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

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer Means Fun, Part 3: Long After the Boys of Summer Have Gone

You say you want your MTV? 

Remember former Eagle Don Henley's hit 
"The Boys of Summer" and the retro style 
black & white video that accompanied it? 

"The Boys of Summer" - Don Henley 
(December 1984, highest chart position #6) 

"Boys of Summer" sets the stage for the next two chapters of my  Summer Means Fun  series. In this post and the next you'll hear some of my favorite summer songs made by male recording artists and groups.

Let's start by turning back the clock 51 years to the summer of 1960 and a daring ditty that became a #1 smash and rivaled the popularity of "The Twist." Brian Hyland made the church lady squirm with his tale about a young lass and her revealing two-piece bathing suit.

"Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow 
Polkadot Bikini" - Brian Hyland 
(August 1960, highest chart position #1) 

Now let's fast forward to 1963 and a big memory maker from May and June of that year.

A top 10 hit nationally, and a frequent flier on the airwaves across WSBA Land, here's Nat King Cole with one of the most evocative summer songs ever!

"Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" 
-Nat King Cole (June 1963, highest chart 
position #6)

Another highlight of the summer of '63 was a soulful dance number with punchy horns that became a major hit for Chicago singer and Northern Soul giant Major Lance.

"The Monkey Time" began its journey on the Billboard chart in July and kept us dancing all the way through York Fair week in September. "The Monkey Time" takes me back to those marvelous days of late summer in Central Pennsylvania – warm days and cool nights, low humidity, cobalt blue skies, and locusts buzzing in the fields.

"The Monkey Time" - Major Lance 
(August 1963, highest chart position #8) 

Surf instrumentals proliferated during the early 1960s.
“The Lonely Surfer” by Jack Nitzsche had a greater impact
on me than any other instrumental before or since.

"The Lonely Surfer" exemplifies the wall of sound production style used with great success by record mogul Phil Spector. French horns evoke a sense of loneliness, adventure and danger as the surfer summons the courage to ride a monster wave to shore.  From late summer 1963, here's the mother
of all surfing tunes!

"The Lonely Surfer" - Jack Nitzsche 
(August 1963, highest chart position #39) 

It would be incorrect to call Jack Nitzsche a one-hit wonder. In a career that spanned 40 years, the legendary arranger, composer, songwriter, producer and studio musician played
a key role in creating some of the biggest rock ‘n roll and
pop hits of the 60s.

1963 was also a breakthrough year for Lou Christie, a pop singer whose recordings made use of his three octave vocal range. The suburban Pittsburgh native emerged from the obscurity of his act Lugee and The Lions and cracked the
top 30 with "The Gypsy Cried," backed by a trio of female friends who formed the girl group The Tammys. Christie followed-up with an even bigger hit "Two Faces Have I" which broke the top 10 and logged an impressive 15 week chart run.

"Two Faces Have I" - Lou Christie 
(May 1963, highest chart position #6) 

Soft summer breeze and the surf rolls in 

To laughter of small children playin' 

Someone's radio has the news tuned in 

But nobody cares what he's sayin' 

Lyrics you gotta love from "Turn-Down Day" by the Cyrkle,
a decidedly cool Easton, Pennsylvania group with a number of interesting connections. They were discovered and managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein and given their name by Epstein's business partner Nathan Weiss. As Wiki explains it John Lennon assigned the unique spelling to Cyrkle
in reference to a circular roundabout in the heart of Easton. Listen now to the song that describes the natural high that can be yours when you put your troubles on the shelf and find a spot to kick back and unwind.

"Turn-Down Day" - The Cyrkle 
(September 1966, highest chart 
position #16) 

Stick around. More great seasonal sounds from the
boys of summer
are on the way next time!

Have a Shady day!


  1. Shady- I've just found your blog and am amazed at your encyclopedic knowledge of not just music, but good music! The Eagles and Don Henley have been favorites of mine and it was nice to think about those hours spent listening to them and learning about the other songs, as well.

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. Shelly - Hello and a great big Texas welcome to you! I have seen you around on other blogs and I sincerely thank you for following mine. That Don Henley video resonates with me because it flashes back to my earliest years. Don reportedly told Rolling Stone that the song is not about lost love but rather a metaphorical opus about the despair we experience through aging and also a questioning the past. If you enjoy a variety of music laced with humor you have come to the right place. I am very pleased to meet you, Shelly, and I hope you will keep coming back for more!

