It rarely isn’t summer in Florida. At least, in terms of New York weather, It rarely isn’t summer in Florida.
With that in mind, it’s not to issue my Summer Playlist 2022.
As indicated in a previous blog entry, this year, I will forego the listing of single songs that have long enkindled in me the thoughts, sounds, and even smells of summer. Instead, I will focus on the albums of my summer youth.
Particularly the late 60s and early 70s, as this was the era when so much great music was readily available, and I had the cash to buy it.
It should come as no surprise that my summer playlist should include a few soundtracks. The late 60s and early 70s provided quite a few seminal films containing exquisite music.
Therefore, the first album on my list is the Soundtrack to 2001 A Space Odyssey.
Containing only snippets of a few examples of classical music, this Soundtrack was an essential component of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece.
It was not unusual for a few friends and me to be found in our friend PJ’s basement, huddled around a black and white tv tuned to a station offering no television signal at all. The static we stared into resembled cosmic space and the billions of stars represented by the seemingly millions of flashing white dots. It was interesting to learn later that this static we were so enthralled to stare into was, in fact, actual cosmic noise. Perhaps a hint of the remnants of the Big Bang.
It was 1969, after all.
I always considered the Beatles to be classical musicians in that their music was not constrained by time. It was as relevant this year as it had been five or sixty years ago.
So, on my Summer Playlist, I have included Revolver and Let It Be. Additionally, I listened to Yesterday and Today, an album only issued in America.
Then there is The Byrds.
The first time I heard the opening to their version of Bob Dylan’s Mr. Tamborine Man, I was a fan. In fact, one of the first albums I bought when I finally had a stereo was The Byrds Greatest Hits. I then purchased all the albums in their catalog and still listen to their music today, summertime or not.
But each summer had Notorious Byrd Brothers, Turn Turn Turn, Fifth Dimension, and Younger Than Yesterday stacked on my To Listen To pile, ready for my auditory pleasure.
Blind Faith came out with Blind Faith, a classic album with no follow-up material. Combining Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood Blind Faith mesmerized me in the summer of 69, but it had you yearning for more. Nevertheless, it is on my list.
But even before Blind Faith, Crosby Stills and Nash issued their first album. So many of us played this album on and on, it’s a wonder we didn’t damage our needle or wear a hole into the vinyl. If this album isn’t on your playlist, I think you have some explaining to do.
CSN and sometimes Y came out with a new album each successive summer, including DejaVu and Four Way Street.
Iron Butterfly gave us In-A-Gadda-Davida. The thing you have to remember was this era provided not only a deluge of music to select but also cheap music to select. It was not unusual to purchase an entire album because you liked one of the songs included.
There was only one song on this album that I ever listened to, In-A-Gadda-Davida. Remember that this song was over 17 minutes long, so I never felt that I hadn’t received good value for my purchase. Besides, it is one of the classic songs of a classic generation.
When I was in high school, I became a fan of the Grass Roots. So, I purchased Golden Grass, a greatest hits album that occupied much of my time in the summer of 69.
New Years Eve 1969 came, and I found myself ensconced in Times Square with my friends PJ and Lou. Gratefully, these were the days that did not require the wearing of adult diapers in order to take part in the festivities.
The only trepidation we had concerned the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority, whose union members threatened a New Year’s Day strike.
We were able to get home by subway in, all things considered, pretty good shape for a New Years Eve. Waiting for our Pelham Bay connection for ten minutes gave us pause to worry, but worries were put aside as our subway approached the station.
So, 1970 brought in yet another year of fantastic, classical rock and roll music.
Another soundtrack made my list.
That summer, we went to see Easy Rider in the Circle Theatre in The Bronx on Hugh Grant Circle. The storyline was current for the day as it employed two necessary ingredients to hold our attention: anti Establishment behavior and great music.
Never before and probably never since have audiences been enthralled with two drug dealers. I believe it had something to do with hearing Born To Be Wild, Wasn’t Born To Follow, and If Six Were Nine.
If not the lifestyle, the music kept me tuned in (or was I tuned out?) the rest of that summer.
In addition to Easy Rider, the three-record set of Woodstock arrived at Sam Goodies and EJ Korvettes, and those of us, who had missed the event of the century, were at least able to re-live the experience sans the mud and porta-potties.
Neal Young had joined Crosby, Stills, and Nash and first appeared with them at Woodstock. Just around the same time that Woodstock arrived, so too did Deja Vu, the second album issued by CSN and now CSNY.
The Soundtrack of a generation continued.
I also was fond of an older Rolling Stones album. Issued in 1967 as a companion to the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Stones, Their Satanic Majesties Request, offered their own sampling from the psychodelicatessan.
Time never seems to go that fast when you are young and in school. However, my junior year in college, which began in September of 1970, seemed to dispose of me abruptly into the summer of 1971 and the approaching of the end of my formal education.
Fortunately, I had some excellent music to soften the blow.
CSNY gave us a live two-disc album, Four Way Street.
Jethro Tull sprung Aqualung on us in all its midlevel splendor.
I was introduced to Procol Harem’s, A Salty Dog, on the evening we returned from our three-day stay on Hot Dog Beach in the Hamptons. The echo of “Three Days Man” from David Crosby’s admiration of the endurance of the Woodstock attendees still brings back a life-changing weekend.
Rod Steward rasped Every Picture Tells A Story, and, even without knowing her, we all fell in love with Maggie Mae.
Traffic had me listening to John Barleycorn Must die, Cat Stevens gave us Teaser, and The Firecat and Peace Train became one of my anthems.
Then there was Melanie.
Melanie was the Ethel Merman of folk.
She needed no sound system to deliver her lessons and commentary on the day. Candles In The Rain inspired me to see her perform in Central Park.
In those days, Schaeffer Beer sponsored fantastic concerts and ridiculously low prices. For a buck, you could sit in the cheap seats. A buck and a half got you right in front of the stage. If funds were low, you could sit outside the Wollman Rink and hear the concert for free.
When Melanie appeared, a building on the west side would have its top floors lighting arranged to form a big M. Melanie had a great publicist.
And so, the summers of my college years came to an end, but the music continued to mesmerize and delight.
The Moody Blues, Carly Simeon, James Taylor, Don Mclean, and others would continue to inspire and entertain me.
Listening to this music then and now is like reading a great book. Whether the words are sung or read, if they are artfully presented, they brush our souls much as they alter our minds.
It’s always summer in Florida, and it may not be too early where you are to start thinking about your summer playlist.