Saturday, August 30, 2008


For most of us, Labor day weekend signals the end of summer, even though we have about 3 weeks before the actual calendar date. Summer means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Whether they enjoy it, or whether they are just waiting for the heat to end.

In June there is anticipation. Summer is still too lazy to get out of bed and spring often has to fill in a few days still. July and August tend to come roaring out, blasting us with long hot lazy days. Whether I get to indulge or not, I always think of picnics and cold beer and days from my childhood that lasted forever and ended too quickly.

I also have certain songs that say summer too me. Mostly old songs from my misspent youth. Bruce Springsteen's "Thunder Road". Aretha Franklin singing "Freeway of Love", or "Chain of Fools". Pop tunes from Motown and Phil Specter that used to play on the old Emerson in monaural sound in the 60's when I was still a little Ganome. Songs from the 70's when I was first testing out my wings in the wider world. Donna Summers, "Love to Love You" and later "Bad Girls" and "Last Dance". Hot summer nights dancing at the A House in Provincetown, where they would end the night playing Connie Francis, "Where the Boys Are".

One piece of music that just says summer to me is Beethoven's 6th. Small wonder, since it is suppose to describe a summer walk in the country in music.

I did not come to classical music until I was a young adult away from home for the first time, living in the the city which has been my home for 33 years now. I was introduced by the new friends I was making, who taught me I could love Donna Summers and the Tramps and still make room for symphonic music and opera. I am eternally grateful. Many, far too many really, of these friends are no longer here. Casualties of AIDS. If they are now physically absent, they are still with me when certain pieces play. However, the 6th doesn't have any specific personal memory, I don't hear it and think, "Oh, So and so loved this piece!". It just makes me think of the pleasures of summer.