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Monday, July 9, 2012

What Makes A Good Summer Song?

Artist Chuck Prophet’s song “Summertime Thing” is a favorite of Here & Now literary critic Steve Almond. (Chuck Prophet Facebook)

For our literary critic Steve Almond, Chuck Prophet’s “Summertime Thing” is a perfect summer song.

“Summer is a time for pleasure and leisure and as soon as you hear the opening chord of this song, it’s something biochemical or neurological, it just relaxes me,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Winter and fall are for brooding and having indie cred, Almond says, but not summer.

Reinventing George Gershwin

Artist Angelique Kidjo, one of Steve Almond’s summer favorites. (Flickr/ActiveSteve)

“I’m a big fan of big bright sunny melodies and beautiful relaxed arrangements,” Almond said.

His favorite songs this summer range from Van Morrison’s “Youth of A Thousand Summers” to a cover of “Summertime” by African artist Anglique Kidjo.

“This to me is the most beautiful instance of reverse colonialism,” Almond said. “She takes this beautiful song from George Gershwin and absolutely reinvents it.”

Porch Music And Nostalgia

Almond also recommended Jukebox the Ghost‘s song, “Everybody Knows,” which reminded Robin of “The Whole of the Moon,” by the Waterboys.

And if you’ll be kicking back on your porch this summer, Almond says turn up Tim Gearan’s “Should Have Gone Home.”

“I think of this as great porch music. You’re sitting around on your porch, maybe dusk is coming, you’ve got a malted beverage perhaps,” he said.

Almond also says that another essential element for a summer song is nostalgia.

“Summer is this time that’s so beautiful and so intense and so wonderful, but it’s also fleeting and it disappears,” he said.

Steve Almond’s Songs of Summer

  • Chuck Prophet, “Summertime Thing” (from the album “No Other Love”)
  • Tim Gearan, “Should Have Gone Home” (from the album “Riverboat”)
  • Anglique Kidjo, “Summertime” (from the album “Keep On Moving-Best of Angelique Kidjo”)
  • Jukebox the Ghost, “Everybody Knows” (from the album “Safe Travels”)
  • Laura Veirs, “July Flame” (from the album “July Flame”)
  • Van Morrison “Youth of A Thousand Summers”(from the album “Enlightenment”)

Steve Also Recommends

  • Butch Walker, “Summer of ‘89” (off the album “Spades”)
  • Gillian Welch, “Summer Evening” (off the album “Going Driftless”)
  • Jens Lekman “A Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill” (off the album “Oh You’re So Silent Jens”)
  • Jonathan Richman, “That Summer Feeling” (off the album “I, Jonathan”)
  • The Hold Steady, “Constructive Summer” (off the album “Stay Positive”)


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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