It was warm enough to grill in Pennsyltucky this afternoon, and it’s going to get into the 70s this coming week.
I think we’re at that point in the year when a late-season snowstorm is finally out of the question, and it’s just about time to start putting the long-sleeved T-shirts at the back of the shelf.
Almost summer, in other words.
Which brings to mind a song that — by cosmic coincidence — was just starting to hit radio stations across America around this time in 1978.
(Its first appearance in the ever-faithful ARSA database is in the countdown for the week ending May 8, 1978, at WYSL-AM 1400 in Buffalo. They get excited about the coming of summer in Buffalo.)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Bea — er, Celebration featuring Mike Love:
“Almost Summer,” the title track to a California teen movie I’ve never seen that sounds like a hoot if you don’t think too hard about anything in it, has to have one of the worst opening couplets of the Seventies:
“Susie wants to be a lady director
and Eddie wants to drive a hearse
Johnny wants to be a doctor or lawyer
and Linda wants to be a nurse.”
Who in the world has ever wanted to drive a hearse?
The second verse doesn’t get much better — there’s a self-referential mention of a “little deuce coupe,” as well as another of the BBs’ near-obsessive references to hair.
(I wrote about this once on my now-departed other blog — there are a surprising number of BBs songs with references to hair. I may dig out that one and repost it here. Since “Almost Summer” was co-written by Love, Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, I say it belongs in the same discussion.)
I revere Brian, adore Carl and sort of quietly respect the other Beach Boys. But I think Tony Asher and Van Dyke Parks might have been the most valuable people in that entire enterprise over the years, simply because of their abilities to write lyrics that didn’t embarrass anybody.
Meanwhile, I have no idea who else was in Celebration. The Interwebs describe them as a “studio band.” Not sure whether Brian played on the record, or simply appeared in the videos for promotional purposes.
Whoever they were, their song broke into the American Top 40 the week of June 3, 1978, and peaked a few weeks later at Number 29.
It was gone from the Top 40 a month after it arrived — perhaps because a song called “Almost Summer” lost all its appeal once it actually was summer. Who wants to be reminded of going back to class and cracking books when it’s the Fourth of July?
As minor as it was, “Almost Summer” may represent the last gasp of America’s rediscovered Seventies love affair with the Beach Boys.
The band proper would have only one more Top 40 hit in the ’70s — “Good Timin’,” which slipped in at No. 40 in the spring of 1979. And from there on out, the band would pretty much build its entire brand on nostalgia.
The remaining Beach Boys have a new album of original material — something a lot of people never thought they would see — coming out in a little over a month.
Perhaps that album will be the talk of the summer of 2012. Anything seems possible when it’s almost summer.