William Devaughn: Be Thankful For What You Got
From Be Thankful For What You Got (Roxbury, 1974)

I introduced the summer song series last year, inviting a series of guest posters to discuss what they thought were the ideal summer songs. With Memorial Day behind us and the summer solstice up ahead, I decided to bring it back with a whole new set of guests (beginning with Dr. Joseph Schloss aka Joe Twist) who will be bringing us their favorite summer songs all throughout the season.

I recently wrote about summer songs for my monthly Oakland Tribune column and in going back to my Soul Sides archives, realized that I had never written about Devaughn’s song specifically for the site (though I had posted two covers of it over the time). It is a quintessential summer song for reasons I explain in the column:

    [This is] one song that’s a complete package — the feel and flow of summer, the wistful allure of nostalgia, and the fragility of those moments. Find the album version — all seven minutes of it. The languid groove builds from the opening congas into a subtly funky mix of dulcet guitars and soft vibes and it’s the perfect score for a long drives, lazy afternoons and sweaty house parties alike. DeVaughn’s vocals bring it all home, urging us to appreciate what life offers even if we’re not able to enjoy “diggin’ the scene with a gangsta lean.” DeVaughn’s song is all about living for the moment, advice worth remembering as our summer fast approaches and, inevitably, will end sooner than we realize.

But hey, summer’s not done yet. We’re just getting started.