A friend of mine recently posted a link to an NPR article about the *Songs of the Summer by Eleanor Kagan. The criteria for getting on the list is “a song (or two, or three) that explodes and quickly permeates pop culture. It runs rampant up and down your radio dial, around your parties and deep in your brain. Perhaps this is why such pop music is described in terms usually reserved for the plague.”
The list went back 50 years to the summer of 1962. Not surprisingly, I knew just about all the songs, and also not surprising were the songs I knew least were the newer ones. There were quite a lot of responses to my friend’s post as well as comments on the NPR website about why thus-and-so song was included when “insert your favorite summer song here” was not included. Certainly there were songs that I think of as summer songs or beach music that weren’t on the list. But the list as a whole seemed to fit the spirit of the criteria. I say that because I’ve been listening to it for several days now and most of the songs are catchy “earworms”.
What surprised me is the passion of some of the responses to the content of the list (although I recognize that people tend to get overly passionate on Facebook). It shouldn’t have surprised me, because I feel very passionate about music. Every event in my life has a music track associated with it. My early childhood was accompanied by big band, country, classical music and old-time hymns, the music my mother loved.
My earliest real memory (seriously) is standing in front of the big console TV watching “American Bandstand”. And I was 10 years old when The Beatles came to the U.S.; I remember jumping up and down on my bed singing “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. (I’ll save you the math, I’m 59!) Prior to that my mother came to love Elvis, so I heard lots of him before and after The Beatles changed my life! Then came the whole British Invasion which defined the sixties as far as I’m concerned.
So why aren’t all of my or your favorites on the list? Mostly because the list is based on record sales, so what is on the list had to have widespread national appeal. I think a lot of songs become popular on a local or regional basis. It’s what I heard on my local radio station or what albums my friends and I bought that became important to me. One early summer was spent at the community pool listening to It’s My Party by Lesley Gore. Later I spent several weeks one summer painting the rooms of a friend’s house listening to In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly over and over and over. Some songs are roller-rink tunes, like People Got to Be Free by the Rascals.
A few of my real favorites are on the list. One song that drives me insane is on the list, I have to mute my computer every time it comes on. Another song on the list pains me due to it’s consistent popularity even though I found the singer to be annoyingly egomaniacal. I really shouldn’t be surprised to the passionate comments since I clearly can’t be the only person who feels strongly about music. Anyway, take a look at the list and listen to the mix and tell me about your thoughts!
Check out HOT Amazon deals on your favorite items!