"Hot town summer in the city" or "Going up the country" -- some opening lines that helped define a season in the sun for my generation. Turn up the radio and turn back time to those endless summers of the 1960s.
The year 1962 was my first coming of age summer. After months of anticipation, I was a teenager. No longer confined to listening to my older sister and brother's music, I had my own little 45 rpm record player. It was pink and grey and had a permanent place on the floor beside my bed. High school loomed at the end of the summer.
Parents out, I'd open the front doors and let the music mingle with the night air.
Top of my personal chart that summer was "Sherry." The Four Seasons were new and hot, just like the weather.
Being a bit of a folky, I spun a few Peter Paul and Mary discs, on my own, late at night. Oh to have Mary's long blonde hair that, I too, could flip so nonchalantly. My parent's brand new stereo record player downstairs thrummed to the strains of "Stranger on the Shore." Acker Bilk is still on my playlist today.
The summer of 1963 was all Beach Boys. "Surfin' U.S.A.," blared on that big stereo record player every chance I got to use it. Parents out, I'd open the front doors and let the music mingle with the night air. It was my very own, innocent version of a teenage rebellion.
The year 1963 was also our family's first foray into cottage rental. It was a shoreline rustic cabin. All the kitchen pots were mustered to catch the drips when it rained. I stared at the ceiling and played "Rhythm of the Rain," the irony eluding my young mind. From the veranda could be heard Nat King Cole singing "Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer."
The summer of 1964:
Calling out around the world
Are you ready for a brand new beat
Summer's here and the time is right
For dancing in the street
A spunky Martha and the Vandellas vied with the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night" for air play that summer. Down at the dance pavilion, many hot, sticky nights were spent swaying to "The House of the Rising Sun" covered by a local band.
"Wooly Bully" was my summer theme song for 1965. The 45 rpm was a much played birthday gift. Sonny and Cher, with their fringe and fur, had just made it onto the music scene with I Got You Babe. The Rolling Stones blasted into the stratosphere with I Can't Get No Satisfaction. The decade progressed and the beat got louder. Lurking in a corner of the music world that summer was the foreboding Eve of Destruction.
My folky roots resurfaced and The Mommas and Poppas were summer of 1966 for me. I was "California Dreaming." I would juxtapose their close harmony with The Troggs growling "Wild Thing." The Happenings crooned "I'll See You In September" as we shuffled across the dance floor in the summer night. And the Lovin' Spoonful told us to :
Come on come on and dance all night
Despite the heat it'll be alright
1967, The Summer of Love, Scott Mckenzie's rather ethereal "If You're Going To San Francisco" made me long for a world beyond my little town. "Gentle people, with flowers in their hair." Then Grace Slick hinted at the more mysterious side of that world singing "Go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall'."
The summer of 1968 I was "Born to be Wild" and challenged my parents authority. There was high school graduation and then I would soon be off to college. Simon and Garfunkel's haunting harmonies with "Mrs. Robinson" hit the airwaves. Mama Cass reminded us all to "Dream a Little Dream."
The summer of 1969 was my second coming of age and defined by many life changing events. I was crushed by my father's death in June. I started my first job at the end of that summer. Driving down the highway into the unknown, away from the security of home, I looked in the rear view mirror at the last summer of the decade.
Woodstock happened mid-August, and Joe Cocker's "With a Little Help from My Friends" was everywhere. Raging, raspy voice, spastic movements, electrifying performance.
As if on cue, Peter Paul and Mary were singing "Day is Done" as the curtain fell on the summers of the 1960s.
Do you ask why I'm sighing my son?
You shall inherit what mankind has done
In a world filled with sorrow and woe
If you ask me why this is so I really don't know
John Lennon and Yoko Ono sang a very personal anthem that summer of '69 and 47 years later it still fits into our world today.
"All We are Saying is Give Peace a Chance." Have a listen!
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