CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE STUMBLED INTO "THE SHALLOW ZONE." WATCH OUT FOR THE ROCKS. SOME OF THEM ARE SHARP.
If you're looking for a blog with meaningful content on the important issues of the day, you've come to the wrong place. This is the shallows, my friend. Nothing but shallowness as far as the eye can see. Let someone else make sense of things. I like it here.

About Me

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I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT
Not that there's any weight to it...
IN A WORLD FILLED WITH COMPLEX POLITICAL ISSUES, SOCIAL INEQUALITY, AND FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY, I CONSIDER IT MY GIFT TO YOU, MY READER, TO OFFER THIS SHALLOW LITTLE HAVEN, WHERE NOTHING IS TOO SHALLOW, TOO INSIGNIFICANT, OR TOO RIDICULOUS TO JUSTIFY OUR ATTENTION. IN OTHER WORDS, IF IT'S NOT IMPORTANT....SO WHAT? NEITHER WAS MARILYN MONROE'S BRA SIZE. AND THAT STILL SELLS MAGAZINES, DOESN'T IT?
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

Thursday, May 24, 2012

FIVE BEST SUMMER SONGS


With Memorial Day Weekend a mere day away, and the temperature outside my flat creeping solidly into the 70s, I have no choice but to devote this, my first substantial post in two weeks, to yet another "top five picks" list. And what better subject than "summer songs"? So here, without preamble, are the five songs that I'll be listening to when I sip my that first, long-awaited summer cocktail on Saturday.


When it comes to old school crooning, there are two men who do it for me: Bobby Darrin and Frank Sinatra. And, for my money, there's not a better old school summer song than "Summer Wind", a breezy little ballad about a fleeting summer love, recorded by Mr. Sinatra in 1966. With lyrics originally written in German by Hans Bradtke, rewritten in English by Heinz Meier (Henry Mayer), and music composed by none other than Johnny Mercer, "Summer Wind" had already been a minor hit for Wayne Newton in 1965, peaking at 78 on the U.S. pop charts, but Sinatra's version eclipsed its predecessor, making it all the way to #25 on the pop singles charts and earning a top spot on the Easy Listening charts. And why wouldn't it? With lyrics like "All summer long, we sang a song And then we strolled that golden sand. Two sweethearts and the summer wind", it's the perfect song for sipping a cocktail on a summer evening...old school style.


I've never been hip hop's biggest fan, but there are some songs that just defy genre, and this is one of them. It was a huge hit for Will Smith and D.J. Jazzy Jeff back in 1991, peaking at #4 on the Billboard chart and giving the duo their first U.K. hit. An interesting and relatively unknown fact about the song is that it's actually a reworking of a tune called "Summer Madness", which was recorded by Kool and The Gang in 1974. As summer-themed songs go, this one has a good set of gams, having been featured in a 1992 "Saved By The Bell" special on NBC as well as the theme music for a series of Wal-Mart commercials around the same time. What's so great about it? Well, for one thing, it captures perfectly the essence of the American summer experience, referencing barbecues, family reunions, and, of course, pretty girls walking around in scanty clothing. Bottom line, it's a feel good song, and when the summer sun is high and the hot dogs are sizzling on the backyard grill, there's simply no better condiment than a song that makes you think happy thoughts.


It's hard to imagine anyone not having heard "California Girls" by the Beach Boys. It's one of those songs so deeply embedded in the popular consciousness that, even if you can't remember the actual words, you feel as though you know it anyway. Released in 1965, it is easily one of the band's most recognizable and most frequently covered hits, not the least example of which is David Lee Roth's version which was as big a hit for him as it was for Brian Wilson and the boys (both versions went to #3 on the Billboard charts). But what you might not know about the song is that Wilson allegedly came up with the idea for it during an LSD trip. According to Wilson, it was a "trip" that started out pretty negatively, prompting him to run into his bedroom and dive underneath the pillows on his bed, where he stayed for some time, repeating, "I'm afraid of my mother. I'm afraid of my dad." Somehow, though, in the midst of all the parent phobia, the genius composer heard the melody line for "California Girls" in his head, came out from underneath the pillows, and made a beeline for his piano, where he began banging out the chords, to which he gradually added the lyrics we have all come to know and love. And radio audiences weren't the only ones who lapped up the results of Wilson's trippy talent like a summer slurpee at the local Tastee-Freeze. The Beatles were listening as well, and were so impressed that Paul McCartney purportedly composed "Back In The USSR" as a shameless homage to the song. If there was ever a summer song that transcended time and space and place, this is it. In fact, we wish they all could be...well..."California Girls."


Nothing underscores the lazy essence of summertime like a sultry clarinet solo played by Mr. Acker Bilk. At least, that's what I always find myself thinking whenever I listen to this song. Released in 1962, it was the British clarinetist's biggest hit as well as the first British song to reach #1 on the American pop charts and the biggest selling instrumental single of all time. And, of course, like all great songs, summer-friendly or otherwise, it was inspired by a woman, in this case, Bilk's daughter, Jennie, for whom it was originally named. The song was so popular when it first came out that the crew of the Apollo 10 took a cassette recording of it with them to the moon! Since then it's been covered endlessly by artists as diverse as Andy Williams (with lyrics added, of course), The Drifters, and Kenny G. It's also been featured in a number of movies, including Mr. Holland's Opus and There's Something About Mary. But apart from all the hoopla, it's just a damned good song, as summery and light as an ocean breeze, and as romantic as a kiss tinged with sea salt...from a stranger on the shore.


Yes, I know, it doesn't even mention the word "summer", but there was ever a song that screamed to be played at top volume on a car radio (preferably one on the dashboard of a convertible), "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones is freaking it. But maybe that has something to do with the fact that the song first hit the American radio airwaves in June of 1965, after having been banned from British radio because of its "sexually suggestive" lyrics. Sexually suggestive? Well, I suppose they could be taken that way, if you happened to be, say, a middle-aged British bollock-brain who thought that any Stones song that contained the word "satisfaction" had to be about shagging someone. Luckily, between June and August of that year, the scales fell from the eyes of the song-censors, and "Satisfaction" was finally released in the UK, giving the Rolling Stones their fourth #1 hit on the British pop charts. So, what makes this song arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest rock and roll single, not only for summertime listening, but for all time? Well, that unforgettable opening riff by guitar god Keith Richards, for one thing, which is not merely "catchy" (as it was once described by Mick Jagger), but downright infectious, not to mention profoundly iconic. And then there are the lyrics, which pretty much say everything there is to say about youthful alienation, which is what has given the song its enormous staying power over the years. A lot has changed in the world since the summer of 1965, but one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that young people, whether they live in the UK, the United States, or upper Volta, are always searching for something to give their life meaning, and on a hot summer day, when it seems that everyone in the world but you has a date and a place to go that night, "Satisfaction" serves a dual purpose, providing not only the perfect soundtrack for that feeling of being left out, but a strange sense of comfort because, after all, if someone as popular and successful as Mick Jagger can sing "I can't get no satisfaction" with so much passion, then maybe, just maybe, you're not really as alone in your misery as you think.

Well, that's it for my latest top five song list. As always, I hope you found it enjoyable, whether or not you agree. And if you do disagree, I'd be interested in hearing what songs you think deserve to be on a top five summer song list. So, don't mope...post. Skol! xoxoxxoxoxxoxoxxoxoxxo

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