Thursday playlist: Summer … It’s gone edition

  1. Meat Loaf, “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)”
  2. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, “Summertime”
  3. Jens Lekman, “A Sweet Summer’s Night on Hammer Hill”
  4. His Name Is Alive, “Summer Left Your Heart Behind”
  5. Stan Getz, “Summertime”
  6. Sam Cook, “Summertime”
  7. Grandaddy, “Summer … It’s Gone”
  8. Fotheringay, “Two Weeks Last Summer”
  9. Simone White, “I Didn’t Have a Summer Romance”
  10. Christian Fennesz, “Endless Summer”
  11. The Magnetic Fields, “Summer Lies”
  12. Japanther, “Summer Hills”
  13. The High Llamas, “Summer Seen”
  14. Islands, “Jogging Gorgeous Summer”
  15. Miles Davis & Stan Getz, “Indian Summer”
  16. Luna, “Indian Summer”
  17. Manual, “Summer Haze”
  18. David Kilgour, “Living in Space”
  19. The Orange Peels, “Long Cold Summer”

Recipe for an end-of-the-summer mix CD:

Search your harddrive for all songs whose titles include a variation on the word “summer.” In my case I came up with around two dozen, a few too many to fit on a standard CD, so I had the freedom to drop a few. (Who knew I had a copy of the last Death Cab for Cutie album on my computer? Would that I could blame it on my 13-year-old daughter, though I will likely put it on her iPod tomorrow. I had a hard time letting go of T-Rex’s version of “Summertime Blues,” even though I hate that song. And I could have used another, similarly titled, Jens Lekman song, if it didn’t rub me the wrong way even more than this one does at the end.)

Now survey what’s left and try to make some narrative and musical sense of it. A few of my songs celebrated the onset of summer rather than the end (Will Smith makes you ask, “Where’s the hot tub?”) and I was tempted to exclude them, since I wanted this mix to be about the summer ending. But these songs wind up serving as a nice contrast for the many more that lament the end — or the harsh working conditions — of the season, and so heighten the overall sense of jangly, indie sadness.

Most importantly, try to find a sequence that doesn’t let the repetition of the word “summer” dominate the listening experience.


Additional liner notes:

I’m suspicious of mixes that are organized primarily by words in titles. But on a few listens, and with a few retoolings of the sequence, a subtle narrative emerged here, allowing the headiness of the opening anthems to slide into melancholy resignation that the weather’s starting to turn. And the presence of some wordless tunes — not just the Getz and Davis numbers but the electronic stuff from Fennesz and Manual — means that the constant reminders that you’re stuck in a thematic mix get lost every once in a while in a 7- or 8-minute instrumental that carries you away but still fits the overall musical mood. I’d probably only play this mix in season, but so far I like it.

Besides, I like using some arbitrary delimiter for a mix, and in this case it happened to be whatever was on my computer at this moment in time. A lot of it has been there for a while — stuff I haven’t listened to in months, if I ever gave it a real listen. (Japanther’s only there, for instance, because they were on the bill the night I played bass with Robert Longo’s band, but it turns out to work really well with other songs that turned up, especially the early post-post-punk Magnetic Fields and the Depeche Mode-goes-Caribbean bit from Islands.) It was nice not to have to rack my brain for quintessential summer songs or to find a bunch of new releases that fit the mold. Simone White’s lovely number — settling somewhere on the chanteuse spectrum between Chan Marshall and Leslie Feist — is, I think, the only 2007 release here. Most of my friends agree this has been a crappy summer for new music — recorded or live — and so it doesn’t bother me, and it’s no surprise, that several of these are songs that first hit me last summer.

Some are from further back, such as the underappreciated, ex-Clean frontman David Kilgour’s “Living in Space,” from all the way back in 2004. You can get a taste for it here, with footage from a trip to Nashville:


(Did you catch Kurt Wagner from Lambchop loading the truck in one shot?)

Kilgour’s song is the only one here, actually, that doesn’t have “summer” in the title, but it’s been an end-of-the-summer favorite of mine since it first came out, and I knew I would use it even before I had the rest of the recipe in place.

