Almanac Music: Australian Summer Songs – Name a Personal Classic.

Sky. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

 

Australian Summer Songs – Name a Personal Classic. (Here’s one of mine.)

 

BLUE DAY by MI-SEX

(St Kilda, Melbourne.)

 

The mid nineteen-eighties. A sweltering summer day. Speeding along Beaconsfield Parade towards St Kilda, deep blue Port Philip Bay on my right. Not a cloud in the azure sky. Harsh, bright sunlight bouncing off surfaces – the windows of the buildings, concrete footpaths, asphalt, anything metallic …
My driver’s side window is down, but the wind is the opposite of cool.

 

One song.

One song.

One song in my head.

‘Blue Day’ by Mi-Sex:

I tell myself it’s just a blue day / Hard to see it any other way

To me, not blue as in sad.

Blue as in blue …

 

Alright … yes …

Maybe there’s a little sadness too.

 

 

Read more from Kevin Densley HERE

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His work has appeared in print in Australia, the UK and the USA, as well as on many online venues. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, has just been published (late 2020) by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Recent other writing includes screenplays for films with a tertiary education purpose.

Comments

  1. Off the top of my head, “It’s Almost Summer” by Billy Thorpe is the first tune I can mention. Surely more but my first cloudy head for 2021 requires time to clear.

    You can’t beat Eddie Cochran’s ” Summertime Blues” except for the not irrelevant fact he wasn’t an Australian.

    Happy 2021 ‘nackers.

    Glen!

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Glen! Billy Thorpe’s classic is another of my personal “Australian Summer” favourites.

    I love “Summertime Blues”, too.

    What I was basically getting at with my discussion prompt and piece is for Almanackers to put forward songs which for them help to define their Australian summer. Usually, I suppose, these songs will be written and performed by Australians, but not always. (Mi-Sex, for example, as many would know, was originally made up of a bunch of New Zealanders – but basically their entire career was spent in Australia, where they relocated in late 1978.)

  3. Richard Clapton will always be summer for me. “Girls on the Avenue” for the shimmering joyous melody. Capricorn Dancer. Blue Bay Blues. Take your pick.
    “Down in the Lucky Country” for the cynically honest lyrics.
    “Standing on the corner, with the sunlight in my eyes,
    The streets are full of brown skinned girls,
    And yellow beach front signs,
    The radio plays the horses, the announcer calls ’em out,
    He’s got bets each way on a losing streak
    And the boys are leaving town”

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Peter!

    Yes! Richard Clapton has written some wonderful, beachy, summer classics hasn’t he? (And your response underlined this for me.)

  5. Alone with you – Sunny Boys.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for this one, Dips!

    I fully agree that this Jeremy Oxley written / Lobby Loyde produced song is a summer classic – and, for me, it’s so evocative of a time and place.

  7. Kevin Densley says

    .. and another reason Sunny Boys evoke summer for me is that the words directly reference that orange, icy treat many of us would’ve bought from the milk bar back in the day.

  8. Peter Warrington says

    i couldn’t stand it at the time but now I see the poignancy in the lyrics, “Oh no, not you again”. Masterpiece.

  9. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks for your contribution to this discussion, Peter.

    I reckon that Australian Crawl (a band I liked – and still like – a lot) have many songs with a distinct summer flavour; in fact, a summery look and musical style were very much what the band was on about, of course.

  10. Like PB, Richard Clapton comes to mind. Capricorn Dancer is a summery song.

    You’d also include OL 55’s number 1 hit from December 1976: Rocking Christmas.

    Glen!

  11. Kevin Densley says

    Fine additional input, Glen!

    “Capricorn Dancer” is a particular favourite of mine. What great lyrics, such as “Diamonds scattered out to sea /
    The sun keeps laughin’ down on me / This crazy horse is tryin’ to chase the wind.”

    It’s such a key memory that the pub band I played in, Murmurs, supported Clapton in Geelong in 1980 when I was eighteen (as I write in a previous Almanac piece) – and I got to meet the great man and have a chat.

  12. Colin Ritchie says

    ‘Sunshine and I feel fine’ by Ram Jam Big Band from the late 60s is the first one that came to mind for me. Great band and saw them play many times around Melbourne. Check them out. https://youtu.be/4N7CTWL6Vfs

  13. Kevin Densley says

    Great summery song, Col! I just listened to it and watched the clip on Youtube. I can certainly imagine it drifting across Australian tertiary campuses (and elsewhere) in its time. The brass in the piece adds a dimension, too!

  14. The Melbourne band Stylus did a cover of the CSNY tune ‘Summer Breeze’. It charted in the top 40 during 1975(76?).

    Correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve got an inkling Stylus front man Peter Cupples played maggoos at Footscray in the early 70’s.

    Glen!

  15. Kevin Densley says

    Glen! – yes, Stylus’s “Summer Breeze” was certainly a minor hit in 1975 – it was nicely done as far as such songs go, as I recall, but it’s not the kind of soufflé-light pop song I’m particularly fond of.

