Is it possible to fall in love with somebody just by hearing her sing? I think it is, because that’s how I feel about English pop singer Kirsty MacColl. Hers is one of my all-time favorite voices, one that is largely unknown in this country, and that’s a damn shame. ‘He’s on the Beach‘ is definitely one of my Songs of Summer. It’s one of my Songs of Anything, period.
When compiling lists of summer songs, one should never stray too far from Brian Wilson…it’s just common sense. ‘On the Island‘ is a track from his 2015 album No Pier Pressure, and it’s a breezy, easy-going little number featuring M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel, better known as She & Him. This song is about as close as you’re going to get on this list to a Jimmy Buffet song from a lyrical point of view. A song about a couple getting away to a tropical island. That’s it. No deep meanings here whatsoever.
Time for more righteous surf sounds! There’s never a bad time for more surf tunes. In fact, I often turn to classic surf instrumentals on days when I’m just not feelin’ it, when my mojo’s up and left the building. There’s something about those twangin’ guitars, those jungle drums, those honkin’ saxophones that gets into my ears and alters my brain chemistry. And this surf tune is one of my faves; I wanted to share it before I ran out of Songs of Summer. There’s so many classic surf tracks out there, but let me let you in on a dirty little secret: A lot of them sound kind of the same. A surf instrumental is built around a rather simplistic formula, which is one of the reasons they all sound so damn cool. But it’s also why, when you really boil it all down, they are all very similar sounding.
Imagine a world….imagine a world where Hollywood bad boy Robert Mitchum decided to take a break from playing the heavy in flicks and breakin’ the law to step into a recording studio and cut an album. Imagine that album was not a rock and roll album or a collection of standards, but an album consisting entirely of calypso music. I can tell you that the world in which this all happens is real. It’s a place called 1957.
Paul McCartney was in The Beatles; this is a known fact. The Beatles were the biggest, best and most influential band in rock and pop history. Another known fact. A lesser known fact is that to a kid like me, born in 1969 as The Beatles were winding down, and raised in the 70’s, I was much more familiar with Sir Paul McCartney’s second band Wings than I was with The Beatles.
I have another playlist rule I’d like to share with you: A little Motown never hurts any playlist. And when it comes to summer music, Motown is a must. Here’s the first of several classic Motown tracks I’ll be adding to the Songs of Summer List, ‘Sir Duke‘ by Stevie Wonder.
I’m just reading about how today, the last day of June, 2015, gets one extra second. We have to occasionally do stuff like that to keep our calendar from getting out of whack. Why? Because the Earth’s rotation isn’t a perfectly timed thing. The effect of gravity from other celestial bodies like the moon have a tendency to mess with our planet’s rotational speed. How anybody’s figured this out is way beyond me, I’ll just assume they used math or something. Anyway, the rotation of the Earth sometimes goes a little wacky and we have to jimmy the calendar to fix it, so we don’t end up a thousand years from now celebrating Christmas in the middle of March.
It’s hard for us today to imagine just how popular The Beach Boys were, especially in their earliest days. Their unique blend of surf-type sounds and amazing vocals about fun, sun, girls, and cars made it feel like summer at the beach no matter where the listener was located, or the time of year.
Another song with no connection to summer, but it’s one of my Songs of Summer nonetheless. I like my playlists to be eclectic affairs, with songs from different eras and different genres. I get tired of playlists, and especialy radio stations, that only play songs of a particular time period of musical genre. That’s boring. My Songs of Summer list is no exception, and to me any decent group of summertime songs has got to have a little bit of Latin rhythm.
Detroit’s own all-female rock band, Nikki & The Corvettes provide us with today’s Song of Summer. According to legend, Nikki Corvette was hired by a friend in 1978 to play at a local bar. Problem was, Nikki didn’t have a band, so she quickly threw one together and, without one rehearsal, played together for the first time at that bar show. How rock and roll is that?