I would have finished with the Kilgour, in fact, except the indie melodrama of The Orange Peels (a band I don’t know anything about beyond this one release, from 2005) seemed nicely symmetrical to the melodrama of the Meat Loaf opener. Click here to download the song from their site. I love how the kid singing for The Orange Peels is unafraid to open up and really belt out the chorus, to show off his high school madrigal chops, a rarity among indie bands who want to pretend they don’t know what they’re doing.

I first got hooked on this song last summer in LA, during a weekend when Farrell was out to visit while I stayed with Jeremy and did some research out there. We hung out with a bunch of nice West Coast Whatsiters, stayed up late spinning 7-inchers on Jeremy’s little suitcase record player, soaked sun at several beaches, ate oysters that were a little milky — probably spawning — and shouldn’t have been eaten. One afternoon we went swimming in the rooftop pool of the Standard during happy hour, Farrell in his boxer briefs. At the end of the weekend, weary from the long haul of our party, I felt every over-the-top note of that chorus, dropping him off at the airport curb.

Send me an email with your snail address, reader, and I’ll burn and ship a copy of the disc, as long as you’re willing to send me one in return.

 What’s on your end-of-the-season playlist? 

23 responses to “Thursday playlist: Summer … It’s gone edition”

  1. Rachel says:

    One of my favorite summer songs is The Durutti Column’s “Sketch For Summer,” which was on a mix you made a while back. Thanks for that one.

    As for my current listening…another August in an odd-numbered year of the noughts, another New Pornographers record. Not as good as I’d hoped, but still peachy.

  2. Dave says:

    You obliquely bring up a good point: What are we to do about this Jens Lekman character? Some enjoyable songs, but often quite annoying. A less mainstream Postal Service?

  3. ssw says:

    Hey, this is a bit off topic (great mix Bry–I enjoyed listening to parts of it yesterday while I was cooking) but I just wanted to say, it’s nice to be back in New York and settling back in. Facing the fall is always rough. It’s strange how hard I have to work as an adult to unwind from so many commitments and try to get away. It’s really important to me though, to reconnect with my family, get the chance to remember what’s important to me, and to think over how I want my life to look versus where I am, and gather energy to make new things happen.

    I’m 36 today. And more than anything, I want to find a way to be more creative.

    I would like to live more regularly with less anxiety and find a bit more joy and let myself relax, have more fun and be more playful. Can you send me those vibes as a wish for this year? I’ve always been jealous of other people’s investments in those pursuits; for example: how can Bryan subside the train of pressure and stress long enough to create a summer mix? I wish I could find that kind of creative outlet for my life.

    A few current wishes: I want to sing harmony back-up with a bluegrass/country/folksy band and learn a bit more about acting. I only took one acting class, many moons ago, and I think it would be fun to try it out. Anyway–there’s my rant. Isn’t that one thing we’re supposed to be able to do on Thursdays here?

  4. Rachel says:

    I’m guessing this is Steph (though I actually can imagine Bryan congratulating himself on a mix well made)….happy birthday, sweet one!

    You have accomplished more than most 36 year-olds I know, and certainly deserve to sing some bluegrass if you damn well want to. I would even pay to see it.

    Hope you have a great day & weekend. Here’s sending you those vibes. xoxo.

  5. Rachel says:

    Dang, you changed the author line with lightning speed.

  6. Scotty says:

    Thanks for this Bryan. One of the things I love about this post and Record Club (endless thanks for that too) is that it creates an opportunity for me to go through all my music and listen to it with a different set of ears.

    Here’s what I put together:

    Alice Cooper, School’s Out
    Van Halen, Dancin’ in the Streets
    Grease Soundtrack, Summer Lovin’
    Blue Cheer, Summertime Blues (if you haven’t heard this version, Bryan, I think it will give you a new appreciation for a tired song)
    The Boss, 4th of July in Asbury Park (Sandy)
    Chad and Jeremy, A Summer Song
    Elton White, Silent Night With You
    Stevie Wonder, Summer Soft
    Eno, Some Beach
    John Cale, All I Want is You (Summer Days are Gone)

  7. Rachel says:

    A good opener: Pavement, “Summer Babe”
    The closer: Love, “Bummer in the Summer”

  8. Jeremy says:

    Happy bday, Steph!! (2 days before my other favorite Steph’s bday!)

