Monday, August 19, 2013

Summer Fun, Summer Songs #GenFab

Sycamore Cove, California, July 2013
I grew up listening to awesome music, because I had two older sisters. My oldest sister led me down a more traditional and psychedelic rock path: The Beatles, The Fifth Dimension, The Moody Blues, The Rascals, Jefferson Airplane. My other sister liked all of the above, but added her own flavor: Smokey Robinson and the Temptations, Major Lance, The Doors, The Monkees, and Santana.

I loved all of "their" music, still do (although I am still extremely distressed that It's a Beautiful Morning is now a commercial for laxatives or happy pills or some such crap). But my first song, the first song I fell in love with all by myself, the first record album *I* bought, the first concert I went to, was all about summer and coming home.

via Wikimedia Commons
My album cover stated out light cream,
ended rather dingy and stained.
I remember lying in my bed, listening to the radio and hoping, praying, that they'd play my song again. (Remember those days, when the ONLY place to listen to a new song was on the radio?) Something about these chords, this song touched a chord in me. I loved the vocal harmonies, and the way the mandolin wove a second thread of melody around the acoustic guitar. The song seemed to perfectly encapsulate the caress of a gentle summer breeze. I loved the theme of a joyous reunion of lovers in the dusk, I could picture the curtains fluttering and the light shining through the window, (though now the sexism inherent in the little woman waitin' for her man, with dinner on the table, gags me).

I played the crap out of this record, on a tiny portable record player. (Remember record players, trying to drop the arm just so in the track to cue up that song we wanted to hear over and over again?) Loved Hummingbird, sobbed my eyes out to the melodramatic The Boy Down The Road. I still love this record, and although Summer Breeze is still my favorite song, as an adult I've come to appreciate the jazzier songs on this album, like The Euphrates.

Later, my brother (really my bro-in-law, but I always thought of him as my brother) took me to see Seals & Crofts at Universal Amphitheater, then a very plain outdoor venue. Concrete steps and concrete slabs for sitting on, which as a very young teenager I didn't even notice much, because,  music. Although I was a little disappointed that the live version didn't sound exactly like the record I had at home. Wasn't it supposed to?

Not long after, there was another song and band that really grabbed me, quite similar to S & C.

The lyrics to Ventura Highway are nonsensical in places. "Alligator lizards in the air," according to Dewey Bunnell, is a reference to cloud shapes that looked to him like alligator lizards. "Purple rain" was later borrowed by Prince, and the opening guitar riff and hook for Ventura Highway was sampled in Janet Jackson's Someone To Call My Lover.

Still, the whole song made me visualize/feel riding in a convertible full of friends, down the Ventura freeway on a warm summer day, headed for the beach, the sun shining, the sky blue, happy music playing and the wind blowing through my hair. Even if I've now gone down the 101 dozens of times, mostly jammed in traffic, sometimes even to the beach, and my ride has never happened exactly the way of my fantasy, I feel like I have.

And I got to see America in concert, too, with a girlfriend, in '77 or '78. This time I was expecting the music to sound slightly different from the studio version, but they were still great.

Now as a writer (and still music lover) I am still a sucker for those aching minor chords played on an acoustic or 12-string guitar, (and keyboards, and can also be led astray by a great bass riff or sax solo), but I always consider my characters' musical tastes, and what they grew up listening to.

More than politics, it's irreconcilable differences if my heroine loves music, and my hero does not, or, worse yet, is a country music freak. (I like a little country music, but too much twang = nails-on-a-chalkboard for me).

This is part of a Generation Fabulous Blogfest on the theme: Summer Songs and Why We Love Them. Click the links below to find more fabulous posts on the subject, and leave your feedback.

Do you have a favorite first summer song-love? 
Any summer song that has particularly stuck with you over the years?
Your thoughts?