July 4th and the Soundtrack of Summer

July 4th is upon us once again, and with it comes parades, picnics, fireworks, and of course, great music. Independence Day ushers in the lazy days of summer, warm evenings gathered with family and friends, and a steady stream of feel-good music. Music heard through a neighbor’s open window, on a friend’s boombox, or from a passing car’s stereo is the soundtrack of summer.

Everybody’s got their favorite summer tracks.

What follows are a few of mine.

When I hear the opening guitar riff of The Rolling Stones’ classic, (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, I think of The Steel Pier TV Show, which used to air on Philadelphia’s WPVI Channel 6 (the local ABC affiliate).

line

K.D. Lang’s Summer Fling is such a happy fun song. It’s so full of optimism. It makes me long for the beach. My favorite line, “Laugh, oh how we would laugh at anything.” …Indeed we did. 🙂

line

It was a B 52s toss up between Rock Lobster and the classic Love Shack. Both scream summer, but everybody’s movin’ everybody’s groovin to the Love Shack baby!

line

I was a part-time DJ at a local bar in 1991 when Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff released their seasonal hit, Summertime.

line

Whatever happened to Dee-Lite?  Technically released in August of 1990, Groove Is In The Heart set the tone for the summer of ’91. Everybody danced to this tune. Lady Miss Kier Dressed in groovy Mod Sixties hipness, assured us that she “couldn’t ask for another.”

line

I was 11 years old. I remember being in a car with my Grandmother and two of my cousins. Wild Cherry’s Play That Funky Music started playing on the car’s AM radio. Upon hearing the lyrics “Play that funky music white boy”, my Grandmother was scandalized. “That’s terrible” she said. “What if the whites said that about the blacks?” To which my cousins burst into laughter. “Mom-mom.” said cousin Cheryl “Wild Cherry IS a white band!” My grandmother backpedaled a bit with, “Well, I still think it’s terrible.” — Happy Times. {:-]

line

In 1993 the London based Jazz-Rap group released a remake of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Cantaloupe Island’ called Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia). It’s still one of my favorites. “Diddy diddy bop. Funky funky.”

line

During my last summer living at home with my parents, I spent a lot of time at the community swimming pool. It was a fun summer. The Rolling Stones’ Emotional Rescue was a favorite of one of the life guards. So it was played repetitively. It didn’t help that it was heard through their PA system, which was equipped with cone shaped aluminum paging speakers. It sounded awful. But the song is now synonymous with summer. There’s a fun Emotional Rescue remake by Freedom Dub on the Bossa N; Stones CD. but the original brings back that summer at the pool.

line

Virtual Insanity was my introduction to the British Acid Jazz band, Jamiroquai. It’s a fun song. Lead singer Jay Kay has a singing style reminiscent of 1970s funk and soul, which I love. The moving floor in this video is inventive take on the famous scene in Royal Wedding where Fred Astaire dances on the ceiling. (Later recreated in Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing on the Ceiling” video)

line

Hot In The City is one of my favorite Billy Idol tunes. It was hard for me to choose between it, White Wedding or Thighs Around Your Face, I mean Eyes Without a Face for this post. They’re all good tunes.

line

There are few things better than New York City in the summertime? Empire State of Mind, Alicia Keys’ love letter to New York makes me want to jump on a train and head to the Big Apple. It’s changed a lot. I really do miss the “colorful” element that used to populate Times Square, but it’s still a fun place to be in the summer. You might recognize the chorus from the Jay Z hit.

line

I love, Love, LOVE Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes. This 1987 live performance in Athens featuring Youssou N’Dour is quite possibly the most achingly beautiful version of the song… Accepting all I’ve done and said, I want to stand and stare again, ‘Til there’s nothing left out, oh whoa whoa It remains there in your eyes, Whatever comes and goes Oh, it’s in your eyes.” 

line

I must not forget the ultimate summer classic. Under The Boardwalk by The Drifters. This tune was remade by many artists, including Bette Midler, for the movie, Beaches. Those are okay, but I prefer the Drifters’ version best.

line

Special Thanks to James Stafford for this little gem, More, More, More by Carmel (not to be confused with the Andrea True Connection song of the same name) It was featured on his June 27th “Why It Matters” Word Press blog, From The Stacks: Carmel More, More, More (12″ single) which inspired this list.

line

BONUS: Summer (The Very First Time) was a Bobby Goldsboro hit, but I think Millie Jackson does it better. If you don’t know who Millie Jackson is, I feel sorry for you.

line

Dear Readers: As I stated above, everybody has a special song that connects them to a happy summer memory. I’m gonna borrow a page from The Accidental Cootchie Mama, and ask you to share it. Post a favorite summer tune with it’s link in a comment below. Maybe we can make a killer summer playlist before Labor Day. 😀

Turns out… You don’t have to go to D.C. for a Cherry Blossom Fesival.

We’ve all heard of Washington DC’s famous National Cherry Blossom Festival. It happens each year at the end of March, and runs for a few weeks into April. It’s a beautiful way to welcome the spring. But you don’t need to travel to D.C. to witness Demeter prepareing for Persephone’s return.

Here in Philadelphia, the Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom.

IMG_20130401_155849

The 2013 Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia began yesterday (April 1st) and runs to the 26th, with events throughout the city.

“The festival celebrates the relationship between Japan and Philadelphia and highlights the more 2600 Cherry trees which will spring to life along the Schuylkill river in coming weeks.” – Aaron Dilliplane the Assistant Director for the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia

It’s not just about the flowers. The Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival  also features Martial Arts demonstrations, Dance and Drum performances. and a Cherry Blossom 5K. Some indoor activities on Sakura Sunday (April 14th) include origami, calligraphy, and sending messages to people in areas affected by the 2011 tsunami.

Philadelphia and DC are only two of the many Cherry Blossom Festivals happening all around the world.

Come out and explore the world around you.  It’s a surefire way to get over the “Winter Blahs.” To find out where there’s a Cherry Blossom Festival happening in your part of the globe, click here.