Scene from American Graffiti (1973) © Universal/Lucasfilm/Coppola Company. Image Source: Broadway World.
I always thought of summer as the season of the now, the eternal present of parties, lakefront getaways and socializing. Perhaps because of that, it is also the season of memory, of past parties and past socializing, especially of youth. But credit where credit is due: the inspiration for this post on summer memories was one of Kate Sherrod's amazing Suppertime Sonnets (see an excerpt below, quoted with kind permission, the remainder of this great sonnet is on her site):
It's summer; school is out, the kids are free,
And they go screeching by in all their cars
As though it were a Friday night. When we
Were that age we were just the same. The stars
Glowed high above us, burning, dying, while
We paid them hardly any mind, except
When we were waiting, sometimes with a smile,
Sometimes with bitterness, for those who kept
On telling us "just one sec." ...
Sherrod's sonnet made me think of the George Lucas film about crusing in Modesto California in 1962, American Graffiti. For a long time in America, summer in pop culture has been frozen somewhere in the '50s and '60s, presumably because that period encompassed the youth of the Baby Boomers. The big period for 1950s' summer retro was the early-to-mid 1980s, when they made some of their most seminal films. I've done other posts on summer youth and memory, concerning River Phoenix (here), and the Coppola adaptations of S. E. Hinton's Outsiders and Rumble Fish with Mickey Rourke (here).
Below the jump, a few music videos that were summer hits with visions of the past; songs that looked back on summers past or had retro summer themes; or songs that played on sultry summer nostalgia. And for the present: three songs from Ron Sexsmith's new CD, Long Player, Late Bloomer. After seeing an HBO Special about this long-ignored talent, I hope it will be the hit album from the summer of 2011. For over a decade and a half, trashpop, driven by characters like Simon Cowell (whom my friend D. calls, "a false druid"), has dominated the airwaves and internet. This is an album from a Gen X songwriter who's been around for awhile. He's been described as performing "outside his time" and his style definitely fits more with the acoustic sound that persisted until the mid 1990s. He has always projected poignant introspection and melancholia, but his songs are open-hearted and the soulfulness in them is genuine; this is not whining in a can. Maybe, since the Great Recession just keeps hanging on, our tastes will change, and the underdog in all of us will finally win.
That Was Then
Olivia Newton John and John Travolta/Grease Soundtrack, "Summer Nights" (1978). Video Source: Youtube.
Ron Sexsmith, "Love Shines" (2011). Video Source: Youtube.
Ron Sexsmith, "No Help at All" (2011). Video Source: Youtube.
Ron Sexsmith, "Believe It When I See It" (2011). Video Source: Youtube.
Copyrights and ownership of these songs remain with the cited artists and record labels. They are reproduced here solely for the purpose of non-profit review and discussion.
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