Segarini: Here Comes Summer….

At the LakeCanada is not exactly known for its balmy weather and towering palms, so when Canadians feel the warmth of the sun on their faces, there is a kind of joy that those who live further south below America’s Hat and and the Northern States will never experience. Sunny warm weather frees the soul, and except for hipsters and Coldplay tribute bands, the toques come off, the shorts come on, and we Bob at the Beachembrace the great outdoors…especially patios, our gazillion lakes, and the streets of downtown Toronto, were there is music everywhere, crowded sidewalks, and a party atmosphere like no other. Even Montreal gets a break this year. The Weather Channel says that this year in Montreal, summer falls on a Saturday….

Here’s a collection of videos and some anecdotes to while away a hot, languid afternoon or enjoy anytime you feel the urge. These songs all impacted me in positive ways over the years and all of them have made a lasting impression.

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The humanity in this music, so often missing in music these days, doesn’t make me long for the past, but rather, excited to hear it returning as we speak. There is so much great music being made today, I have every reason to believe that music is healthier than ever, and the personal signature and the unique quality of well crafted songs is much more important than following the herd. Feel free to revisit all these songs as often as you like. Summer is just around the corner, Spring is more than sprung, and the music is all cued up and waiting for us. Shall we?

Louie Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald: Summertime

Yeah, it’s a classic song all right, written by George Gershwin for the opera “Porgy and Bess” back in 1935. The lyrics were written by author DuBose Heyward, who wrote the novel “Porgy”, which the opera was based on. Over the years a gazillion versions of this song have been recorded by everyone from Gershwin to Janis Joplin, and Billy Holiday to Fantasia (an American Idol winner, don’t’cha know). Of all the versions this one rings my bell. Two legends doing a great reading of a song that has been destroyed at more karaoke bars than “Don’t Stop Believin’”, and “Proud Mary”. Regardless of the version, this song captures the feel of summer with an atmosphere both hot and humid, and languid and thoughtful. I can here the crickets and frogs on the water, see the fireflies in the trees, and hear the riverboat’s horn in the distance.

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Eddie Cochran: Summertime Blues

The Who made it their own, and Blue Cheer pummeled it into a career, but the best version of this track is the original by Eddie Cochran. As influential a rocker as Elvis, Haley, Penniman, and Berry, Cochran’s performance of this song both in the studio and live, spoke for millions of teenagers back in the ‘50s whose lives were reflected in the lyric. Summer is all beach and parties and dreamy nights making out for some, for others, it was a sweltering break from school that meant finding a job and working for spending money. Eddie nailed it for the kids who couldn’t afford Spring Break, let alone a summer of leisure. As always, rock and roll’s greatness lies in its ability to tell the truth.

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The Jamies: Summertime, Summertime

Led by brother and sister Tom and Serena Jameson, The Jamies had a hit with this song (co-written by Tom and Sherman Feller, another member of the group) in the summer of 1958 (same as Summertime Blues) back when ‘summer’ records were as perennial and ubiquitous as Christmas songs in the winter. A group formed out of a church choir, The Jamies recorded for several years, but failed to ever match the success of this great, hummable earworm. Sherman Feller went on to become much more famous as the public address announcer for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Now THAT”S a great summer job.

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Percy Faith: Theme from a Summer Place

This came out in 1959. I was 13 years old and a frequent guest at ‘make out parties’ held in friend’s basements when mom and dad were busy at the Elks Club or down at the latest Masonic Temple installation or just asleep on the couch watching ‘Gunsmoke’. The best ones were at my friend Jeff Barkett’s house. Why? Because they had a full size billiard table in the basement, lots of overstuffed chairs and couches, and a wicked console record player that had a 45 adapter. We could stack 7 or 8 records on it and dance…and make out. If you left the arm off of the spindle adapter the last 45 would play over and over again. That 45 was always “Theme from a Summer Place”.

Originally written by Mack Discant and Max Steiner and recorded by Hugo Winterhalter (he of ‘Canadian Sunset’ fame), it was the love theme for Molly and Johnny (played by Sandra Dee (A blonde Megan Fox) and Troy Donahue (Also a blonde Megan Fox)) in the movie “A Summer Place”. The film was a chick-flick that no guy at these parties had ever seen, but Percy Faith’s recording of it was a HUGE hit (at number one for 8 weeks at one point, it is STILL the longest running number one instrumental of all time) but every girl had seen multiple times. When we were taking advantage of the song’s overwhelming (for the girls) romantic cachet, we closed our eyes and every girl became Sandra Dee, just like the girls probably thought of us as their own personal Troy Donahues and went limp in our arms while we played tonsil hockey. Making out didn’t mean what it does today. You were lucky to get to 2nd base if you were brave enough to try. We were all perfectly happy to just kiss until our lips were numb and we couldn’t walk properly for a day or two. The girls used to just stop panting, their rosy cheeks would return to their normal pink hue, and they would leave for home none the worse for wear. We boys, on the other hand, could barely walk, painfully aware that something was missing in the equation. Nevertheless, this song fueled a lot of great nights when I was a kid…I just wish the girls had been a bit more understanding of our plight, or that we were brave enough to go in for the kill. The summer of this song is still one of my fondest memories, but not so much for my testicles.

