Soundtracks of summer
So much going on in the big town of Ephrata but after such a serious column last week, and with summer slipping away, it really is time for something fun.
Back in June as I was preparing for a long road trip, I did what I do every summer &tstr; make one of my classic “mix tapes” for the car. Now we all know they aren’t really tapes any longer, but despite the fact that my kids and just about everyone else plugged into modern times uses MP3 players, Ipods and phones to store and play their music &tstr; I still do it the “old-fashioned” way with CDs.
The history of my mix tapes really is about my lack of patience for songs that aren’t great. Sure, you don’t know what’s great without trying new tunes but like I said, my patience is kind of like Rachel Stauffer’s when it comes to teaching her a new game…15 seconds into reading the instructions, she is sound asleep and done for the night. But seriously, when it comes to music, especially on a sweet road trip, I want music going through the car that will take me away before the trip does. I have “Pusser’s (a story for another time) Power Play cassettes in my basement dating back to the start of college in the fall of 1982. It is quite the collection, with a lot of heavy metal from that era, a move into alternative by mid-decade when I was old enough to go to clubs like The Village and listen to bands like The Press Club. Being single and unsure of life’s path in the late ‘80s probably led to a bunch of sappy love song mixes and then after that it is pretty much of a blend of everything. I pride myself in having a broad taste in music and hopefully my mix tapes reflect that. But nothing takes up more space in this collection than music from the ‘70s. Though I wasn’t doing mix tapes back then, I certainly had music in my ears constantly and it was wonderful. These songs lift me up when I’m down, and quickly transport me to the front porch of my Akron home as the neighbor on 11th Street had it cranked up, the teen center at the pool, or a picnic table at Broad Street park. How could that not put me in a good mood?
So recently I saw a poll go up online about what would be “the songs of summer 2014?” Songs like “Wiggle,” “Safe and Sound,” “Little Talks,” “Summer,” “Fancy” and “Rude” are all contenders along with the most recent offering by the woman who seems to be the queen of summer anthems &tstr; Katy Perry, with “Birthday.”
So this got me thinking about my love for the ‘70s and specifically what tunes were my “songs of summer?” In fact, I wanted to go back and look at all the summers of my life, from birth to graduating high school anyway…and hopefully many of our readers will relate to what I found. I actually jumped back to 1960 in honor of the year my mom graduated high school, and 1961, the year my big sis’ Angie was born. Since I was only born in 1963, ‘62 is thrown in as a bonus. Using Billboard charts, I picked what is often used as the middle-point of summer, the time around the Fourth of July, as a guide. I didn’t necessarily pick the top songs of that given week, but rather the songs I think will be familiar to most hopefully…or at least to me anyway.
1960: “Alley-Oop,” “I’m Sorry,” “Cathy’s Clown,” and “Wonderful World” were all part of my mom’s summer after graduation. The latter of course is played during my favorite scene from Animal House &tstr;John Belushi going through the lunch line.
1961: “Tossin’ and Turnin’,” “Barbara Ann,” and “Stand By Me.” The last is perfect because if you have ever seen the movie, it is set in the summer of this time period and it is wonderful. Happy birthday Angie!
1962: “The Stripper,” and “Roses are Red.” How do you like that contrast?
1963: The summer before I was born, my parents were enjoying “It’s My Party,” “One Fine Day” and “Surf City.” Seemed like a fun time.
1964: Of course best known as the year those Beatles guys hit the scene, “Love Me Do,” was right there that summer with “I Get Around,” by the Beach Boys and other hits like “World Without Love,” “Chapel Of Love,” and “Rag Doll.”
1965: “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Satisfaction,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “Woolly Boolly” gave a nice mix to that summer.
1966: “Paperback Writer,” “Wild Thing,” “Paint It Black,” and the Chairman of the Board on the scene with “Strangers In The Night.”
1967: Perhaps the greatest summer for memorable songs in the top 40 all at once. What fun it must have been as the “hippie” generation started to take hold even two years before this thing called “Woodstock” unfolded. “San Francisco,” “Windy,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” “Don’t Sleep In The Subway,” “Up And Away,” “Let’s Live For Today,” “Groovin’,” “Tracks Of My Tears,” “Light My Fire,” “Whiter Shade Of Pale,” and the Aretha classic, “Respect.” Wow.
1968: “This Guy’s In Love,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Mrs. Robinson,” and “Lady Willpower,” from one of my dad’s favorites, Gary Puckett And The Union Gap.
1969: Though Woodstock dominated that summer, its songs weren’t at the top of the charts at that time for the most part. But still lots of memorable tunes here like “Spinning Wheel,” “Good Morning Starshine,” “Get Back,” “My Cheri Amour,” and the first mention of The King to this point…with his classic, “In The Ghetto.” One song that was definitely performed at Woodstock which played all that summer was “Bad Moon Rising,” by Credence Clearwater Revival.”
1970: “Love You Save,” by the Jackson Five; “Ride Captain Ride” and “Band Of Gold.” First mention of the Carpenters &tstr; also one of my and my father’s favorites &tstr; with “Close To You,” and one of the last listings by the Beatles with “Long and Winding Road.”
1971: Very mellow summer with Carole King’s haunting “It’s Too Late,” James Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” and Carly Simon’s amazing “That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be.”
1972: Elton takes off with “Rocket Man,” and don’t forget Alice’s ultimate summer anthem, “School’s Out.”
1973: “Kodachrome” and “Playground In My Mind.”
1974: “Rock The Boat,” “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero,” and “Band On The Run.”
1975: The song which clearly represents being at the Ephrata teen center standing in line for four-square all afternoon is “Magic” by Pilot. In honor of Jim Garner, “Rockford Files,” theme was huge too.
1976: One song says it all, “Afternoon Delight.”
1977: “Jet Airliner,” “Undercover Angel,” and yes, “Margaritaville” hits the charts.
1978: “Shadow Dancing,” “Baker Street,” and “Life’s Been Good.”
1979: Really marked the debut of the ‘80s megabands like Van Halen, Cheap Trick and The Cars. Donna Summer was huge also though with “Hot Stuff,” and “Bad Girls,” and even the Orioles fans can’t forget the theme song of the champion Pirates, “We Are Family,” by Sister Sledge.
1980: “Funky Town,” and “Call Me,” the Blondie theme song from American Gigolo.
1981: Lots of girls names here with “Bette Davis Eyes,” “Jessie’s Girl,” and the one and only “Elvira.”
1982: And we wrap it up with the advent of the MTV era with “Don’t You Want Me?” “Let It Whip,” and of course the Rocky III theme, “Eye Of The Tiger.”
So there you have it, please share your thoughts on what’s special to you for this is a fun game which be ending with more and more headphones and less “public playing” of the songs of summer.
It’s a shame but either way, let the music play ‘til those school bells ring and create your own soundtracks of summer.
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