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Host Summer Music Picks

Listener Summer Music Picks

Listener Summer Music Picks

From June 22, 2004:

Listener Picks 2004

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We have the best audience and they love to rise to a challenge. So when we asked for songs that made them think of summer, we were hit by a tidal wave. We chose the submissions with both a good story and a good song. It's been said that Richard Nixon would light a fire in the fireplace while the White House air conditioner was on. With energy prices soaring as they were in the 1970's a better idea might have been to put on a pair of shorts, loosen your shirt and feel the heat of a good summer song.

Host Picks: from 2004
Listener Picks: from 2003
Summer music: from 2003

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songs featured in this episode

Released in May 2004, this is from Morrissey's first solo album in four years.


CD: You are the Quarry
Song: "First of Our Gang to Die"
Label: Attack Records

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"The one magic ingredient to a summer song: a good chorus and 'First Of The Gang To Die' has a killer chorus. Though summer is only a few hours old, I can tell that this song from Morrissey's CD You Are the Quarry will have me rolling down the car windows, singing. It's an irony that the former Smith's singer left his Manchester working class roots, moved to posh parts of Los Angeles only to find himself again the hero of the working poor; this time, the Latino teens of East L.A. This song, is an homage to them, and I imagine the cars already embossed with Morrissey's name will charge the evening airwaves with the chorus to 'The First of the Gang to Die.'"

All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen

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CD: Kid A
Song: "Treefingers"
Label: Capitol

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"I don't like summer. I don't like beaches. I don't like the water or heat. I don't really like driving with the windows down (I can't hear the music with all that white noise rumbling!) Summer for me isn't a time for celebration, but a time for hibernation. Radiohead's 'Treefingers' reminds me of the shadows that reached across the walls of my bedroom late on a summer night when I was growing up in Kansas. With all the windows open, you could almost hear the steam rising from the empty streets. This song drifts and floats like summer heat; there's also a tinge of the isolation you feel when all you want to do is sleep."

All Songs Considered producer Robin Hilton

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Los Lonely Boys

CD: Los Lonely Boys
Song: "Heaven"
Label: Epic Records

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Heaven"

"This summer, my favorite song is 'Heaven' by Los Lonely Boys. It has a nice West Texas rock beat; there are clear harmonies, and it just has sweet lyrics. Also, I love the way the Garza Brothers put three syllables in the word 'heaven' making it 'he-ah-vun' in a very cool fashion. Summer songs have to ultimately be singable, especially behind the wheel, and it helps if you can dance to them under the stars with a cool beverage nearby. 'Heaven' definitely qualifies."

- Micki in Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Old 97s

CD: Fight Songs
Song: "Oppenheimer"
Label: Elektra

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"This song is a fantastic, light, breezy pop song from a fantastic alt-country/rock/pop band. The handclaps and playful lyrics make me think of sunny days and driving with the windows down."

- Katie in Fairfax, Virginia

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Norah Jones

CD: Feels Like Home
Song: "Sunrise"
Label: Blue Note

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Sunrise"

"I first heard 'Sunrise' visiting my sister one weekend. Her apartment has this combination of large windows and bright decor that invites the morning sun and invigorates me to have a greatly relaxing day. And hearing Norah Jones just complemented that feeling. The song reminds me of those rare Sundays when I have no impending deadlines to rush me out the door; when I wake to the morning sun and the only things that tempt me are a comfy bed and a warm cup of coffee. Norah Jones is one of a kind on this season's mainstream radio. With the coming heat and humidity this summer, the daily news' troubling topics and my busy weekdays, I find solace in her music, and I'm taken somewhere calm and cool."

Ruben in Kansas City, Kansas

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Oi Va Voi

CD: Laughter Through Tears
Song: "D'ror Yikra"
Label: Outcaste Records

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "D'ror Yikra"

"It was cold and raining, and it was March. I was browsing through some Klezmer music I'd found on the Internet. I came across the London group, Oi Va Voi's 2003 album, Laughter Through Tears. Well, it's not really a klezmer album, but it's got Klezmer roots and clever rhythms, and this track was especially fresh and energetic. I was addicted. The song makes you want to go out in a gauzy dress and twirl around in an evening zephyr. If you were to hear this music on the beach, instead of sullenly hoping it would be turned down, you'd skip over and ask a perfect stranger what it is."

- Nicole in Baltimore, Maryland

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The Go Betweens

CD: 16 Lovers Lane
Song: "Streets of Your Town"
Label: Beggars Banquet

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Streets of Your Town"

"I've always loved songs that are kind of paradoxical in nature. They sound at first to be about one thing - or feel like one thing - but really about something different altogether, or much more ambiguous than they first appear. (Randy Newman is a master of writing such songs.) 'Streets of Your Town' has a simple but infectious two-chord acoustic guitar riff, a lilting rhythm track and sweet harmonies. On the surface it's a very sunny sounding song and I love playing it in the summer while driving (makes me wish I had a convertible). In fact, I've read that the BBC would play this song only on sunny days. It just sounds like summer, the same way a good Beach Boys song does. But while the lyrics at first appear to be somewhat innocuous, there are references to battered wives and butcher's knives. 'Don't the sun look good today? But the rain is on its way.' There's something more ominous going on here and that's one of the things that intrigues me so much about the song."

