Sunday, July 23, 2017

Two Words: Summertime Thing

Chuck Prophet: Summertime Thing
[purchase the original]

Back in 2010, when few of the current Star Maker Machine writers were associated with the blog, we did a theme about songs with one word titles. It seemed like time to advance the counter, and focus on songs with Two Word titles. (We promise not to do a theme about songs with 27 word titles).

Where I live, in suburban New York, it has been hot. High-80s, low 90s, with humidity. I know that other parts of the country are suffering through record heat waves, as are parts of Europe (or so I hear from my daughter in Barcelona). Complaining about the heat during the summer, though, is kind of a waste of time. It is, as Chuck Prophet noted, a “Summertime Thing.”

Prophet is someone who hasn’t gotten nearly enough love on this blog, despite his long career, first in the 80s psychedelic Americana band Green on Red, and later as a songwriter, collaborator and solo artist. I’ve been a fan for a while, and he is near the top of my list of artists who I want to see for the first time (I’ll be crossing the Tedeschi Trucks Band off that list in October). I wrote more about Prophet here, so feel free to check that out, if you want more background.

Prophet was born in Whittier, California, near Los Angeles, where it gets pretty warm, but lives now in San Francisco, where Mark Twain famously didn’t actually denigrate the summer weather. “Summertime Thing,” from Prophet’s 2002 album No Other Love, was a bit of a radio hit. It is really a great summer song. The song has a mellow, laid back vibe, and talks about the hot sun, hazy skies, burning pavement, loud parties and skinny dipping in a river. Plus, he name-checks the Beach Boys. Add that to Prophet’s customary drawling vocals, which seem perfect for a hot day, and you just want to slather on the sun screen, grab a crime novel and sit under a big umbrella with a cold drink dripping condensation waiting nearby.

The original version is great, but I’ve linked above to a live version from a 2013 performance at a club in Martinez, California, outside of San Francisco. It stretches the 5 minute song out to past 9 minutes, mostly by adding a long, languorous jam that adds to the easygoing, summertime feel of the song. Even though the performance was in March.

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