Frank Gutch Jr: Hot Damn! Summer In the City? I Knew a Girl Named Summer Once…


Only one.  I was running combine for a small farmer outside of Halsey, Oregon and was hauling grass seed to a warehouse on the outskirts of Harrisburg.  The warehouse was a stone’s throw away from what I considered a very nice ranch-style house with a big picture window through which I saw her the first time, a small girl… a waif of a girl, but so beautiful it took my breath away.

The first time we dropped off a load, she stood in the window and I was thinking maybe she was looking at me but knew better.  The next time she came out of the house and walked over to the warehouse to stand and watch.  Unnerving, to say the least.  She looked to be about fifteen but was in fact only fourteen and I… well, I was approaching my sixteenth birthday and learning all about girls.  Not really.  They scared me to death, especially when they were in my presence.  Over the course of the next two weeks, we developed a relationship, mostly silent and anxiety-laden.  We did talk.  I told her my name and she told me hers. I think we said hello and goodbye a couple of times.   The truth was that I was tongue-tied and could not believe my good fortune to have attracted such a beauty.  Seriously.  I could not believe it.  So when we switched fields (the farmer contracted to combine individual plots of land over about a month and a half of late summer (my fingers are jittery just typing that), we switched warehouses and I never saw her again.  Story of my life.  One afternoon, while we stood together drinking Coca-Cola out of a small bottle (cost— one dime from a standup dispenser), this song came on and in my heart it became our song because I knew the end was near.  Oh, but she was a beautiful young thing.  I can still see her in my mind’s eye.

It wasn’t that many months before that I became enthralled with a duo I was to confuse with Chad & Jeremy for years to come— Peter & Gordon.  There must have been a girl involved then too.  In those days I fell in love every five minutes if there was a girl with eyesight.  Young love.  Even in my late years it feels the same.  Girls these days prefer to stay out of my line of sight, though.  The music is still good, though.

When I was young and just beginning to experience the call of the wild, music was everything.  I took dance lessons at the VFW Hall in the seventh grade (didn’t everyone?) and when we were done, many of us walked past The Spring Drive-In a couple of doors down the street and would drop in for some fries or a coke.   I dropped in for the jukebox.  Before they put individual jukebox song choosers in the booths, they had one big Wurlitzer against the wall.  I would walk over with a quarter and punch this song three times.  First time, it only played once and I asked the waitress about it.  She handed me a quarter and said that the machine only recognized a song once no matter how many times you punched it in.  From that point on, I would hang out around the jukebox and punch in this song each time it ended until the quarter was used up.  My friends would threaten to toss me out or tie me up, but they allowed me my fun.  One of my very favorite all-time songs.

Ah, the early days.  I think I was not quite fifteen when I first heard this.  Again, no girl, but it broke my heart anyway.

Of course there was actually a time that girls did not control everything.  Sometimes it was just about summer.  I was ten or eleven when this was a hit and all I could think was baseball and fishing.  I was playing Little League with my pal Dennis Smith (the best ballplayer I ever played with) and was rocking out to this little beauty.  Youngsters have to realize that production values were a crapshoot in those days.  Today when I hear it, it sounds better for the sparse sound.

The Lovin’ Spoonful had had a few hits by the time they came up with their anthem of the summer.  Do You Believe in Magic, You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice, Daydream, and Do You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind? Topped the charts before they got their first bona-fide #1 smash hit, and it was a doozy.  This song dominated the summer of 1966.  Wotta band!

The Five Americans didn’t make their way into Oregon until the Spring of 1966 but when it hit, it lasted.  This song got more airplay during the summer than the artists who by then were way ahead of it on the charts.

The labels and writers began using the term “anthem of the summer” way back during The Beach Boys‘ onslaught on the Top Ten.  Come to think of it, Jan & Dean as well.  Every summer someone would find a song which should have (and usually did due to massive airplay)left all other songs in the dust from June until school.  I gave up on the whole idea when the media picked a Sheryl Crow song which I thought was much less than the earmark.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like Crow plenty, but that song just didn’t warrant the hoopla, you know?  So I began picking my own tracks.  Like, way back in ’81 when these guys should have blown everyone else to the side of the road.  I mean, this song SCREAMS summer!

’75 had one hell of a song of summer in Flash Cadillac & The Continental KidsHot Summer Girls.  Shades of The Beach Boys and Sha Na Na.  Hot stuff!

A couple of years ago, three elementary school teachers laid down a son g which should have locked up the anthem of summer honors early, but somehow people did not hear it.  I sure as hell did.  Not only should this have charted, it should  have been a smash!  The band made up for it more recently when they scored with the theme from the movie Ghostbusters 2.  And they are still cranking them out.

What is it with people these days?  They ask, what’s worth listening to and I tell them The Pick Brothers and they ask, who else?  Makes me want to kick some teeth in.  This band is hot and should be given the credit and praise it deserves.  I mean, listen to this, fer Chrissakes!

Sometimes all it takes is an up beat to get me to rocking and isn’t rocking what the summer is all about?  JD Malone & The Experts have been rocking the East Coast for awhile now.  Time they got some extended jam summer recognition.  I dig this song!

The first time I heard Black Licorice, lead-off track for River Rouge‘s Not All There Anymore album, I got high. Swear to God. I broke out in a sweat and wanted to dance. There was just enough Sir Douglas and Thee Midniters in the song to get the heart to pumping and, boy, did it pump! Enough to play it over and over for a good thirty miles trying to figure out those damn lyrics. Sure, it was a bit muddy and there was the tire noise, but damn it, songs like this are SUPPOSED to be slightly muddy. They aren’t MEANT to sound like they were freshly recorded at Abbey Road or Ardent studios. They were meant to get the toes a-tapping and all I can say is that it does that job just fine.

Which makes it eligible for anthem of the summer.  Am I right?  I would have loved to have been in the audience the night this was filmed.  I’m pretty sure it must have been summer.

Know what?  I have to go.  I am heading out tonight on a drive to Los Angeles.  Hoping to catch Daisy House on the fifth at the IPO bash.  Unfortunate for you, I will be back.  Hopefully, loaded for bear.

No Notes again this week.  I am getting lazy in my old age.


Frank’s column appears every Tuesday

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dbawis-button7Frank Gutch Jr. looks like Cary Grant, writes like Hemingway and smells like Pepe Le Pew. He has been thrown out of more hotels than Keith Moon, is only slightly less pompous than Garth Brooks and at Frank bottle capone time got laid at least once a year (one year in a row). He has written for various publications, all of which have threatened to sue if mentioned in any of his columns, and takes pride in the fact that he has never been quoted. Read at your own peril.”

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