The seasons have provided inspiration for countless singers and songwriters. As we here in Australia approach the tail end of another soul-melting summer, it occurs to me that none of the popular music artistes of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have really captured my own feelings on that very season which terrorises me like no other.
A quick survey of summer-related songs reveals that Ace of Base once recorded a version of an old Bananarama number called ‘Cruel Summer’. At first glance, this seemed germane. Unfortunately, much of the Ace of Base version is in French — a language I don’t speak, and one which seems poorly suited to enumerating the ills of summer. (If the French were cursed with the sorts of summers we endure this far down in the southern hemisphere, they wouldn’t have had the inclination to invent a language as attractive as French, for a start.) Add to that the fact that Ace of Base are Swedish, and that the Bananarama version featured on the soundtrack to the movie The Karate Kid (a film which seriously expects us to believe that a teenager would go to a costume party dressed as a shower), and it starts to look like we’re taking an excursion deep into Total Bullshitsville.
Or take Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘One Summer’, whose chorus exhorts us to “Remember the way-ay”, while conveniently failing to provide further specifics. I can only assume he means “remember the way in which your naked arse flesh got stuck to the vinyl of your desk chair while you mindlessly surfed the internet late into night”.
And you can stop smirking, Sir Cliff Richard, with your “fun and laughter” and “no more worries for a week or two”. Which is it, one week or two? Irrelevant, since the skin is still peeling from my knees a fortnight since the conclusion of my own summer holiday. Where’s the fun and laughter in that, I ask. (And while you’re puzzling over that one, think how screwed you would have been if you’d been knighted during the Crusades. I’m just saying.)
No survey of wildly disingenuous summer-themed songs could ignore ‘Summer Lovin” from the movie Grease. Consider this tragically flawed poetic image, if you will: “Summer days drifting away / To, uh oh, those summer nights”. In other words, “isn’t it nice how in summer the temperature usually drops once the sun has gone down, because then we can engage in pleasant activities such as under-age sex and/or sleep” . Sure, except when the temperature remains at 34°C for most of the freaking night.
The nearest a song about summer has come to expressing my own feelings is ‘Summer in the City’ by one of my favourite musical acts of yesteryear, The Lovin’ Spoonful. Its verses speak of “people looking half dead” (check), the city being “hotter than a matchhead” (hmm, the ignition temperature of sulphur is roughly 230 degrees Celsius, but let’s call it artistic licence — I’m willing to let gross negative hyperbole slip by where summer is concerned), and the back of one’s neck getting “dirty and gritty” (not sure why they’ve specifically mentioned the back of the neck there — the creases in the belly flesh, groin and arse areas would have been my go-to points of anatomy for that one, but anyway). Where songwriter John Sebastian comes undone, like Sir Cliff, is his promise, in the chorus, that “despite the heat it’ll be alright”.
No it won’t, John. No it arsing well won’t. Not until it’s the middle of June, and I’m wearing slippers.