AT RANDOM: Songs of summer

Roger Knox reflects on those tunes that bring back seasonal memories

In the summertime, when the weather is high…You can stretch right up, and touch the sky… –––Mungo Jerry

In The Summertime was the biggest hit for British rock group Mungo Jerry (lead singer Ray Dorset, not anybody named Jerry), and for most music fans, it’s instantly recognizable.

For a number of people, I discovered, it’s also their quintessential summer song.

Isn’t that a common denominator we all share about summer? It’s our season of play, our season of being hot and staying cool. Our season of hanging with our buddies at the beach or cabin.

And don’t we all have that one song that reminds us of so many good times with friends, family, summer romances, summer barbecues, summer fun?

I posed the question to my friends on Facebook, asking them what’s their quintessential summertime song and why.

The responses were tremendous and varied.

Five people chose Mungo Jerry’s 1970 hit In the Summertime. Sandy in Salmon Arm calls it “the best summertime song ever. Minus the ‘have a drink, have a drive’ lyric of course. Love the mutton-chops (on singer Ray Dorset).”

Four friends selected Don Henley’s Boys of Summer, including Kim on Middleton Mountain, who replied: “I had Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses (still have ‘em) – ‘ I can see you… your brown skin shinin’ in the sun…’ He was singing to me then and he’s been singing it to me ever since.”

Four people also picked Summer in the City by The Lovin’ Spoonful, including Lisa from Kelowna who wrote, “Because they don’t make songs like that anymore.”

Four chose Bryan Adams’ Canadian classic Summer of ‘69, including Collin from Invermere: “Summer of 69, the year I was born. Reminds me of family reunions in Armstrong and camping at Mabel Lake and at Granny’s cabin by the rock jetty on the Shuswap River.”

Karla from Coldstream’s favourite comes from Tears For Fears: “Everybody Wants to Rule the World. Takes me back to high school, new driver’s licence, cruising by Kal beach with it blaring in Mom’s Toyota, windows down. And it sounds great, loud!”

Tracy from Armstrong is taken back to the Prairies by The Stampeders: “Sweet City Woman reminds me of my youth in Winnipeg and warm summer rain showers when you stayed outside and danced barefoot in the puddles.”

My 13-year-old son said he doesn’t really have a summertime favourite song, “But my friends listen to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Can’t Hold Us.”

For me, the quintessential summer song does, in fact, come from a singer named Gerry: Baker Street, by the late Gerry Rafferty.

Every time I hear the opening to the song, and by the time the great saxophone solo hits before Rafferty sings the opening lines “Winding your way down on Baker Street…Light in your head and dead on your feet,” the volume in my car or my phone gets cranked, and I am immediately transported back to the summer of 1978.

That was a summer where I spent nearly every day riding my bike along Okanagan and 25th Avenues to my aunt and uncle’s house on Okanagan Lake, hanging out with my cousin Geoff, Jackie and Jayne, the neighbour sisters, and Maureen from down the road, waterskiing, snorkeling, cannonballs off the pier, drinking Pop Shoppe pop (24 different flavours), roasting marshmallows, listening to the hits like Baker Street on CJIB.

It was summer in the Okanagan. It was how summer in the Okanagan is meant to be enjoyed. With friends, family, loving the hot weather and cooling off in the lake. And the opening bars from one great tune take me there every single time.