Welcome back to 4TR for another year, to all our readers here and overseas thanks for your continued support, we look forward to sharing more unique insights, and the stories behind the songs in the coming year. We commence with our Summer Hits edition today, running through to Thursday Feb. 4th, to be followed by a fascinating perspective on the life and music of Jimmy Barnes, 1984 – 2019, the mostly solo period of his career, packed with drama, excess, and lots of blue-collar rock and roll.
But as we are now in the middle of an Antipodean Summer, its time to look at the songwriters who have been inspired by the power and mystique of the weather. Music is an artform that is most suited to making the natural world come alive, to imbue the weather with human characteristics in a melodramatic personification of the elements, so that sunny skies and rainy days are readily used as allegories for the human condition.
As Australians we celebrate our national holiday on January, 26th and are reminded of the glorious Summer days that have inspired so many of our local songwriters to indulge themselves in our climate-obsessed passion, to talk about, write about, and sing about that most revered of seasons. For Australians it is not Spring but Summer that is the most fecund of all seasons, crops are harvested, wine is bottled, seafood is plentiful, the rolling surf is endless, and we are all enjoying holidays, even in this time of COVID. Summer-inspired songs are not merely sentimental or cliched, they probe our sub-conscious and heighten our awareness about something as fundamental as climate change, whatever the climate is that we are measuring – political, economic, societal, environmental, but for all that we still love a good summery allegory, have you ever been – Walking on Sunshine, having a Heatwave, letting The Sun Catch You Crying, seeing an April Sun in Cuba, feeling a Summer Breeze or Sunshine On Your Shoulders, taking a Summer Holiday, having the Summertime Blues, basking in the Sunshine of Your Love or a Sunny Afternoon, feeling like Sunshine Superman, or maybe just hoping to see the Boys of Summer. If you are now taking the sublimal test to name the performers who recorded these songs, you’ll find the answers below.
But its not just the sounds of Summer that define this season in Australia, there are also the fragrances, the aromas, the heady redolences that inspire us to play our favorite songs, and immerse ourselves in the golden glow of another sun-dappled day, so here are some, there are many others – sunscreen, aloe vera after you still get burnt, saltwater entering your sinuses, sausages on the barbie, cloves and molasses glaze on a Xmas ham, cut grass, Aerogard and citronella candles, a bowl of prawns, fresh mangoes and cherries, melted ice cream, fish and chips at the beach, pool chlorine, bursting water balloons, fragipani and petunias, a crisp white wine, and a malty pale ale – I just had to finish with a tipple.
Surfing is also part of any Australian Summer, it’s one of our national pastimes, and all along the vast coastline of our island continent there are numerous world class surf beaches – The Pass and Lennox Head (Byron Bay), Bells Beach, Noosa, Margaret River, Coolangatta and Burleigh Heads (Qld). But the best indicator of where to surf on almost any day of the week is to look out for the number of tradies utilility trucks parked along the roadside, they would have downed tools and headed for the best surf in the area, and are a reliable guide to where the surf is up, it’s an Australian tradition. Although surf rock was very much a Californian invention, given our weather and beaches, the genre was widely adopted Downunder, and the Atlantics had a US hit in 1963 with their thundering surf epic Bombora, for a more comprehensive coverage of local surf and other instrumental hits, check out the 4TR blog on Sept 10-12, 2019 – Classic Instrumentals.
Best wishes for the New Year, keep in touch, enjoy the music, and stay well.
(Katrina and the Waves, Martha and the Vandellas, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Dragon, Seals and Croft, John Denver, Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Eddie Cochrane, Cream, The Kinks, Donovan and The Eagles.)