Tag Archives: 2002

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

12 days of Christmas, Day 2

Do you go to see Christmas shows?

Last month, we went across town to see a high school production of “White Christmas” which turned out to be quite dazzling. Of course, this is a school that supports music like some schools support football. You get the idea.

(As I watched, I kept thinking that the kids from our son’s musical — probably half the number involved in this production — would at any moment deliver that “Blazing Saddles” moment, crashing through the set and stealing the show. But I digress.)

Long ago, I took my dad to see Mel Torme at Christmas time. That was something. As was Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

But the Christmas show to see, the one we dig, is the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

No one mounts a show quite like this.

Everyone’s dressed for Christmas, from the big band to the backup singers (who quite nicely jingle your bells, strutting the fine line between naughty and nice). There’s lots of sparkle and glitter and, of course, it snows at the end.

There’s a little something for everyone, whether you came to hear the Christmas music, or all those horns, or Setzer’s guitar work (yes, there’s even a little of the Stray Cats).

I should have taken my dad to see this, too.

It was a little like those old Christmas shows we watched when I was a kid — a little bit big band, a little bit lounge and a lot of showmanship.

They aren’t touring this year, so this will have to do. Showtime!

“Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”

“Sleigh Ride”

“Run Run Rudolph”

All from “Boogie Woogie Christmas,” the Brian Setzer Orchestra, 2002.

“Dig That Crazy Santa Claus”

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”

“Angels We Have Heard On High”

All from “Dig That Crazy Christmas,” the Brian Setzer Orchestra, 2005.

If you want the whole package — sounds and visuals — check out “The Ultimate Christmas Collection,” which has all of these cuts plus a DVD of a 2004 show at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. I think 2004 was the first year we saw them. And then in 2005, and in 2006.

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2010

Going in style

I dig fireworks, and this is what I think about as I watch:

That would be a great way to go out. Take my ashes, put them in a shell and fire them into the sky, where they explode in a riot of colors. My family thinks I’m kidding.

It came to mind last week, not only while watching fireworks, but as I learned about the serious illness of a woman married to a guy who used to work at our paper. Our time together at the paper was brief, and a long time ago. Our paths rarely crossed. I doubt he remembers me.

My old colleague has kept an online journal about his wife’s illness. A mutual friend pointed it out, and it’s remarkable.

My old colleague writes of his wife’s passion for Warren Zevon’s music, especially over the last year or so. Zevon, after all, kept writing and recording new songs even after learning he had a short time to live.

Her favorite song: “Keep Me In Your Heart,” the last cut on Zevon’s last album, “The Wind.” In it, the dying Zevon gently coaches his family and friends on how to remember him after he’s gone.

My old colleague, more of a Springsteen guy, has come around, saying “there’s something about Springsteen singing a Zevon song that comforts me these days.”

Especially Springsteen’s cover of “My Ride’s Here” on “Enjoy Every Sandwich,” a 2004 tribute album to Zevon. My old colleague described that song as done by someone “after a life on the road, stuck in yet another hotel and knowing his time had just about run out.”

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“My Ride’s Here,” Warren Zevon, from “My Ride’s Here,” 2002. Also available digitally.

At the end of that journal entry, titled “My Ride’s (Almost) Here,” my old colleague writes:

“Everybody knows that moment at a party where it’s time to leave, but you linger a bit, savoring the moment and the experience. That’s what (she’s) doing right now — she’s lingering and savoring.”

She died the next day.

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“Keep Me In Your Heart,” Warren Zevon, from “The Wind,” 2003. Also available digitally.

I haven’t named my old colleague and his wife because I don’t know them well enough to feel comfortable doing so. I never met her.

Their online journal was hosted by CaringBridge.org, which provides a place for families and friends to connect during times of serious illness. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, CaringBridge web sites are highly recommended.

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Filed under May 2009, Sounds

20/20/20 vision, Part III

We’re back with the third installment of 20 Songs from 20 Albums for $20.

These tunes are part of the haul from a recent morning of crate digging in the back yard of one of our local used record dealers.

Please enjoy the tunes, spun at random, much the way I came across them in the tents in Jim’s back yard a couple of weeks ago.

