The grocery store nearest my house likes to act all modern n’ crap when it comes to music.
There was a period, for instance, when I heard the Bono-Mary J. Blige duet version of “One” every single time I went into the store.
I also hear a fair amount of that dreadful Southern-accented pop-country that goes on nowadays. I would cite examples if I cared to look up the names of the performers or the titles of the songs.
I was wicked surprised, then, to hear Percy Faith’s “Theme from ‘A Summer Place’ ” the other day while I was comparing the virtues of various avocados.
I didn’t think this song ever really got played anywhere nowadays. I thought it was just sort of a cultural earworm — a song we’ve all heard at some point in the past, and that we all know the name of, but that we don’t ever actually hear unless we happen to catch the movie of the same name on the late show.
(Maybe someday I will Google the lyrics, just to know what they are. I have a sense that the first line is “Theeeeeeeeere’s a sum-mer plaaaaace.” The rest of it could be the Bar Harbor phone book as far as I know.)
To people who know the movie or are of a certain generation (my folks’), the song is probably evocative of love and longing and salty sea breezes.
To me, it is the veritable National Anthem of those dull dead polite years around 1959-60 when good energetic rock n’ roll was harder to find than rocking-horse shit.
Ol’ Percy redeemed himself 15 years later, though, when he leaped on the emerging disco train and cut a funked-up version called “Summer Place ’76.” (The effort apparently exhausted him, as he passed away in February of 1976.)
This is what an earworm should be — replete with big strings and dramatic horns and conga players and waka-jawaka. Now this is what I call easy listening:
The only radio station on record with the good taste to play “Summer Place ’76” was KVSL in Show Low, Arizona. The ARSA database of local radio play surveys has “Summer Place ’76” showing up on two KVSL surveys from December 1975.
KVSL’s Dec. 15, 1975, survey — the last to include “Summer Place ’76” — suggests a certain schizophrenia in the station’s format. Dig the top two tunes on the countdown: Simon and Garfunkel’s mellow “My Little Town,” followed by a cold shot of British heavy metal in Rainbow’s “Man In The Silver Mountain.”
There’s some weird business going on on that countdown. I’d say more about it if I didn’t have this … this thing in my head.
“Theeeeeeere’s …. a sum-mer plaaaaaaace….”