A notable point of 2016 has been the loss of great musicians. The music we grew up with and the songs we know by heart. Music that is the embodiment of summers gone past.
Summer, for me, is full of music. Summers of the 80s were punctuated by big hits from David Bowies and Prince. I still recall standing in the back yard in 1985 listening to the debut of Raspberry Beret and loving its wannabe Sgt. Pepper sound, seething with envy at the skillful writing. The news of The Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie’s cancer steps on summer nostalgia. The summer of 1996 was the song “Ahead by a Century,” with the beatnik folkie sound that coincided with meeting Keri in a video rental store. Remember video rental stores?
The predictable summer music cliché is The Beach Boys. Now that I’m older and have musician friends who revere Brian Wilson, I can appreciate the music differently. Growing up, The Beach Boys would get played in gym class while we ran grueling laps. Later, in high school choir, we sang an unseemly medley of Beach Boys songs. I can honestly sing along to Fun Fun Fun, In My Room, and California Girls correctly to this day. Only a railroad spike to in the head could clear out those memories.
Cream (the band) is my favourite summer music. It dates back as far as the summer of 1986. I had the project of painting a number of barnyard buildings white. It was a long, slow, tedious chore in the midst of thick Manitoba heat, staring at the layers of white to go along with the layers of heat. I couldn’t pass the chore off either – no Tom Sawyer shtick; there was no one out there but us chickens, literally. The chickens couldn’t hold a brush or reach anything to help out. Listening to a 15 minute drum solo isn’t an issue if all you have is the wall of white and many more ahead of it. I’d just be out there the next day with the chickens listening to “Crossroads” again. Amazing. Every time. When it pops up on the radio, or playing on a passing car radio, or even just listening to it myself, I can recall that summer actually enjoying the peacefulness of painting.
Like summer, the band of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton soon expired. Generating heat with epic soundscapes, they passed into history swiftly, lasting a season and then gone. Like summer, the music never gets old. Like Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club shuffling down the hall grunting “Sunshine of Your Love,” summertime is just around the corner for all the kids in detention or otherwise.
Reinhardt lives in Boyle Street with his wife Keri Breckenridge.