Thursday, August 03, 2006

Summer Tunes

Today is the Hatcher’s 38th birthday. In New Zealand, when a guy has a birthday, it is his responsibility to treat his mates to libations. New Zealander’s understand incentives, and so everyone feels well-loved on their birthday, with a bar packed full of far flung acquaintances only too happy to lift a free pint to your health. In that spirit, I share with you today my list of essential Summer tunes, which you must purchase and listen to in order to fully soak in the season.

I was on vacation last week in Ocean City, NJ. During the week, I watched no TV and read no newspapers. I saw only a headline of one in a store about Floyd Landis’ testosterone levels being a bit sketchy, but otherwise experienced a complete news fast. Which brings the first tune – The Lazy Sun Bathers, by Morrissey, one of those European singers whose voice lets you know from the start that his sexuality is highly ambiguous, so much so that he probably doesn’t even know what he prefers.

The song addresses, probably critically so, the indifference of the Lazy Sun Bathers to the current events of the day, with lines such as “A world war has been announced, they didn’t know.” Again, I think the guy is trying to be critical of the ignorance of the vacationer, but screw him – everyone needs a week away from it, and you know when you come back Israel and Lebanon will still be bombing each other. So I embrace the song as a vacation ideal instead of considering it a call to conscience. (As a side trivia question, to let everyone know how indifferent they truly are to far-flung sufferings brought on by war in general (as opposed to those that people hold either us or Israel responsible for), who can tell me the war that has caused the most fatalities since WWII?)

Second on the list, which is not in any order of priority, is Springsteen’s 4th of July in Asbury Park (Sandy). It captures the essence of the fleeting and magical nature of Summer at the Jersey shore, where you desperately try to steal a little piece of it to last the other three seasons, in this case in the form of extending the Summer romance beyond Labor Day, when the boardwalk goes dark. In contrast to the coastal areas of California or Florida, the beauty of the Jersey shore is its limited duration as an attraction. It is an extended version of the old time parish carnivals that surrounded you in your childhood, where in the blink of an eye a parking lot was filled with carnival rides, games of chance, and a beer garden, and one week and one blink later, it was gone. No one wants to be surrounded by carnies and drunken bikers for 52 weeks a year, but nothing beats it for 1 week in a summer. You get the sense that the Sandy of the song stays behind, so that the Boss fails in his bid to extend the romance of Summer, and that is how it should be.

And how, exactly, was the Boss likely to have lost his best gal? The answer was given years prior in the third song on the list, by the Chairman of the Board, Frank himself, in the Summer Wind. It is the only proper song to mourn the ending of the Summer.

But enough about all that crap, you need some surf tunes. To cover the early days of surfing, you need something, anything, from the Beach Boys. To cover the present, you need the same from Chris Isaak, or if he is not to your liking, Jack Johnson. My personal preferences would be Wouldn’t It Be Nice by the Beach Boys, Bubbly Toes by Johnson, and Back on Your Side or the cover of Elvis’ Return to Me by Chris Isaak.

And for good measure, no summer is complete without some Huey Lewis – my personal favorite is If This is It. Anyway, for any non-DC friends, I'll pick up the tab at a local DC bar of your choice tonight in addition to providing helpful music suggestions. Happy Birthday to me!


Blogger M said...

Happy B-Day John, I almost forgot. Best, M

3:49 PM  
Blogger Hansirr said...

I find your list of songs very depressing - but I hope you enjoy(ed) your birthday - at least we are not yet 40...

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will lift a Chartreuse to your birthday, Hatch. Not that I need a special occasion for a Chartreuse bender.

No summer song list is complete without something from the Ventures or Dick Dale. Preferably Perfidia from the Ventures, and Surf Beat from Dick Dale.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Bayou Barrister said...

The Congo Conflict.

And when I'm on the beach vacationing and taking in the beautiful and voluptuous surroundings, I can't help but a that little classic by Motley Crue, "Girls, girls, girls,"..."at the Doll House in Ft. Lauderdale". Further, I too don't read anything while at the beach but often wonder to myself, "Have you read the news, in the So-Ho Tribune"...Girls, girls, girls.

Happy Birthday Hatch

3:08 PM  

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