Summer, technically, ended a week or so ago but I bet you, like me, didn’t even notice. Blame it on Labor Day. Blame it on the fact that summer ends in a thousand moments – going back to school, your last field trip, the oncoming coolness of the evening, people already putting up Halloween decorations, et. al. And that’s fine: not every end has to be commemorated or marked with solemnity.
But for me, the end of summer is always a transition – ’tis the nature of being a teacher – and often a jarring one, where the memories of summer are quickly dashed under the millstone of shit-that-has-to-be-done-yesterday. As such, I wanted to at least mark summer’s end with a look back on the tunes that kept me company for the season.
Album of the Summer: Earl Sweatshirt’s Doris
I find that Odd Future’s music tends to be made for a listener that’s “not me.” Which is fine…I’m probably twice as old as their target demo and I’m not salty about that. But while Tyler’s stuff has rarely made much of an impression on me, I’m absolutely loving Earl’s album. Maybe it’s because he reminds me of a younger MF Doom or that he uses the same loops as the Wu. But it goes beyond whatever throwback appeal he has. Dude can spit, he expresses vulnerabilities without getting all Drake-y about it, he’s the kind of MC that, if I were 18, would be godly to me. Actually, as a 41 year old, he still seems pretty godly.
Song of the Summer #1: The Manhattans’ “Follow Your Heart” (Carnival, 1965).
What, you thought I was going to pick “Blurred Lines” or something? In terms of the song that got the most rotations from me the last three months, almost nothing is touching “Follow Your Heart.” Such an amazing song on so many levels but just start with how it opens with those vibes. “Sublime” is too soft a term. And then throw in the perfect interplay between lead George Smith and the back-up singers. And just ponder how strange a line like “it’s a puzzling thing” must be to sing yet how natural it comes off in here. And cap that with how the group sings, “follow your heart” and try not to raise your hands and swing them in rhythm to the line.1
Song of the Summer #2: J. Cole’s “Cole Summer”
This song got me to resurrect the Summer Song series after two years off so I gotta show it love. It’s like when Jay-Z dropped “Dear Summer” over that Weldon Irvine loop. I can’t get enough of a vibe like this (even if it is J. Cole).
Honorable Mention: The De Vons’ “Someone To Treat Me (The Way You Do)” (King, 1969)
I picked this up at the Groove Merchant earlier in the late spring and it’s easily become my favorite Northern track in current rotation. Supposedly a James Brown production which is impressive since this sounds outside his normal style but he was a many o’ many talents. Love the sweet swing on this one and (once again), great use of back-up singing to bring all this together. I dare you not to dance during the chorus. Double dare you.
Favorite Live Moment: Hard to beat seeing Merry Clayton, the Waters and Judith Hill performing live at Oscars Outdoors, after the screening of 20 Feet From Stardom. Here’s Judith:
- The fact that you can buy this, original stock, mint, for $10, is such a ridiculous steal. ↩