High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Means Fun (Part 3) ---------- V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N

School's out forever.
It's time for sunnin' and funnin'...dancin' and romancin'...
and I've got just the right songs for the occasion!

Connie Francis was one of the most successful international pop icons of the late 50s and early 60s. In recent years, I have grown increasingly fond of this talented and versatile songbird.

In 1962, Connie Francis invited kids everywhere to put away their books and have a ball in the summer sun. She didn't have to ask me twice. Here's one of Connie's many top 10 hits, "Vacation."

The underrated Gary Lewis is back with another great warm weather memory. In the spring of 1965 I took advantage of a breakfast cereal promotion from Kellogg's Corn Flakes. I sent in a box top and received by mail a free floppy disc record which contained three songs by Gary Lewis & the Playboys: "This Diamond Ring," a customized cereal song entitled "Doin' the Flake," and "Little Miss Go-Go," the original flip side of Gary's hit single "Count Me In."

That killer bee, "Little Miss Go-Go," soon became my Pick to Click. From May and June of 1965, here are Gary Lewis & the Playboys!

Those transistor sisters bring back memories of the summer of 1964. I remember floating in my backyard swimming pool listening to WSBA when a new song began to play. It had such a fresh, exuberant sound that I ditched my raft and swam over to the deck to be closer to the radio.

School is out and we're glad that we passed.
Summer time is here at last.
There's so many things that we wanna do.
And we can do them now that school is through.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh-oh-oh-oh
It's summer time 'cross the U.S.A.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh-oh-oh-oh
From San Francisco to Philly, PA.

Boasting bright, sparkling clean Brill Building production and angelic girl group harmony, the song sounded like it was being performed by the cheerleading squad at a high school pep rally. Somewhat derivative of Jan & Dean's "The New Girl in School," but with a different theme and lyrics and a high energy beat, "It's Summer Time U.S.A." by the Pixies Three, a trio of young women from Hanover, Pennsylvania, was simply irresistible!

The record played in heavy rotation on the Mighty 910 and dominated for the rest of the summer. The Pixies Three made such a splash with "Summer Time U.S.A." that I almost found myself asking, "John, Paul, George and who?"

Although “It’s Summer Time, U.S.A.” was a major hit in our neck of the woods, it occurred to me that the kids mentioned in the lyrics, those living in cities like L. A., Frisco, and Chi-town, might never have even heard the song.

This Pixies Three record is another example of the killer bee phenomenon. The original A side, “The Hootch,” flatlined when jittery radio station program managers put 2 and 2 together and got 5. Since “hootch” is a slang term for hard liquor, the Einsteins in the suits surmised that the song promoted underage drinking. If they would have bothered to listen to the lyrics, they would have realized that “the hootch” was actually a new dance craze supposedly reaching our shores from Liverpool.

While some stations yanked the Pixies record off their playlists, savvy stations like WSBA flipped it and began to push “It’s Summer Time, U.S.A.” In doing so, another killer bee was born. For decades, "Summer Time U.S.A." has been one of my all time favorites. Recently, “The Hootch” has also grown on me to such an extent that it's now my Pick to Click! Listen to the Pixies singing "The Hootch," one of the featured songs on my soon-to-be-revealed list of The 10 Most Exciting Records Ever Made!

That fabulous Pixies platter is a coin toss that you simply can’t lose. Both sides rule!

Let's wind things up with the song that inspired this summer series, Jan & Dean's version of the Fantastic Baggys' surf/sand/hot rod classic "Summer Means Fun." J&D made the song one of the tracks on their album Little Old Lady From Pasadena.

From July of 1964, here's Jan & Dean with "Summer Means Fun."

Coming up in Part 4 of Summer Means Fun, some of the greatest summer car tunes of the 60s. I hope you'll join me!

Have a Shady day!

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