  9. ssw says:

    Cool–Happy Birthday to you too then Steph!! Bryan’s birthday was a few days ago too–happy birthdays all around then. we’ve had some discussion over the years if there is any significance of marrying someone with the same sign. I always thought that it just enhanced the intensity–when we got along, we were very connected, and when we fought or disagreed, we made things worse than they need to be. Anyway you slice it, we’ve had a feisty relationship, but, we just celebrated 15 years together–so wild to experience that even this long later, we still have so much to explore and believe in with each other. xoxo

  10. Tim Wager says:

    Happy Birthdays to the Smith-Waterman household! And congratulations on 15 years!

    Interesting mix, too, Bryan. It really shows the breadth of your tastes.

    I love The Clean, but haven’t listened to much solo David Kilgour. I really liked that song and video, particularly the build-up and crescendo near the end. Really good end-of-summer song.

    I would add Jonathan Richman’s “That Summer Feeling” as one of my faves. It’s all about the inability to re-capture that summer feeling from one’s youth — no obligations, just long days of fun.

  11. Stephanie Wells says:

    So many Virgos, so many records to alphabetize! (Scotty and Trixie are Virgos too.) Happiest to you, SSW, and I must say that your introspective comments here make me yearn for some posts from you (or better, some time with you!) Happy birthday! and I wish for you all the things you wish for yourself, and more.

    Bryan, I love your comments on this playlist; West Coast Record Club has had a few “themed” sessions (to Jeremy’s dismay) and this would have been a great one. (They did have “Summer Jams”–we were in Montreal for some sort of big to-do so we missed it–but I think the boundaries were looser than your list’s.) I enjoy hearing your musings on why each song works for you. Happy birthday to you too!

  12. #1 — i think that was the last actual summer mix i made. thanks for remembering!

    #2 — instead of postal service, maybe a less clever magnetic fields? or rather, his inability to edit his output reminds me of the worst aspects of 69 love songs.

    #3 — happy birthday, babe. i’ll come to your bluegrass shows every time.

    #6 and #7 — love the suggestions. keep them coming, folks! i’m curious to know what “summer” songs people actually already have on their computers. you’ll probably be surprised at what you turn up.

    #10 — Kilgour’s most recent isn’t as good as _Frozen Orange_, the one this comes from, but it’s still worth listening to.

    #11 — I don’t alphabetize anything and I don’t believe in astrology. But I do love my fellow-Virgo friends and send them warm wishes for their birthdays.

    I forgot to add in the post above that the Fotheringay song comes indirectly from J-Man, who played another of their songs at the first LA record club. Sandy Denny on vocals. And it has my absolute favorite album cover of all time. My bro Nathan found a copy for me in some big store in Michigan a while back.

    Also, for those who know the Islands track the DM reference may have seemed odd. But it has that vague 1981 vibe, and the band’s even joked about it being a DM song, as you can see in this this clip.

  13. cynthia says:

    happy birthday stephanie. have a great day

  14. ssw says:

    Well, MF just came over this afternoon, bearing gifts, delicious champagne and chocolate cake. What more could a girl ask for out of her birthday? Oh, the luxury of friendship. Thanks for the well-wishing and here’s to the fall…may it bring for all good art to see, fine dining and reconnecting with friends, passion and energy in work, and babies. just kidding–at least for me. what’s the deal people with the babies all of a sudden? I’ve been baby crazy for months and I just don’t know how to reconcile with this. I’ve already had two and I can’t believe I find myself saying out loud how much I’ve craved this year to have a baby. Ugh.

