SUMMER SONGS: BLAKE LEYH

Sean Paul: Like Glue
From Dutty Rock (Atlantic, 2002)

Juan Carlos Coronel: Danza Negra
From Un Maestro Una Voz (Colombian import, year unknown)

Magic System: Premiere Gaou
From Premier Gaou 1+1 (Next Music, 2002)

Editor’s Note: The latest in the Soul Sides Summer Songs series is from composer and sound designer Blake Leyh, who apart from his numerous album and film credits, also has one of the coolest jobs out there as the music supervisor for The Wire. (We’d be happy just fetching coffee on The Wire). Leyh also maintains the excellent audioblog The Ten Thousand Things where we recently heard the mash-up of Gwen + Miles = “Summatime Girl.”

      We don’t choose great summer songs. They choose us. Summer is when the windows are open, our guard is down, and we spend more time in the crowd. The joy of popular music is in its quality of shared experience, and summer songs are the lowest common denominator/highest pinnacle of shared musical street life.

 

      Summer 2003 in New York City was The Summer of Sean Paul. You could walk from your door to the subway station down the block with a stop at the corner bodega for an iced coffee and hear “Like Glue” four times. Sometimes while you were hearing “Like Glue” on the tinny AM radio at the newsstand, a gut shaking sub-woofer would drive by playing “Get Busy” – two Sean Paul songs at once! But “Like Glue” was the song seared

 

      into my reptilian brain and imprinted in my DNA by several thousand plays – even during the Great Blackout of August, nothing could quiet it.

 

      The other type of summer song is the one that evokes the interior, imaginary, archetypal summer ideal. Even though I grew up wading through broken glass in London, then spent many summers in Los Angeles in windowless air conditioned rooms, and now endure 100 degree asphalt-melting barnyard-smell summers in NYC, I still carry around a feeling that summer is mint juleps, haystacks, cicadas, and palm trees. It’s tropical and breezy. Lying in a hammock with the sun refracting into rainbows through eyelashes. And just over the horizon there’s a celebration, people are dancing, and if I can just move from

 

      this chaise lounge I might go and join them. When they start playing “Danza Negra” by Juan Carlos Coronel, I finally get up and join the party.

 

      Lastly, although we listen to African music constantly year-round at my house, there’s even more of it playing in the summer. Anything by Fela, Senegalese hip-hop, high life, Myriam Makeba, Salif Keita, Bisso Na Bisso. And of course “Premiere Gaou” from Magic System.

 

      A few more random great summer songs:

 

      Khaled: Didi

 

      Abba: Fernando

 

      Mos Def: Ms. Fat Booty

 

      Herbie Hancock: Rockit

 

      Missy Elliot: Get Yr Freak On

 

      Max Romeo and The Upsetters: War Ina Babylon

 

      George Clinton: Atomic Dog

 

    Manu Dibango: Soul Makossa

More summer-y links:

 

 

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