    A quick bit of research tells me that Cupples did indeed play for Footscray for a season or so; presumably, it was the Magoos, as he doesn’t appear in VFL / AFL records in a seniors capacity.

  16. “Summer Breeze” was a Seals & Croft song – not a CSNY song.

  17. Colin Ritchie says

    Beat me to it PB!

  18. Well spotted Col, & PB.

    I primarily recall the Stylus version.

    Glen!

  19. Liam Hauser says

    I’m glad to see Australian Crawl get a mention. Their first 3 albums were magnificent: The Boys Light Up, Sirocco, Sons of Beaches.
    Oh No Not You Again was from Sirocco.
    The name of their third album derives from the song Daughters of the Northern Coast.
    Songs from other artists that come to mind are In the Summertime, and Summer Rain.
    In the Summertime was Mungo Jerry’s massive debut single, but I’m more familiar with the Idle Race version of the song.
    Summer Rain was on Belinda Carlisle’s fine album Runaway Horses.
    As for Summertime Blues, I’m more familiar with The Who’s version.

  20. Kevin Densley says

    Yes, of course, PB and CR!

  21. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Regrettably, Beach Baby by First Class

  22. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Swish. I remember Beach Baby, too.

    As a kid, I really liked it – but that probably says something about the level at which the song is pitched!

  23. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Liam.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Actually, the details you provided about Australian Crawl reminded me that a younger sister of mine possessed all the Crawl albums you mentioned, and that we played them almost incessantly for a time in the early eighties. Also, the pub band I played in had “Indisposed” and “Beautiful People” in our repertoire.

    Finally, your mention of “Summer Rain” made me recall that Paul Kelly also wrote a song with this title.

  24. Luke Reynolds says

    “Sounds Of Then (This is Australia)” by Ganggajang
    “Distant Sun” by Crowded House
    “When The River Runs Dry” by Hunters & Collectors

  25. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, Luke – what a fine summer trio to add to the mix!

  26. From that early/mid 80’s era:
    “Happy Man”: Sunnyboys
    “Oh no not you again”: Australian Crawl

  27. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Smokie! Thanks for these – yes, quite a number of the songs put forward in this discussion are taking me back to the hot, smoky pub band nights of early/mid eighties summers.

  28. I agree with Glen, you can’t beat Eddie Cochran’s SUMMERTIME BLUES”, I still have it on vinyl. My other favourite, still not by an Australian, is Steve lawrence’s CAN’T WAIT FOR SUMMER”, Bloody magnificent, it brings back so many memories.

  29. Kevin Densley says

    Two fine songs there, Fisho!

    So often songs take us back to particular times and places in our lives.

  30. Daryl Schramm says

    Too many to choose from. For me, a recent favorite (last 10 years) is Sloop John B. Just love the sound of it. Very summery. It only came into my conscious via first discovering Jimmy Buffett in ’08, then his radio station Radio Margaritaville where the song was often played. It was on my the play list for my Margaritaville themed 60th birthday party five years ago. Then the song turned up on a second hand double CD of the Forest Gump sound track I purchased somewhere. Wishing all a rewarding 2021.
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=sloop+john+b&view=detail&mid=39DD4029A994FAD8290E39DD4029A994FAD8290E&FORM=VIRE0&ru=%2fsearch%3fq%3dsloop%2bjohn%2bb%26cvid%3d58ee4c5158b34bf2aaea9b5608f6e3c2%26pglt%3d43%26FORM%3dANNTA1%26PC%3dACTS

  31. Kevin Densley says

    Great clip and great summer song, Daryl – I’ve always loved the song, and it’s an excellent reminder of how many Beach Boys tunes (Surprise, surprise!) are so wonderfully summery!

  32. From 1970, how about Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime”.

  33. The other Sherbet song: Summer Love. About 8 years old. Evocations of the beach, which seemed a long way from dusty Kapunda.

  34. Kevin Densley says

    Fisho – “In the Summertime”, another classic, mentioned earlier by Liam H.

    Mickey – Sherbet’s “Summer Love” yes, of course, a Number 1 Australian hit, heavily promoted by Countdown on the ABC. I confess that my sister and I really gave this song a hammering on the family stereo when it first came out – I was thirteen and she was eleven at the time, and she became a big Sherbet fan, seeing them when they appeared live at the Plaza Theatre in Geelong.

  35. Summer Night City by ABBA.must be considered, certainly by me.

  36. Kevin Densley says

    Fair enough, too, Fisho!

  37. roger lowrey says

    Many here I can’t argue with.

    Box trifecta goes Summer Love, Capricorn Dancer and the Nine Sports Packer cricket theme music.

    Apologies to many I have omitted.

    RDL

  38. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, RDL.

    I like the way you’re thinking here: firstly, you put forward a song that is very much in the popular music mould; secondly, something musically a little more sophisticated, and, finally, music that is thematically firmly in a sporting context.

    In short, your box trifecta covers all bases!