- Jim in Portsmouth, Rhode Island

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The Heptones

CD: Sea of Love
Song: "Nine Pounds of Steel"
Label: Heartbeat

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Nine Pounds of Steel"

"When I think of summer, I hear in my mind's ear ska and its derivatives, i.e. rock-steady, dance-hall, and reggae. Whether it's lounging by the pool with Skatelites, or partying on sultry mid-summer nights to Hepcat or The Heptones or The Maytals or barbecuing on the beach to the old ska/rocksteady recordings of Bob Marley, ska music IS summer. I would have to say that the song that reminds me most of summer, namely summer nights, is The Heptones' 'Nine Pounds of Steel.'"

- Paul

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The Shins

CD: Chutes Too Narrow
Song: "Saint Simon"
Label: Sub Pop

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Saint Simon"

"Summer is the quiet rejuvenation of the virile and exciting life of our youth. That's what I see in this song. James Mercer is trying to accept the secrets behind the canon of the 'saints in us,' but all he really needs is a break. 'Saint Simon' could be an anthem for these brief months of rest. The song even sounds like summer. Lilting female vocals saunter from curvaceous belly dancers with coconut bras. Strings and bright guitars are massaged with the clean scales of a Rainbow fish. James Mercer sounds sleepily satisfied, like he just peeled dry skin from a crusty tan and he's ready for a whole day of swimming, for a few more hours in the sand. Lord Almighty, bless this honey sweet song..."

- Dom in Chicago, Illinois

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Teenage Fanclub

CD: Grand Prix
Song: "About You"
Label: Geffen

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "About You"

"The first time I heard 'About You' by Teenage Fanclub I was walking down Broadway near 4th Street in Manhattan on a crystal clear summer day. That's when I heard the song's luscious, opening three-part harmonies emanating from a record store. I immediately stopped in and had to know what they were playing: I bought Grand Prix on the spot. I must have listened to that song at least 100 more times that day. Although the song doesn't mention summer in any way (it's a love song), it always reminds me of summer because those opening chords and harmonies are just so joyous, so harmonious, so, well... summer. I didn't own a car back then, but when I first heard "About You,' I desperately wanted to find the nearest convertible, jump in and put the top down. I do have a car now - still not a convertible - and when I hear the song these days I still have that desire, especially amidst the many cloudy days of Grand Rapids, Michigan (where I now live). No matter what the time, place or season, when I hear 'About You' I'm immediately transported back to that beautiful summer day in Manhattan.

- Michael in Grand Rapids, Michigan

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CD: Automatic For the People
Song: "Night Swimming"
Label: Warner

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Night Swimming"

"('Night Swimming') encompasses the longing of youth and the wistful realization that the innocence of summer (and ourselves) is fleeting. It always makes me think of driving at night, the car windows down, the crickets a distant hum under the sounds of street and radio... the inescapable heat of the South in summer and the desire to escape beneath water - to become entangled in something deeper and more natural, primal."


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Modest Mouse

CD: Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Song: "Float On"
Label: Epic

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "Float On"

"The song is all light and fluffy like you feel when you step out of the house into the fresh air of spring giving you no choice but to smile, at least on the inside. From the opening guitar lick, you realize its going to be a damn good day, a fresh start. It's about hope in the midst of never ending despair which you can really hear in the song, like they're almost forcing themselves to believe that we will all indeed 'float on.' I've been a fan of Modest Mouse for a few years and all of their previous albums have taken me deep into the depths of a rather harsh new reality that I accidentally fell in love with. Their latest album however, Good News for People Who Love Bad News, is exactly what it states."

- Benjamin Winona, Minnesota

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Captain Kangaroo

Record: In the Good Old Summertime
Song: "In the Good Old Summertime"
Label: Golden Records

Listen to All Songs ConsideredListen to "In the Good Old Summertime"

"I loved my childhood 45 record of Captain Kangaroo singing 'In the Good Old Summertime.' I'd play that thing over and over until my brothers would beg me to stop... then I'd switch to something equally wonderful: 'The Pied Piper of Hamlin.' I think on the flip side. It's now 42 years later, and I can still hear both songs in my head as well as hear the metallic sound of my warped record on the turntable, skimming across the bottom as it scraped the record player base, always to the beat of the song."

- Mary in Charlottesville, Virginia

This record is looooooooong out of print.

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