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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

The price of gas, the cost of lodging, meals and getting time off - a lot of things can get between you and that much-needed vacation. We asked musical contributor David Was to come up with a sonic journey for summer. Here are his offerings for the dog days before us.

DAVID WAS: Is there a musical equivalent to a Danielle Steel novel? Something meant to dance about your ears without fully weighing down your brain? Such would seem the proper recipe for summer music, when the sensual exigencies of the moment - sun, surf and sand - supersede one's need for deep thinking or brooding emotions.

Discontented winters are the time for Dostoevsky novels and Beethoven string quartets.

(Soundbite of music)

WAS: Summer is about forgetfulness. A few drams of a tropical umbrella drink and the right music, and you are blissfully cemented in the here and now. The mellowest of drinking songs ever was composed by Billy Barnes and sung with delicate restraint by June Christy. "Something Cool" is summertime in a tumbler. All you need to supply are the tinkling ice cubes.

(Soundbite of song, "Something Cool")

Ms. JUNE CHRISTY (Singer): (Singing) It's so warm here in town, and the heat gets me down. Yes, I'd like something cool. My, it's nice to simply sit and rest a while.

WAS: If jazz is, indeed, the quintessence of cool, Concord Music's recent re-release of a classic pair of albums might obviate the need to turn on the air conditioner this summer.

(Soundbite of song, "Young and Foolish")

Mr. TONY BENNETT (Singer): (Singing) Why is it wrong to be young and foolish?

Pianist Bill Evans and singer Tony Bennett went in the studio in the mid-1970s to cut two albums' worth of standards and earned the greatest saloon singer in the world a whole new kind of respect. Supported by Evans delicate touch and rarefied harmonic palette, Bennett sings "Young and Foolish" as if he remembers such bygone days all too well.

(Soundbite of song, "Young and Foolish")

Mr. BENNETT: (Singing) Smiling in the sunlight, laughing in the rain, I wish that we were young and foolish again.

WAS: At the risk of bringing down the party vibe with something too wan and sentimental, might I suggest a little Jonathan Richman to lighten the mood a tad?

(Soundbite of song, "That Summer Feeling")

Mr. JONATHAN RICHMAN (Singer): (Singing) That summer feeling, that summer feeling, that summer feeling. When there's things to do, not because you gotta. When you run for love, not because you outghta. When you trust your friends with no reason notta, the joy I've named shall not be tamed. And that's summer feeling is gonna haunt you one day in your life.

WAS: "That Summer Feeling" is one of Richman's signature songs, and a perfect wedding of nostalgia and hard-bitten wisdom. Warning: The lazy guitar strumming and lyrical sweetness may induce memories of beachside bonfires and ice-cold beer. As Richman sings: That summer feeling is gonna haunt you one day in your life. May you go there gently.

(Soundbite of song, "That Summer Feeling")

Mr. RICHMAN: When the cool of the pond makes you drop down on it, when the smell of the…

SIEGEL: David Was is half of the musical duo Was (Not Was). His suggestions for a sonic summer break are June Christy's "Something Cool," Bill Evans' and Tony Bennett's "Young and Foolish," and "That Summer Feeling" by Jonathan Richman.

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