H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y

If you’ve been reading this here blog for a while, you may have seen me mention my friend, the musical sherpa, Clay. Well last August, Clay gave me one of the best birthday presents I’ve gotten in my entire life: a generous starter collection of 45’s, cradled by a 7-inch Peaches record crate. This is a short video of my reaction upon being given this gift. There was tons of great stuff in there — everything from Queen to Radiohead and back again — and in the nine months since, I’ve had lots of fun exploring and expanding this collection (probably too much fun on the expansion front, but WHATEVER). So for Clay’s birthday, I’ve done the only reasonable thing — I’ve assembled a tactical playlist from my seed set of 7-inch records entitled “H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y” (you’ll see why), accompanied by a quick, solo game of Adjective Battleship for each one. Let’s do dis!

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Mungo Jerry/The Who

In the Summertime

Oh daylight savings time, you double-edged sword, you. On one hand, you generously give us an extra hour of sleep each fall (which I promptly throw away by staying up extra late on Saturday night, but still…). On the other hand, “falling back” means it’s already dark when we leave work, which raises just about everyone’s ire, even those of us without Seasonal Affective Disorder, the most insensitively named psychological disorder since Wanton Unfortunate Sissiness Syndrome, which, as we all know, took the crown from Neurologically Unstable Tempestuousness Sickness. But you know what, daylight savings time? YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME! It just so happens that the day before you so rudely made it feel like winter overnight, I unwittingly armed myself with two powerful weapons that, as I listen to them on this dreadfully depressing Monday, make your assault on happiness and a gradual transition away from summer seem, well, wussy (my apologies to those with W.U.S.S.). You see on Saturday, I went 45 diving at Plan 9 and came to the surface holding, among other things, Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime” and the Who’s “Summertime Blues.” While both were recorded by English rock groups in the 1970’s, the mood of these songs couldn’t be more divergent. “In the Summertime” is a carefree original tune with lyrics about having fun, fishing, drinking and driving, and, um… not buying poor women dinner before you try to have sex with them. Conversely, “Summertime Blues” is a canonical, angst-ridden anthem that chronicles a teenager’s frustration with being too young and poor to make his own decisions. Looking closer, even the songs’ writers are opposites. “Summertime Blues” was originally written by rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran, who died in a road accident when he was just 21. Mungo Jerry, however, is still active, thanks to intrepid frontman/mutton chops connoisseur Ray (don’t call me Jerry) Dorset, who has led the band for an astonishing 41 years. But as different as these songs are, they both chase away the seasonal gloom by conjuring some really special memories of fall’s younger, more popular sibling. “In the Summertime” calls to mind all the fun I had performing the song with bandmates 4eva Doug and Brett when I had just graduated college, and “Summertime Blues” takes me back to car rides spent listening to early rock with my 50’s-crazed dad, back when I was way too young to understand that he was dutifully laying the groundwork for an appreciation for the genre’s founding fathers. With these two songs filling up the living room, it doesn’t matter if the clocks have been set back to the correct hour, or even which month is showing on the calendar, because it sounds like summertime, and that’s close enough. Listen to both tunes below and join me in telling daylight savings time to stick it where the sun does shine.

Mungo Jerry — “In the Summertime

The Who — “Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran cover)