Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Boys Of Summer: Nerd anthem?

The end of softball season signaled that summer was waning.

Fall arrived a couple of weeks ago, when I started working out to get ready for next summer. It takes that long when you’re older than dirt.

My iPod is my constant companion at the Y. I have a mild hearing loss, so I sometimes get a better understanding of songs, especially lyrics, when I hear them on the headphones.

So it is with “The Boys Of Summer,” the Don Henley song from 1984 that has long been one of my faves. The line that caught my attention was this:

“I feel it in the air. Summer’s out of reach.”

Yes, I thought, it is.

As I listened more closely to the rest of that familiar song, I realized this: “The Boys of Summer” is a nerd anthem.

Perhaps you were friends with the boys (or girls) of summer, perhaps loving them from afar, but never hooked up with them as you’d hoped. Still, you never will forget those nights.

There’s hope.

Maybe, someday, they’ll see that you, too, have something cool and beautiful going on, something that still goes strong after the boys (or girls) of summer have gone.

Then you won’t have to show them what you’re made of.

“The Boys Of Summer,” Bree Sharp, from “More B.S.,” 2002. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

The folks at the fine Star Maker Machine blog shared this laid-back cover a couple of years ago. It’s from the second solo release by Sharp, a Philadelphia-born singer, songwriter and actress. She now performs as part of Beautiful Small Machines, a duo with her longtime writing partner Don DiLego.

A couple other covers worth seeking out: The punk-pop version by the Ataris, which had a Black Flag sticker on that Cadillac and came out nine years ago this month, and the dance version by the UK’s DJ Sammy, which came out 10 years ago this November.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under September 2012, Sounds

Picture this: Found just in time

My dad and I hit the road on Labor Day, a trip that yielded some nice surprises. Not long after we arrived at my aunt’s house for a visit, she handed me a small album full of old family pictures.

Janet and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and our wedding was in those pictures. This picture, our first dance, was among them.

The only pictures we have from that Labor Day weekend bash in 1987 were taken by family and friends. The photographer we hired was mortified to find, after the fact, that there were no pictures from our wedding. Technical difficulties.

We showed this picture to Evan, our 17-year-old son. He looked at it and said: “Nice amp.”

And now, the rest of that story.

Janet has long had a wonderful gift for handling my many quirks with patience and grace. She needed it as we planned the wedding. Then as now, we had a big record collection. I thought it would be fun to have the music at the reception come from our albums. So we did that.

If I could do it over, we would hire a band instead of renting a sound system with that “nice amp” and tell that clueless music nerd where to stick his mix tapes. They were dreadful.

After hearing what likely was one too many Dave Edmunds song, quite possibly “I Knew The Bride,” Janet’s aunt asked whether we had anything besides “that cowboy music.” Aunt June was right. How bad was it? The Georgia Satellites’ “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” was on one of those mix tapes. Gahhhhh.

By the end of the evening, one of our guests had become so weary of our mix tapes that he went out to his car, grabbed a Springsteen tape and demanded we play it instead. At that point, we turned off the sound system and adjourned to a bar for the rest of the night.

If I could do it over, our first dance would be to something more sophisticated than Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” At the time, I was really into Elvis. Again, gahhhhh.

It would have been more fun for everyone — and Aunt June probably would have approved — had we danced our first dance to this.

“Just In Time,” Dean Martin, from “This Time I’m Swingin’!” 1960. He’s backed by a wonderful big band led by the incomparable Nelson Riddle. Its big horns evoke the nightclub era at its peak. (This rip is from “The Best Of Dean Martin,” a 1966 compilation on Capitol Records.)

Just in time, I found you just in time

Janet has long loved old musicals, and this tune comes from “Bells Are Ringing,” the 1956 Broadway musical. Few songs have a pedigree better than this one. Jule Styne wrote the music. Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the lyrics.

You found me just in time
And changed my lonely life that lucky day

This was cut at the Capitol Recording Studio in Hollywood on May 17, 1960, the last day of a nine-day session during which Dino was really in a groove.

The LP is out of print but the song is available on “Dino: The Essential Dean Martin,” a Capitol CD that lives up to its billing. It was re-released last year with six tracks added to the original 2004 release.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.


Filed under September 2012, Sounds

A little variety from Ray’s Corner

There was a crisis at Ray’s Corner the other day.

My dad, who is 87, dropped his TV remote. It shattered. Without it, he can’t watch TV. Watching TV has been my dad’s main source of entertainment for as long as I can remember. You can see where this might be a problem. So we got him a new remote and managed to fix the old one.

However, there still are no variety shows for him to watch.

In the ’60s and ’70s, we frequently heard the sophisticated pop songs of Hal David and Burt Bacharach on those shows. At the time, they worked most often with singer Dionne Warwick, of whom David once said: “She always interprets my lyrics in a way that sounds as though she had written them herself.”

Four years ago, I took Dad to see Dionne Warwick.  I was certain Dad would remember her from those long-ago variety shows. He didn’t. But once his hearing aid was adjusted, and he heard the songs, he recognized them. That night, Warwick performed two Bacharach-David tunes — “I Say A Little Prayer” and “Do You Know The Way To San Jose” — with new, Latin-flavored arrangements and new phrasing. They sounded just fine.

That’s what makes them classics, and why the songs of Hal David — who died earlier today at 91 — are timeless. No matter who interprets them, they usually sound just fine. (Well, those Isaac Hayes covers might be an acquired taste.)

David and Bacharach worked together from 1957 to 1973, an arc that matches the first 16 years of my life, a time often spent watching TV with my dad. Enjoy, as we did, a little variety, some of the most familiar versions of Hal David’s songs, and some covers.

“What The World Needs Now Is Love,” Jackie DeShannon, 1965, from “The Very Best Of Jackie DeShannon,” 1975. The original version. David and Bacharach didn’t think this was such a good song after they wrote it. “We put it away in our desk drawer and kept it hidden there for 10 months,” David once said. “A flop, we thought.”

“This Guy’s In Love With You,” Al Wilson, from “Searching For The Dolphins,” 1968. Herb Alpert did the original version earlier that year.

“(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me,” R.B. Greaves, from “R.B. Greaves,” 1969. Warwick did the original version as a demo in 1963. Lou Johnson had the first hit with it in 1964. It’s such a great song that it became a hit all over again in 1983 for the British synth-pop duo Naked Eyes.

“One Less Bell to Answer,” the 5th Dimension, from “Portrait,” 1970. Out of print, but available digitally. The original version, with Marilyn McCoo’s tremendous vocals.

Finally, a little glimpse of one of those old variety shows.

That’s Tom Jones, of course, doing “What’s New Pussycat.” In 1965, he did the original, for which David and Bacharach were nominated for an Oscar for best original song.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under September 2012, Sounds