  15. lisa t. says:

    leos definitely don’t alphabetize. we’re more “genre” people.

    ssw: xoxo vibes coming your way. and I would LOVE to be a co-backup singer with you (one of my childhood career goals was to be a backup singer for pink floyd….it’s true).

    we did have a “summer jams” west coast record club at my house. jeremy thought it was a bit loose in structure, but we had a good time. many good songs on that edition. here’s the playlist:

    disc 1
    1. B52s, “Legal Tender”
    2. Belle and Sebastian, “I Could Be Dreaming”
    3. Push Kings, “Pop Phenomenon”
    4. Motherhips, “T.G.I.M”
    5. Koop (w/ Astrid Gilberto), “Summer Sun”
    6. Lil’ Mama, “Lip Gloss”
    7. Add N to (X), “Take Me to Your Leader”
    8. The Beach Boys, “Feel Flows”
    9. Mark Knopfler, “Speedway at Nazareth”
    10. Joan of Arc, “If It Feels Good, Do It”

    disc 2
    1. Woody Guthrie, “Car Song”
    2. Aretha Franklin, “Ain’t No Way”
    3. Van Morrison, “Into the Mystic (live)”
    4. Shelby Lynne, “Where I’m From”
    5. Tom Petty, “Wild Flowers”
    6. Fruitbats, “A Bit of Wind”
    7. Freestyle Fellowship, “When the Sun Took a Day Off and the Moon Stood Still”
    8. The Polyphonic Spree, “It’s the Sun”
    9. Bjork, “Earth Intruders (Spankrock Mix)”
    10. Nick Drake, “Saturday Sun”

  16. #14 — yikes. [breaks into cold sweat.] i would have thought that getting your clock cleaned so early would have prevented it from ticking in these, your autumn years.

  17. AW says:

    SSW: I love it whenever your name and insights pop up here. You were a great, kind presence in my life during the years I knew you in Boston. I wish you only the best for the coming year. And I admit to being jealous of a NYC afternoon with you, MF, chocolate cake, and champagne. Maybe we could all find a way to do that together, soon. Hmm… I guess that’s my wish for me–and you–in the coming year. Happy Birthday.

    Thanks, Bryan, for the music list. I’ll be one of those people sending you my snail-mail address for a CD.

  18. Jen says:

    SSW – happy birthday! Come on out to the west coast and you, me, lisa t. and parrish can have an all-girl bluegrass hootenanny !

  19. Dave says:

    No marital tiffs allowed in comments!

    (Flirting is fine, however.)

    Also, you people see how fun these Thursday playlists can be? You should sign up to do one! Please?

  20. #16 *was* flirting, dave. i just hope #14 *wasn’t*.

    and yes, this was fun to do. people should sign up.

  21. farrell fawcett says:

    First off, Happy Birthday SSW, I hope it’s another great year for you, singing in bluegrass bands and acting classes and all. Wish i were there to toast you.

    Second, Lisa T, who brought the spank rock mix of Bjork’s “Earth intruders”? We’ve been getting down to that song all summer. Props.

    Third, dear Bryan, what a great mix idea. I’d love to hear a copy of your mix. Care to burn me one? I don’t know how that David Kilgour song slipped by me last summer, but it’s great. Thanks for your reminiscence. What a great great trip that was. I love the line “We lost that summer. We shot that summer.” A few tracks that stick in my head (and harddrive) about summer: Pete Townsend “Forever’s no time at all” That line “And now that the summer’s ending, your baby goes out to sea.” Song always makes me think of you for some reason. Then, there’s Pedro the Lion “Indian Summer,” slightly more appropriate in September/October. “the best summer ever” from Philly’s A Sunny Day in Glascow. Matt Pond “Summer” and Beck’s “summer girl.” And about 20 other songs that aren’t worth mentioning. Wish we could go to Dave’s and MF’s party this weekend–and the fresh salt anniversary. I send my love. We’ll be down the shore. Happy labor day to all! xo

  22. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran
    Summertime Blues – Blue Cheer
    Summertime Blues – The Who
    Summertime – The Troggs
    Summertime – Big Brother & The Holding Company
    Summer In The City – Lovin’ Spoonful

    17 – Boyd Bennett & The Rockets
    Hello Stranger – Barbara Lewis
    Rockaway Beach – Ramones
    Spanish Stroll – Mink DeVille

  23. Summertime in Times Square – 1962 – We danced in the street (in front of a small 24hr luncheonette with a great loud jukebox on 6th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd) to…

    Hank Ballard & The Midnighters –

    The Twist
    Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go