  3. Shady my friend you have made my sunday morning again with some of my favorites. The happy "bikini" tune always made me smile and feel full of joy. One of my all time favorite singers had to be Nat King Cole and that was one of his best for me and "Two faces have I" is a tune I loved but haven't heard in so many years. Thanks so much for your continued hard work making our days.

  4. Odie - I love to make your day, especially when it's a special one like your anniversary. I hope that you and Linda have a wonderful meal at the Olive Garden and keep on making happy memories together for many years to come. Thank you very much for taking time to visit, good buddy!

  5. I love Jack Nitzsche, he was such a great composer and scored one of my favourite films Stand By Me which is also a great film set during the Summer funnily enough! I'm loving this summer series, music like this helps me deal with the horrible weather outside!


  6. Loved these songs, Shady. "Turn Down Day" had a nice video with many memories form me. I did love the excitement of the sixties when I was young.

    "The Boys of Summer" is the only one I didn't recognize and the video was nice. Sometimes I think of the past and what might have been, but that road goes nowhere I'm afraid!
    "Polka Dot Bikini" was always a favorite, it is such a cute song.

  7. Emma - I have to wonder what's going on with your fickle weather in the British Isles! The warm season's short enough without gale force winds and monsoon rains spoiling it! I'm delighted to know that somebody as young as you has an appreciation of Jack Nitzsche, a key behind-the-scenes figure in 60s music. Thank you very much for coming over, Emma, and have a fine week ahead!

    Belle - The wording of your comment reminded me of the lyrics to "Kicks" by Paul Revere & the Raiders:

    No, you don't need kicks
    To help you face the world each day
    That road goes nowhere
    I'm gonna help you find yourself another way.

    While just about every song that I present here is a favorite of mine, I am particularly fond of the Cyrkle. I'll have their other big hit coming up in a later post. Thank you very much for your visit and your comment, dear friend Belle! I hope that you are in good spirits and have a wonderful week!

  8. woo hoo! Loved this playlist Mr. Knight. It was a perfect pick me up on a gloomy and cold day in June. Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow
    Polkadot Bikini is such a fun tune and reminds me that soon enough I will be able to high tail it to the beach and enjoy some fun the sun.

  9. Amber Blue Bird - A gloomy and cold day? Where are you...on the slopes of Mount Everest? (LOL) I've endured a seemingly endless string of sunny, 95 degree days down here. I'll gladly trade you, at least for a while. I'm delighted to know that Brian's "Bikini" song has inspired you to head off the beach. Please PLEASE remember to take along your camera, my dear! Have a super week ahead, dear Amber!

  10. Every time I come to visit you, I always enjoy your posts and I'm constantly reminded that I don't make it over Here to your blog nearly enough! I always enjoy some great oldies that I havent heard in too long and I'm always schooled on others I have been missing out on! Polka Dot Bikini will always be a classic!

  11. Kristina - In my book you will always be a classic, dear friend! I appreciate what you wrote here. While it's true that I have missed your comments on my blog I completely understand that you have a lot on your plate at the moment. As far as I'm concerned our friendship is rock solid. Thank you very much for taking the time to visit and sample my summer sounds, dear Kristina!

  12. "But that road leads nowhere," is a quote I have never forgotten from J.B. Phillips. It refers to the thought that God should not allow pain and suffering and blaming him for all our problems, something I once did.

  13. Belle - During childhood and adolescence the common cry is "that's not fair." When we encounter problems we tend to lash out and blame them on anyone and anything except ourselves. With maturity comes the understanding that we must assume responsibility and stop making excuses and assigning blame. You and I have both made tremendous strides in this area. Thank you very much for your candor, dear friend Belle. It is something that I know I can always count on from you.

  14. OK, that tears it! I will NO longer visit your blog, Shady, unless I have a frozen, umbrella-clad drink in hand! Thanks for making it feel all summery in here! I needed that!

    My favorite of these is Nat King Cole's. He makes ANY song sound fabulous and special, doesn't he? Alan's and my song is "Unforgettable!"

