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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

As we've been talking to artists about their favorite songs of summer, a lot of listeners have written in with their own musical memories. And a bunch of you wrote to say that this song…

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: …that this song evokes summer more than any other.

(Soundbite of song, "Summer in the City")

Mr. JOHN SEBASTIAN (Musician): (Singing) Hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirt and gritty, been down, isn't it a pity doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city, all around, people looking half dead walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head.

BLOCK: The number one hit song from the summer of 1966, complete with car horns and a jackhammer, "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful. So I wondered what the group's founder and lead singer, John Sebastian, would pick for his song of summer. And he joins us from Woodstock, New York, to tell us. John Sebastian, welcome to the program.

Mr. JOHN SEBASTIAN: Thanks, Melissa, how are you?

BLOCK: I'm great. And you have picked another number one hit. It predates yours by just a couple of years.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: That's right. I picked "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS (Band): (Singing) Round, round, get around, I get around, yeah, get around round, round, I get around, I get around…

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Me and Felix Pappalardi, the wonderful bass player — he and I were a kind of a duo that accompanied a lot of folk groups. We also had classical background somewhere or another. And when we heard "I Get Around," we both looked at each other and we said, Bach.

BLOCK: Now, wait a second. You're hearing this song from 1964, "I Get Around," you're hearing Bach in this music.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Yeah, that's right.

BLOCK: Well, tell me what you're hearing in there.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Round, round, get around, I get around, yeah, get around round, round, I get around, I get around, get around round, round I get around.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Right now we're sort of in familiar surf territory.

BLOCK: Yeah.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Get around, round, I get around. I'm makin' real good bread. Get around round, round, I get around.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: All right. So, now it's a stop break(ph).

BLOCK: First verse coming after the chorus.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Yeah.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) I gotta find a new place…

Mr. SEBASTIAN: There's a little, like a C section, kind of.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) My buddies and me are getting real well- known. Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: You know, it's wonderful to hear a set of changes. There isn't just a verse and a chorus, that there's something that leads you from one of those to the other.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) I get around round, round, get around, round.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Kind of goes back and gives you the same information again, like in a chorale.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Wah wa oooh.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: And now here we are at the part that everybody can sing along with. It's very much like church music that Bach wrote.

BLOCK: I think I'm starting to hear it the way you are.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Their best girl home now on Saturday night, I get around, get around round, round.

BLOCK: Although right now, I'm back cruising in California.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Sure, I mean you can't, you can't help but sweep your hair back.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) I'm makin' real good bread. Get around round, round, I get around.

BLOCK: So you were listening to this in the summer of 1964. This was the Beach Boys' first number one hit, I think, and…

Mr. SEBASTIAN: That's right.

BLOCK: …and you said, California, here I come.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Well, we had just come out of this dark New York winter and huddling on Bleecker and MacDougal in leather jackets, and just feeling like we were Woody Guthrie and all of this stuff. And now, here is this wonderfully folk-free influence. And then when we would get gigs in Los Angeles, and you'd rent the car and you'd turn this tune up - you know, that was heaven.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Get around round, round, I get around. I'm makin' real good bread. Get around round, round, I get around.

BLOCK: Well, John Sebastian, it's great to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Mr. SEBASTIAN: Thank you.

(Soundbite of song, "I Get Around")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Get around round, round...

BLOCK: John Sebastian, the founder and former lead singer of the band the Lovin' Spoonful. You'll find more of our Summer Song series at the newly redesigned npr.org.

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