Labi Siffre's “Summer Is Coming” is track three of this, my third Creative Loafing Tampa playlist. Yes, it’s already here, but as every Floridian knows, summer is still coming, and will continue to insert its sweaty self into our lives.
Drawing inspiration from the Swedish summertime mix that started it all*, and in an honest attempt to avoid the usual “summer classics” tropes, we give you my own mix (streaming below). There are no Beach Boys, Bananarama, or Seals & Crofts’ Summer Breeze, etc. to speak of. Instead, here’s a lifelong Floridian’s tribute to the time of year that never really seems to leave...(stream/download the playlist below).
Franco Battiato — “Summer On A Solitary Beach” Italy’s beloved pop maestro conveying a narrative of an almost surreal beach scene that could’ve been taken right from the pages of a travel journal.
The Style Council — “Long Hot Summer” Paul Weller of The Jam & Mick Talbot of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, etc. displaying their much more introspective side in a quintessential song for any summer mix. Snatched this, and another record of theirs, up from a dollar bin at Mojo on Record Store Day a few years back. My personal best find of the retail holiday.
Labi Siffre — “Summer Is Coming” An artist that ironically got his widest exposure from the sample of his song “I Got The…” in an Eminem song, this song displays Siffre’s expert ability to capture the day-to-day life of a working musician (look to “Bless the Telephone” and “Cannock Chase” for other examples). Here he is chronicling the impending summer in a city setting.
Loudon Wainwright III — “The Swimming Song” Hearing this song play over the credits of the movie The Squid And The Whale years ago, reignited my interest in one of the first artists I remember being exposed to, and that spark made me to revisit this and other records of his. He’ll be playing the Murray Theatre at Ruth Eckerd Hall (Murray Studio Theatre) on March 29. Count me in.
The Kinks — “Sunny Afternoon” Perfect for those days off work when you feel justified drinking beer during the day.
Poolside — “Harvest Moon” This Neil Young classic gets a poolside vibe update.
Relatively Clean Rivers — “Hello Sunshine” Perfect guitar-picking jam for your next float down your favorite relatively clean river.
La Femme — “It’s Time To Wake Up 2023” From Psycho Tropical Berlin, this song is a reminder to wake up early on a summer morning to (hopefully) get the day’s work done before it’s too hot to function.
Nilton Bahia — “Tropical Jazz” And when the work is done and the night falls, dance with your friends at your favorite spot to do so with this number.
Atomic Forest — “Sunshine Day” To those hitting the streets, trying to make better days for us all.
Henry Mancini — “Lujon” It’s hard not to picture a balmy, but lustrous tropical summer night when listening to this.
XTC — “Summer’s Cauldron” With average summer temps in the 90s, this could be a Florida dweller’s anthem.
Nancy Sinatra — “Summer Wine” Nancy & Lee nailing it, as always.
State Champion — “Sunbathing I” About halfway through the band’s set at Microgroove a while back, I realized it was going to be a show highlight of the year for me. Everything in this album gives a true account of the lazy American summer days as only a couple of brothers from Louisville can describe to you firsthand.
Belle & Sebastian — “A Summer Wasting” In an effort to not overuse Belle & Sebastian for this, or any other future playlist, (other possible choices: “Song for Sunshine” and “I Know Where The Summer Goes”), I narrowed it down to just this one to account for every summer (or any other season for that matter) when I don’t feel like I’m living up to my potential and just wasting days. This song seems to present the choice to either fret over it, or just enjoy the soundtrack to it.
Santo Y Johnny — “And I Love Her” Few things instill a sense of tropic locales like Santo & Johnny.
Jonathan Richman — “That Summer Feeling” The quality purveyor of youthful recollection songs takes on the edge of summer playground sentiment with this one.
Roy Ayers — “Everybody Loves The Sunshine” Played in heavy rotation at weekend brunches at The Refinery, this will forever be the soundtrack to working on the rooftop patio on Sundays.
Jimmy Carter and Dallas County Green — “A Night Of Love” “And a night that’s warm is a night to share”
Chuck Prophet — “Summertime Thing” “Well the sun’s burning down on the pavement, money in the bank I ain’t gonna save it.” A personalized summer tale unfurls from a prolific California born singer songwriter with too many musical connections to list.
Geoff & Maria Muldaur — “Brazil” For millions of people all over the world experiencing the hottest season in their various regions. Here’s Brazil for one.
Frankie Ford — “Sea Cruise” Had a lot of fun cranking this one at Rock & Soul’s two-year anniversary at The Hub. Clunky fun dancing in the heart of downtown on a summer night? Check.
Brian Eno — “Here Come the Warm Jets” The song that always plays in my head when being bombarded by the exhaust (especially from buses) adding to the already hot gusts while biking on the city streets.
Johnny Rivers — “Summer Rain” An ode to those inevitable daily Florida downpours.
Gabor Szabo — “Sealed With A Kiss” This Hungarian guitar prodigy ever so softly and (seemingly) effortlessly laying down this cover of Bobby Vinton’s hit is about all you can ask for.
Matt Pond PA — “Is It Safe” I don’t think there’s a song that encapsulates the feel of summer more poignantly for me than this one. Incidentally, released this year, the final record ever as Matt Pond PA, is called Still Summer.
Songs: Ohia — “Ghost Tropic” From the appropriately named record of the same name, with all its sweltering sounds and lyrics of dark nights, dark water, lightning, curves of coasts, low hanging moons over oceans, cities and roads at night. Here, the squawking birds seem to lay out an ominous feel for this background musical interlude track. R.I.P. Jason Molina.
Hot Snakes — “Braintrust” A frantic snapshot of life under the constant, blistering sun.
Helen Love — “Matthew Kaplan Superstar” The lyric “Matthew Kaplan Superstar interviewed us in Central Park, on a summer’s day, listening to John Cale” is exactly the kind of good memory you’d want to be remembered for by a band who is paying you appreciative tribute in their song.
Pavement — “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” — A peek inside Stephen Malkmus’s head via a cryptic summer lament song.
Johnny Mercer — “Tangerine” It takes no real stretch of the imagination to picture Johnny Mercer, one of America’s most famous lyricists, penning this one in a smoky cocktail bar, cause odds are, he probably did.
Fela Kuti — “Water No Get Enemy” Typically long, rhythmic, and urgent, Afrobeat songs seem to be especially timely for the hottest of the seasons.
Beat Happening — “Indian Summer” You’ll “come back for Indian Summer” and multiple listens of this one, guaranteed.
Robert Lester Folsom — “See You Later, I’m Gone” A relatively obscure and largely unknown artist until recently, (with the help of some reissues and a documentary), this Georgia native, early home recording wiz and now resident of my hometown of Jacksonville, constructs an apt summer leaving song.
*If it weren’t for Ray catching the same buzz that it gave me when I shared it with him on a long car ride back from a show in Orlando, I may not have been spending so many listening hours researching, compiling and writing to share with whoever may be listening. And I mean that in a good way.