  15. Hi, Joan! As you might recall I posted Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" duet back in February when I observed the anniversary of Helen Ettline's passing. As for the Nat Cole song posted here, I remember it as one of the songs that young and old alike enjoyed in the summer of 1963. I'm so glad my tunes got your toes a tappin' and I hope you'll stay close for 9 more installments of Summer Means Fun! Good night, dear Joanie!

  16. Hahaa! We ARE on the same wave length, Shady! Brian Hyland's Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini is so much fun. I just can't hep singing along.

    The church ladies STILL balk at the thought. I doubt it will ever change. Those of us who dare wear the Polka dot bikini sometimes do feel the urge to hide in the locker to avoid harsh judgement!

  17. Crystal Pistol - I hear ya! To this day I still get dirty looks whenever I wear mine. Perhaps I should switch from yellow polka dots to a more conservative, muted tone! (LOL) Thank you very much for playing the Shady Dell jukebox again today, C-P, and have a wonderful week ahead, my friend!

  18. Well, Shady, not a bad song in the whole bunch. You can't go wrong with Don Henley's song, thanks for the video which I'd never seen, and "The Lonely Surfer" was a classic as soon as it was released. Brian Hyland's song is always better with the imagination than the actual song, but I can remember two songs he made several summers later, both favorites of mine, "Ginny Come Lately", followed by the perennial "Sealed With A Kiss". I also remember the Impressions being at the top of the charts that same summer, but I can't remember if it was with "Gypsy Woman" or the later song, "It's All Right". Now, for the girls, I'll always remember Connie Francis with "Where The Boys Are" and V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N". Whatever you provide, we'll jam to the memories, and pour a lemonade with you in mind, as well as the ladies and other guys who are jamming along to your blog.

    Don't forget your sunscreen, and have a great week.

  19. Hi, Ron! If you're craving Connie, stay tuned to SDMM. An upcoming installment of Summer Means Fun will include a Connie Francis block party, her great summer songs year by year. I'm glad you got the chance to see the Don Henley video for the first time. It made quite an impression on me when it ran on MTV in the mid 80s. Thanks for coming in for a visit, Ron, and we'll be looking for your next feature a little more than two weeks from now!

  20. ♫ Two, three, four ... Shady reminds us what she wore! ♫ Thank you so much, Shady, for the remembrance of that great old hit! I do believe "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" was one of first pop tune hits that I remembered as a child. (Mom, what is a bikini?) I loved that song and today can't get it out of my mind.

    Who could forget Nat King Cole's hit, "Those Lazy Hazy Days of Summer". You painted a beautiful picture of Central PA in your commentary on "The Monkey Time": "...warm days and cool nights, low humidity, cobalt blue skies and locusts buzzing in the fields".

    Lou Christie's "Two Faces Have I" is another favorite. An interesting fact you shared that John Lennon is credited with the unique spelling of "Cyrkle". Such good lyrics/good advice in Crykle's "Turn Down Day". (Sittin' here wondering if 'Red Rubber Ball' is gonna be on Shady's near horizon ... I will patiently wait and see ;~D)

    How about a big round of applause for Shady, hands together people ...

  21. Hello, Cindy! Your smiling face always brightens my day. Yessum, I can assure you that "Red Rubber Ball" is in the pipeline along with more of Lou Christie and his Tammys. As I will observe in an upcoming post, nearly all of the songs that I included in this Summer Means Fun series were released in 1966 or earlier. In fact a good number of them were released in 1963 or earlier. I suppose it's because I am equating fun with innocence and the best way to find innocence in pop music is to start at 1963 and march back in time from there. Your visit and your lovely comments mean a lot to me, Cindy. Thank you very much, dear friend, and take care!

  22. How I love all my summer songs - even better played in the winter when you can dance around the front room thinking of the sunshine! Hope you're having a shady day over there - Sir Alfred sends his very best regards :)

  23. Gawgus - Thank you, dear friend! I loved the wedding pics on your site and on your mum's. Sir Alfred is Best of Show in my book. I can just imagine that dapper dog with my pipe in his mouth! I'm glad you found a few bopworthy numbers in this batch and I hope you will come back again soon! Good night to you in France, G-T!


You talkin' to me?