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The Beach Boys: All Summer Long

I could have just put the Beach Boys catalogue up here and let it go at that, but in truth, I thought these two songs exemplify the greatness of summer infused tune-dom. There are so many great Beach Boys tracks that float out of the speakers on a salt air breeze, that you could play nothing but their music in the dead of winter and STILL be glowing from a day at the beach. Therein lies greatness.

The Beach Boys: The Warmth of the Sun 

I defy you not to be swept away by the imagery in this song. Brian Wilson understood youth, summer, music, and atmosphere better than almost any other American writer ever. I am still overcome with memories and emotions every time I hear this glorious piece of music. Brian says he was not made for these times, but in all honesty, I believe he was made for ALL times. Sometimes when I listen to this track and close my eyes, I am transported to Pismo Beach outside of San Louis Obispo, or to the sunsets at Zuma or Manhattan Beaches in Southern California. I can smell the salt air and seaweed on the beach, hear the gulls wheeling through the sky overhead, feel the warm sand through my toes, the glow of a day at the beach on my skin, and remember the feel and heady scent of a beautiful girl of summer in my arms, wisps of sun-bleached hair tickling my cheeks, her skin made silky soft by the lotion, the Pacific lapping at our ankles every time a wave reaches the shore. Sometimes, when I close my eyes I experience all of this, and sometimes, when I open my eyes, there are tears in them.

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Chad and Jeremy: A Summer Song 

Another fine example of how well written the songs were during the British Invasion. Like Peter and Gordon, the other important duo from the era, Chad and Jeremy kept releasing songs that stuck with you without beating you over the head, and being witty and clever as only people raised on Oscar Wilde and the Huxley’s can be. I was in a band that was part of a huge review in the Bay Area that included The Kinks, Sonny and Cher, Chad and Jeremy, and others. I spent quality time with C & J (and Jeremy’s lovely wife, Jill) in their hotel room the afternoon before the show. Chad and Jeremy were sitting on the bed singing this song when Jill opened the curtains over the sliding glass doors and stood looking out over the landscaped garden pool outside. She was wearing a short sundress and the sun shone through the window making the dress almost transparent. The song, how beautiful she was, all added up to an image and can still conjure up all these years later. They were such nice people, and Jill was about the most gorgeous woman I had ever been in a room with, her Patti Boyd long straight hair, willowy perfect body, and a lilting British accent that made American girls sound harsh by comparison. It was a great show too, capped off by the Davies brothers getting into a fist fight onstage during the Kinks set. 

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Bob Dylan: Like a Rolling Stone 

Late summer in L.A, 1965. I was walking down Sunset from Vine Street on my way to the Whiskey to meet up with friends and hear some music. Everyone cruised the Sunset Strip in those days, a 2 or 3 mile stretch of Sunset that stood as ground zero for Teenage America at the time. Cars were bumper to bumper (mostly convertibles) filled with kids from the valley who had driven over the San Gabriel’s to spend a night in Hollywood partying. Every radio in every car was tuned to either KHJ, KRLA, or KFWB.  When this song came on, it spread from one car to the next, all of them tuning into the right station if they weren’t already, and turning up the volume. It was a perfect summer night, and as we walked down the street, this song continued to play from a hundred car radios following us down Sunset like a private theme song. We were young, we were dreamers, we were all away from home. We were ALL rolling stones that summer.

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Sly and the Family Stone: Hot Fun in the Summertime 

Granted, Sly was sometimes crazier than a shithouse rat, but the Bay Area never produced a more creative or talented iconoclast. I was still living in L.A in ‘69 (The Year of the Manson) and when this song would come on the radio, it would bring the cool rationale of San Francisco with it. There is something about the languid delivery to the verses in this song that makes you relax, and then the band kicks it up and you start to dance in your mind. A perfect antidote to the heat and humidity, and a complex piece of music that Sly and company make sound as easy as sipping a beer on a stoop. Timeless.

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Seals and Crofts: Summer Breeze 

The Wackers did a Saturday morning NBC television show in New York back in ’73 called ‘Take a Giant Step’. It was a big deal for us, so much so, that Gary Usher flew out to mix our two performances, which I wish to hell I had a copy of. On the bill with us were Astronaut Ed Swickert (a bit of a looney tune thanks to his time in space, a handful of Muppets, (or should I say Muppets full of hands), and Seals and Crofts. Imagine our disappointment when they showed up not live, but on tape. I wanted to tell them how much I love this song, but I was denied! Anyway, I tell them now; love this song, and thank you very much, and by the way, liked your work with The Champs and Glen Campbell, too.

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Diesel: Sausalito Summer Nights 

Hey, it’s Sausilito, it’s summer, and it’s night. More about California than summer, but wow, when you listen to this try to stop yourself from wanting to get into the Vista Cruiser and drive to the West Coast. Nothing says summer like a road trip…except Jill standing in that doorway in a sundress….

