friend in a close, tight hug and tell her not to fly away.
There are more summer music memories. “Summertime and the living is easy…” Gershwin’s lyrics, yes, but it is Billie Holiday’s voice that I hear singing the lyrics in my head,
But “Mungo Jerry” also often pops to mind often when I think of summer songs. And like so many parts of my young there is a tinge of revulsion that comes to the surface if I think about the song. “If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal. If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel.” I still hate that line and how it makes me feel. Back in the back first half of the 1970s in the backwater where I grew up there was a Peyton Place sort of dual nature of the reality. An all white country, probably and “enforced” whiteness by some less than stalwart citizens. Girls were treated quite differently, dependent upon socio-economic status and where their daddy placed in the hierarchy of big frogs in that very small pond,
The different treatment and respect given to women versus men at that time was disgusting but it was everywhere and was the norm. Even the radical groups supposedly working for equality were “run” by the men and the typing and coffee-making was done by women. I know a couple of women who are my age who were predated upon by men in positions of power at the high school we attended. Is it any wonder that the boys our own age felt it was acceptable to harass and abuse us girls? Cultural signals that it was okay to treat women terribly and treat socially vulnerable girls even worse were everywhere in local, national, and even international culture. “If her daddy is poor… just do what you feel.” Much later in life I discovered that 1975 had some great non-pop, non-rock music going on.
Kool and the Gang, Summer Madness, comes to mind. If only all of the world could have been so smooth and sophisticated.