  39. From way back in ’58, The Jamies, “SUMMERTIME, SUMMERTIME” – a real catchy number.

  40. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks again, Fisho – yes, an enjoyable, catchy song with pleasant vocal harmonies.

  41. Luke Reynolds says

    “Australian Sun” by Catherine Traicos is a great song from one of my favourite singer/songwriters.

    Mental As Anything have always been a band I associate with summer, songs like “Live It Up”, “The Nips Are Getting Bigger”, “Let’s Go To Paradise” & “Too Many Times”.

  42. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks again, Luke – I like that languid, evocative 3/4 time song from Catherine Traicos.

    And yes, like you, I’ve associated the Mentals with summer. I remember playing “The Nips Are Getting Bigger” in Murmurs, and particularly enjoying doing variations on the distinctive bass guitar line of the song – we played both covers (usually of Australian stuff) and original material.

  43. Kevin Densley says

    Luke – your most recent comments (about the Mentals) also reminded me that songs which evoke summer for someone don’t necessarily need to be about summer itself; for example, the Kate Bush album Lionheart evokes summer for me because it connects directly to a summer period in which I bought it and first played it (repeatedly) – in Adelaide on holidays as an eighteen-year-old. My poem, “Lionheart Summer”, previously posted on the Almanac, deals with this.

  44. Liam Hauser says

    I’m also a fan of Mental As Anything. Other fine songs of theirs include Mr Natural, The world seems difficult (that song title resonates nowadays, doesn’t it?), Egypt, and If you leave me can I come too?
    Funnily, I was listening to my compilation CD of the Mentals when I drove to Coolangatta nearly 18 months ago and I saw a sign that directed to Surfers Paradise. Guess what song was playing? Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun. Then during the next song, another sign pointed to Surfers Paradise. And this time the song was Let’s go to paradise.
    By the way, other songs in my collection that involve the word “summer” are Summer of ’81 (Mondo Rock), Summer and Lightning (ELO), Sons of Summer (Carly Simon), and Summer’ s coming around again (ditto). I’ve known the Mondo Rock song since the spring of 1986, although it was a little chilly during a holiday in New Zealand.
    Summer and Lightning is a cruelly underrated song (every song on Out of the Blue is a classic in my opinion), although it’s immediately followed by one of their better known songs: Mr Blue Sky.

  45. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    How did I leave out That Summer Feeling by Jonathan Richman?

  46. Kevin Densley says

    Liam – great material on the summer song theme! You made me think of “Summer of ’69” and “The Boys of Summer” (also a classic baseball book) by Bryan Adams.

    Swish – a fabulous song! A gem!

  47. Kevin Densley says

    Correction: “The Boys of Summer” was performed by Don Henley, of course. (Lyrics by Henley and music by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.)

    The famous baseball book with the same title was by Roger Kahn.

  48. How about the song “Summer Nights” from the musical film Grease, by the beautiful Australian singer Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta?

  49. Kevin Densley says

    Of course, Gavin! Excellent inclusion!

  50. Kevin Densley says

    Maybe it was an earlier comment by Mickey Randall about “dusty Kapunda” seeming to be a long way from the beach, but since around that time a song called “Long Dusty Road”, in a version sung by Rose Bygrave (one-time Goanna backing vocalist and keyboard player), has been in my head – it strikes me as a particularly apt song in relation to hot Australian (outback) summers. Anyone know this version?

  51. Liam Hauser says

    Previously I mentioned the ELO songs Summer and Lightning, and Mr Blue Sky (as well as some other songs by other artists). Here’s two more ELO songs which make me think of summer: Laredo Tornado, and It’s Over. Here’s the first verse of each song:

    Laredo Tornado:
    Summer days, where did you go?
    You’ve let me down so bad
    Clouds fill the sky
    Gone is the dream
    My happy hunting ground
    Wild buffalo played and I never saw a rainy day
    But it looks like summer days ain’t coming back.

    It’s Over:
    It’s over, it’s over, it’s over
    Summer came and passed away
    Hardly seemed to last a day, but it’s over
    And what can I do?

  52. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Liam.

    Thanks for these. ELO has a nice batch of summer material!

  53. Hi KD and happy new year, well happy everything

    I’m a few days late to this and really enjoyed the wide range of suggestions. I’m glad Sherbet, Crawl and (our) Clapton got mentioned. Surprised his song Deep Water wasn’t thrown in. Another ripper by a ripper. Allow me to throw a couple in. Dave Warner has a few but I’ll mention African Summer and Summer of ’78. Two fantastic summer songs. Hoodoo’s Like Wow Wipeout, The Triffids, It’s Too Hot to Move, The Blackeyed Susans, Ocean of You and maybe, April Sun in Cuba by Dragon.

  54. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Rick. Happy new year to you, too!

    You’ve come up with some cracking songs in your comments … Deep Water … Too Hot to Move (an all-time favourite of mine) … to mention just a couple.

    And the Hoodoo Gurus in general have always signified summer to me..

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