Who dares listen to Nirvana Unplugged between the vernal equinox and Labor Day? Who doesn't know that a twangy melody suits porch sitting like a sandal suits a foot? Fools, that's who. Fools who don't understand summertime, summer music or the Summer Jam.
The Summer Jam is the Patty Griffin ditty we put on "repeat" when we clean the back porch; it is the AC/DC song we sang with high school friends, windows down, eating hot dogs at Sonic; it is the Tom Petty classic to which we smoked many joints. See, we're not talking about Will Smith's "Summertime" or Sheryl Crow's "Soak Up the Sun," behind which a marketing agenda roars far more loudly that our speakers. We're talking about songs we happened upon as apt soundtracks to the American summer experience.
Four metro musicians who embrace the lightness of the season offer their thoughts on Summer Jams, past, present and future.
Vocalist and bass player for the metal-punk band, Flee the Seen
"My best Summer Jam of all time would have to be 'A Favor House Atlantic' by Coheed & Cambria. One day, we were taking a break from band practice and drove up next to this guy in a red leather Thriller-esque jacket, red helmet and red gloves on a red motorcycle. Basically, just imagine the coolest guy possible. He had speakers built into his motorcycle and was playing this song. Our jaws dropped from the awesomeness, and 'A Favor House Atlantic' was instantly elevated to Summer Jam status.
Summer Jam album of 2005: Reggie and the Full Effect, Songs Not To Get Married To. "
DJ, Fat Sal Señor Oz Soundsystem, Thursday nights at Jilly' s
"A proper Summer Jam must feel carefree and lazy. An emphasis on the downbeat and the slack is necessary. The screwed-up, slurred world of the Dirty South and the ska and laconic toasting of the Jamaican DJs is all a response to that crazy summer heat and humidity.
This summer's jam is M.I.A.'s 'Sunshowers,' which has this sweet and innocent-sounding chorus, which is only a facade for some of the potent commentary beneath the surface, like Quit bending my fingo, quit beating me like you're Ringo/You wanna go? You wanna war?/Like P.L.O., I don't surrendo. I can't wait to see dancers freaking out to music with references to the Palestinian resistance. But that's what summer's about, too. It's not just swimming pools and blended cocktails. And 2005 is gonna be a violent summer, lots of murder in the streets, so music with those subtle references is crucial."
Vocalist and guitarist of Andy Graham and the Moment Band
"When I lived in Portland, I spent many summer mornings listening to Up on the Sun by the Meat Puppets on my walks to work over the Willamette River. Those were great, weird mornings. We'd also listen to the full record at prefestival parties at our loft before going to the Rose Festival carnival to ride the crazy rides. And eat elephant ears.
In high school, Old Man on the Bridge by King Kong was a favorite amongst my friends and me for driving around doing summertime teen things.
A great summertime-beer-blowout-barbecue-party record is Dinosaur Jr.'s You're Living All Over Me. Especially the song 'Lung.'
'Revolution Summer' by Pussy Galore reminds me of boozy trips to Chicago to visit friends, ripping off clothes for midnight skinny dips in suburban reaches of the DuPage River.
I love listening to Roxy Music's 'Mother of Pearl' while reading in my hammock in the backyard.
I heard a song off the new Stephen Malkmus record, a song called 'Baby C'mon,' so I'm thinking the whole album will be a good summertime barbecue rock trip when it comes out in late May. I'm also expecting hot summer tunes from Smog. And the new record from the Planet The, out on 5Rc in June, promises to be good fodder for my nightly BB-gun adventure.
I'm already having backyard fun to the latest Viva Voce record. The song 'Alive With Pleasure' is currently my favorite Summer Jam of 2005."
Rapper and freestyle artist
"'Black Ice' by the Goodie Mob was one of those songs that didn't necessarily make you want to get up and dance, but it made you want to drink Pinot Grigio and play connect the dots with the constellations.
A Summer Jam has to be the refreshing seasoning to your cognition, reminding you: It is summer -- relax, sleep late and don't worry about a thing. Winter songs kind of intentionally twist your angst and somberness, though it is almost what you thirst for at the time. Summer does the opposite. Surges of carefree, jubilant energy. I imagine that Tool will release their new album this summer, and it will probably hook into my neighbors' eardrums with whatever classics are featured on it."