As we approach the end of July the end of summer appears on the horizon and if, like me, you looked forward to a new school year starting, you feel a sense of anticipation (possibly leavened with some dread) as well as a sense that, well, summer just isn’t long enough to pack in all the things which make summer summer. Thus the end of July is a time of contrasts.
1977: The Floaters, “Float On”
“Float On” is smooth and groovy and oh, so seventies in both tune and lyrics. I probably heard this at some point in the past, but likely not when it came out, as the only radio stations which were played around our house at the time had taglines like “No punk, no funk, no junk,” which basically meant only (white) rock and country music. This was the Floaters’ only hit song, which is unfortunate as they sing beautifully.
1982: Herb Alpert, “Route 101”
Ah, Herb Alpert. He and his band the Tijuana Brass were ubiquitous through the early parts of my life. I heard “Route 101” when it hit the charts, which would also have been about the time I started playing the trombone in junior high and listening to other artists like Chuck Mangione. I am a little irritated that I associate wonderful songs like this with distinctly unpleasant parts of my life like milking cows in the early morning, but at least down in the pit, covered in manure and either sweating or freezing, I had music like this to distract me.
1987: Danny Wilson, “Mary’s Prayer”
I definitely heard this song at some point, I just couldn’t say when and where. We couldn’t listen to music on the floor of the pickle factory, and it probably wouldn’t have gone over well with the inmates therein. Boy howdy, that was a terrible job.
1992: Rozalla, “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)”
I don’t know how I missed this one, back in the day. If I was more of a club-goer I would probably be more familiar with Rozalla, but then again this was the only one of her songs which made much of a splash in the US. She was much more popular in the UK and in her native Zimbabwe. I admit I am intrigued, and will definitely seek out more of her music.
1997: Warren G. featuring Ron Isley, “Smokin’ Me Out”
One of the best parts of this project is the way it is serving as a crash course/deep dive into R&B and Hiphop, two genres of music where I am woefully uninformed. I have heard of most of the artists in these lists (like Warren G.) but the songs, at the time (like “Smokin’ Me Out”), went right through me without leaving much of an impression. Which is unfortunate, because now that I am better about getting out of my own way, I really like the music.