“Lean On Me,” Tom Jones, from “The Body and Soul of Tom Jones,” 1973. Out of print, and I can’t find it on any compilation CD.

I usually buy TJ’s albums based largely on the quality of the covers. Some, I pass on. Others, I pick up. On this one, Tom covers what at the time were Bill Withers’ big hits, this tune and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” I thought about posting his cover of “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Wanna Be Right).” But no. And certainly not his rather bizarre cover of “Runnin’ Bear.”

“Goodbye, So Long,” Ike and Tina Turner, from “Workin’ Together,” 1971. Out of print.

You know every other song on this side — “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” “Funkier Than A Mosquita’s Tweeter,” “Proud Mary” and “Let It Be” — so we’ll spin the lesser-heard tune.

“‘Nuff Said (Part I)” and “‘Nuff Said (Part II),” Ike and Tina Turner, from “‘Nuff Said,” 1971. Out of print.

An instrumental raveup orchestrated by Ike. Equal parts nasty wah-wah guitar, screaming electric lead guitar, horns and Hammond organ. Part I cooks from start to finish. Part II starts hot, then brings it back down. (Some day, I’ll edit them together as they should be.)

For no apparent reason, Ike announced on this album: “Ike & Tina Turner’s band formerly known as ‘The Kings of Rhythm’ has changed their name to ‘Family Vibs.'”

“Unhooked Generation,” Freda Payne, from “Band of Gold,” 1970. Out of print, but available on a couple of import compilations: “The Best of Freda Payne,” a 2002 release, and “Unhooked Generation: The Complete Invictus Recordings,” a 2001 release.

You know “Band of Gold.” You may know “Deeper and Deeper.” They were the biggest singles off this classic album produced (and largely written) by the mighty Holland-Dozier-Holland team. This tune also was released as a single, but didn’t fare as well as the others. Still a pretty good tune, though.

More to come! (As soon as I rip them.)

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Filed under May 2008, Sounds

The rush of memory

Whiteray over at Echoes in the Wind today offered a simple yet elegant tribute to the four students shot to death at Kent State University during an antiwar protest 38 years ago.

He posted the classic Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young tune, “Ohio,” to accompany the names of the four dead in Ohio.

Seeing that and hearing “Ohio” in my head, it took me right back to that time. I was 12 that May day and became a teenager not too long afterward.

We were living in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, a mostly white, mostly working-class city of 50,000 along Lake Michigan. It was the kind of town that in 1970 still had a band shell — albeit a nice new one — in the park right smack in the middle of downtown.

That summer, there was some kind of teen rock show or perhaps a battle of the bands. With it came a modest furor over one band’s plans to cover “Ohio,” which had been recorded and rushed into release in June, barely a month after the shootings. Neil Young’s rant about “tin soldiers and Nixon coming” did not play well in Sheboygan in the summer of 1970.

I don’t recall how the matter was resolved, but I suspect “Ohio” was covered and the teens remained peaceful, proving unwarranted the city fathers’ fears of unrest on 8th Street.

It remains a vivid memory is because it’s such a contrast to a more innocent memory of music from Sheboygan.

Only two or three summers separated the fuss over “Ohio” and the absolute, wide-eyed joy of discovering that some high school kids who lived up the alley had a garage band.

I was even younger then — 10, maybe 11. I don’t remember the names of the guys in the band, but they let us kids listen. Absolutely the coolest, man.

I’ll never forget the tune they played best. I tried to learn it when my dad brought home an electric guitar that had been damaged in shipping. (Dad worked for REA Express, sort of like today’s UPS, and if a customer declined a shipment, he could put in a claim for it.)

I finally got these chords down. But no, I never had a garage band.

“Little Bit O’ Soul,” the Music Explosion, 1967. Available on “Little Bit O’ Soul: The Best of the Music Explosion,” a 2002 CD compilation.

This tune by a garage band from Mansfield, Ohio, spent 10 weeks in the Top 10 on the singles chart at WLS radio in Chicago, from Memorial Day weekend through the end of July in the summer of 1967.

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Filed under May 2008, Sounds