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June 28, 2012 / John Sieger

Too Hot!

Summer Song List Part Two

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As we move into the blazingly hot part of summer and Wisconsin starts to feel more like Mississippi or Alabama, it’s time to add a few weather related titles to our growing list of summer songs.

In The Summertime, Mungo Jerry: A simple, fun and oddly mysterious ditty that raises two questions. One, who or what is a Mungo Jerry, and B, what kind of music is this? Is it an update of skiffle? That style never really caught on stateside, but I’m assuming it was somewhere between folk and jug band, but with a more british flavor. Of course, neither of these questions stop you from enjoying this absolutely loony-tunes rhythm and lyric.

110 In The Shade, John Fogerty: As a native of the Bay area who sounds like a yooper when he talks, nobody would have guessed John Fogerty would be laying down the swampiest sounds this side of SlimHarpo or Tony Joe White. I guess it doesn’t matter where you live — if you love a musical style, it’s yours. Just be sure to do it justice, and that’s exactly what Fogerty does with this sizzling meditation on the joys of picking cotton in an outdoor steam bath. The authentic and deep vibe is supplied by the Blind Boys Of Alabama, this storied gospel group never sang a note that wouldn’t make you shiver — even on the hottest day.

Too Darn Hot, Cole Porter: From Kiss Me Kate and recorded by a slew of great American artists from Ella Fitzrerald to Mel Torme. The protagonist lays out a lengthy and convincing argument for laying out: It’s too darn hot! Full of manufactured rhyme and the casual genius Porter flashed without any visible strain.

Too Hot, Kool & The Gang: For a song with that title, it’s surprising to hear the music lingering somewhere in the mid fifties. Conjuring an air-conditioned penthouse this song barely crosses the threshold of Muzak to the lower levels of disco-lite. The tinted glass windows hide the blinding sun and singer JamesTaylor (not the Fire And Rain guy) pours a sweetly smooth vocal over the always professional track provided by Kool & The Gang.

Sunny Afternoon, The Kinks: A pixillated tale of resignation in a voice so perfectly British you feel as if you’ve travelled there, the charm of this devilish delight runs about a mile deep. A unique talent, Ray Davies, and an astoundingly sympathetic band create the kind of magic you expect from legends. This is has to be on a lot of desert island discs — and what a pleasant fantasy it is to picture yourself there with the waves lapping, the palms swaying, listening to Ray’s mild complaint— lazing, basically.

Girls In Their Summer Clothes, Bruce Springsteen: This is historic, I rarely say nice things about the Boss Of Bombast, but I admire what he does when his subject matter shrinks from global to the more manageable personal. He must view gift for pop confection as too light or not challenging enough. That’s a shame, especially for those among us who feast on songs like this. It’s a perfect example of what he can do when he isn’t trying to save the world or write it’s latest anthem.

The Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra: Johnny Mercer is one of the great lyricists and his words were often sung best by Sinatra. You Tube invites you to disprove this theory. Another example of how wonderful a “cool” track can sound when the mercury climbs.

©2012 John Sieger

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