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Bryan Adams: Summer of 69 

I’ve included this here because I admire and like Bryan very much as both a fine talent and a good guy, and because while he was learning how to play the guitar in ’69, I was hiding under my bed in Laurel Canyon waiting for deranged Hippies to break into the house and write stuff on the living room walls with my entrails. Well, not really, but the Summer of ’69 for us in the basin would not end well for some. I prefer Bryan’s take on the year and then writing a song about it…how cool is that?

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The Partland Brothers: Soul City 

Also Canadian and written and recorded by two of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet. The Canadian Edition of Time Magazine called this track the great summer song of 1987. I tend to agree. Another couple of guys that I cannot, for the life of me, understand why they didn’t break through to mega success. They had the looks, the chops, the charisma, and the material. WTF?!

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Fourplay: A Summer Child

Fourplay epitomizes California summers for me. I have no idea why that is. They clearly have a New York vibe, they play music generally misunderstood by my peers, and there are very rarely any vocals. That said, this music is an 80 MPH trip over a levee surrounded by farmland and 1000 miles of waterways just outside of Stockton California. The sun is just setting in the West, Mt. Diablo is visible on the horizon, the breeze from the channels cools you and the wind gently whips through your hair while the music both relaxes and inspires you. As the sun finally sets, you pull the little Fiat Spyder convertible into the parking lots surrounding the many bars and bistros dotting the islands, find a barstool or a table, order a cold beer or a Jack and Coke, or a glass of wine from one of the local vineyards, and look at the menu to see whether you should order a barbecued tri-tip sandwich, deep fried asparagus, or plate of pasta. There are times when I really miss my home town. This is one of them. Written by Lee Ritenour to celebrate the birth of his daughter, watch the joy on his face when they play it. This is what music is all about.

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Segarini and Bishop: 1962

Back n 1976 when I was living in Montreal, I had  a real bad attack of homesickness for California. I have no idea why, but I began to long for Cosatanza’s enchiladas, tri-tip sandwiches, Pink’s hot dogs, Del Taco, cioppino, and those warm summer nights when you really could believe that California was the Promised Land. The food led me home to Stockton, and remembering Stockton led me to San Francisco and Los Angelos, and I locked in on the Beach Boys, the group whose music personified California like no musical entity before or since. I was inspired to write this song, thinking I would send it to the Beach Boys and if they recorded it, be a part of rejuvenating their career, maybe even reuniting them with Brian. Ths is just the unfinished demo I was going to send them…until I thought, what kind of an idiot would write a song about California’s beach lifestyle, young love, and times gone by for the originator and master of the genre, Brian Wilson? I decided not to finish the demo, and I never sent the song to them.

Enjoy your summer, enjoy these videos, and don’t forget to hydrate.

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Segarini’s regular column appears here every Friday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonBob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, osts The Bobcast every Monday night at Cherry Cola’s, and continues to write music, make music, and record.

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12 Responses to “Segarini: Here Comes Summer….”

  1. Ron Weekes Says:

    Bob, do you by chance remember which two Gary Usher mixed tracks you performed on “Take A Giant Step” back in ’73?

    • Yes…”Time Will Carry On” and (I think) “I Hardly Know Her Name” Time Will Carry on was amazing…I wish we would have gotten a copy before we left New York….

  2. Gordie Byrd Says:

    Happy summer, Bob. First time hearing ‘1962’. Beautiful song.

  3. Elmer Scofield Says:

    Bob, thank you for bringing back to me the sights, sounds, smells, music, emotions, and experiences of 50’s/60’s Stockton…and California. I was born and raised there, too, and have lived a world away…in Central Pennsylvania…for half of my life. You bring it all back for me…and make it come alive again. Gracias!

  4. Thanks again for putting into words, and the music, feelings that are dulled by time, but are just under the skin – and bringing them to the surface once again. Any way u can link the music so that it plays all the songs while we read your great blog. That would be great as well. Thx ML

  5. Strummer Says:

    Nice list Bob, a lot of these songs are on my summer song comp…2 more I’ll throw out there are Sunny Days by Lighthouse and Rockaway Beach by The Ramones…Have a nice summer, Cheers.

  6. Elmer Scofield Says:

    Bob, I also love your song-choices, especially “Summer Breeze” and “Summer of ’69”. If I were to add one more, it might be Fever Tree’s 1968 “San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native”…

  7. Bob, in regards to one of your earlier entries, I have finally found my suspect after many years. In regards to your little caper of doing doughnuts on the circle, I’m the officer that had to respond to take the vandalism report on your little escapade. But don’t worry, the statue of limitations are way past, but at least I’ve solved the mystery. Thanks a lot. LOL

  8. Ernie Williams Says:

    Love your blogs, just want to thank you

  9. Great list. Great tune. Great resolution of alleged misdeeds.

  10. Mr Mississauga Says:

    Hello Bob,

    Ty just popped over and told me what you’ve been up to, so I had to look you up/ Glad to hear all seems well and you certainly haven’t lost your sense of humour.

    Do you remember Mr and Mississauga? We remember you and still laugh at all the memories.

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