Friday, July 11, 2014

A Summer's Day

                  
                  Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
                  Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
                  Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
                  And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
                  Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
                  And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
                  And every fair from fair sometime declines,
                  By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;
                  But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
                  Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
                  Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
                  When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
                  So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
                  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee

                  

The opening line to Sonnet 18 is probably one of Shakespeare's most recognizable. Many interpret it as a love poem, as if he is complimenting a woman on her beauty, perhaps wooing her while strolling through a summer garden. But some scholars believe it's actually an ode to Shakespeare's only son, Hamnet, who died at age 11 -- one year before the poem was written. When read in that context, the lines take on the somber tone of a father coming to grips with the loss of a child who died in the summer of his life. Read this famous summer poem again from that angle and see if it doesn't make more sense.






Okay, now that I've snuck in a bit of summer Shakespeare and brought everyone down, it's time for the Songs of Summer! This is a blog hop hosted by The Armchair Squid, Cygnus, and Suze. They (and I) thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite summer songs as everyone kicks back during these lazy days. For anyone not off at the pool or on vacation, here are five of my favorite summer songs for your listening pleasure.




Long Hot Summer by The Style Council (1983)

One of my favs just for the lazy summer tempo, but…oh, dear, another bummer. The song is about screwing up at love. 





Someone, Somewhere, In Summertime by Simple Minds (1982)

This one has been described as "a waltz through a mystical August haze."  Nothing to do with our new smoking laws here in Colorado, I assure you. 





1979 by Smashing Pumpkins (1996)

Not exactly a summer song per se, but it reminds me of my feral teen years, cruising the streets on summer nights with "the headlights pointed at the dawn." 





Summer Breeze by Seals and Croft (1972)

Yes, this is on my list. And, sure, I'm dating myself here, but this was a huge hit when I was a kid. I'll always associate summer with this song. And the harmony has that perfect summer vibe. 




Summertime sung by Ella Fitzgerald (1968)

Finally, I can't think of summer without this Porgy & Bess song running through my mind. For all the American Idol wannabes, this is how you do it. 







Oh, and before I wish you all a great summer weekend, I need to thank Liz Blocker for bestowing upon me the Versatile Blogger award. I'm supposed to come up with seven things about myself that I think you might be interested in. Um…that is difficult to do after more than three years of blogging. Besides, you can tell a lot about a person by the poetry and music they choose to share. That's my theory anyways. :)


What song says summer to you? Any of these songs make your list? Ever heard that theory about sonnet 18? 


Creative Commons photo of flowers by Alice Popkorn


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66 comments:

  1. You went way back for some of those. The Smashing Pumpkins one is good tune.
    Did you listen to the Type O Negative one of Summer Breeze I posted? A little bit different from the original, isn't it?

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  2. Oh, my sister had this Seals & Crofts album when I was a kid and she played it all the time. That song always takes me back to childhood and I still love it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

    I had no idea this sonnet was likely about Shakespeare's son. That definitely changes the tone and actually makes it more beautiful to me. The first line has always been one of my favorites.

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  3. What a fun collection of songs. Man, that Seals & Croft one really took me back. lol

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  4. Alex - Type O Negative was new to me. Yeah, a little different version. But I love it when stuff gets remade for new ears.

    Julie - I have two older sisters, and one of them was a teenager when that song came out. I heard it over and over and over…lol.

    Donna - I still hear it on summer soundtracks in stores. Takes me back too. :)

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  5. me actually knows that sonnet by heart :) and the LET ME NOT TO THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS.....one too :) I used to compete at poetry reciting competitions as a kid even though I didn't even know what Wills was talking about :)

    We do love summer songs.... mine would be all from the 80's and lambada of course :)

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  6. Did not know that about the connection between Shakespeare and Hamnet, but it makes perfect sense. It's not like he would've been all loopy over some lady at that time.

    And thanks for the summer flashbacks. 1979 is definitely a favorite, and I like the Style Council, too, though I didn't need to see his stomach that much. : p

    For my choices I'm going to have to limit it to one songwriter, 'cause with just Jimmy Buffett I'd have to name half his songs. So, to me, Springsteen will always be the great chronicler of summer, from the somber “Racing in the Streets,” to the scenes of “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and “Incident on 57th Street,” to the more recent “Girls in Their Summer Dresses.” He's got that novelist's eye for detail and character and delivers it with a summer's worth of passion.

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  7. GREAT list! I loved Seals and Crofts so much!

    Your book sounds interesting - I'm a little bit obsessed with Phillippa Gregory lately, so bring on the historical fiction!

    Thanks!
    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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  8. Some great songs on your list. I almost went with "Summer Breeze" myself, since that was one of the first records I bought way back when. And LOVE that version of "Summertime" with Ella. So powerful. Also really like the Simple Minds song -- I hadn't heard it in a long time and forgotten how good it was. Most people in the US only remember them for "Don't You Forget About Me" and "Alive and Kicking."

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  9. I like Alice Cooper's "School's Out". Boy, can Ella Fitzgerald sing :)
    And you know that I didn't know that about Shakespeare's sonnet, LOL.

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    1. Ha! I always sing that Cooper song to my son the last day of school. He just doesn't get it. LOL.

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  10. Dezzy - You were such a precocious child. Of course, I'd make all children memorize Shakespeare if I ruled the world. :P And, yes, I'm still stuck in the 80's for all my song choices. Can't help it.

    Steve - At least his stomach is tanned and he doesn't look like a cod just hauled into the boat. :P And good choice on the Springsteen. He would make a lot of people's lists. Agree about his storytelling eye, too.

    Cherdo - I was so into that song as a kid. Part of it was trying to keep up with my older sisters too. If they thought it was cool, I probably did too. :)

    Chris - Ella just kills it in that version. So in control of every single note. Love it. And I'm a big fan of Simple Minds. Always was. :)

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  11. The bit of Shakespeare was a downer. I was pretty busy in the '80s and admit to not liking a lot of the music that came from that decade. But any song that reminds one of summer is good.

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    1. I know, what a depressing link to summer. It's his most famous summer poem, though, and I'll take any excuse to sneak Shakespeare on the blog. Already did Midsummer Night's Dream last year. :P

      And I adored the 80's. Might be a little biased, though, since I was young and wild and still finding my way. Good times. :)

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  12. I've heard Summertime and the last song but not the first three...and I'm a child of the 80s! Of course, I remember Simple Minds and I've heard of The Style Council but I'm not sure what song of theirs I've heard.

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    1. I know! We both listed eighties songs, but I think we hung out in different corners of the decade. :P

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  13. Cool list and a reality check. Someone else posted Summer Breeze but I didn't recognise it; that's crazy. Also, 1979 is a great song. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Summer Breeze sounds kind of cheesy to me today, but when I was a kid I was hooked on it. It's just part of the soundtrack of my youth now. :)

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  14. "First Lady of Song" indeed L.G. A wonderful addition to the bloghop!

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    1. She kills it in that video! I also love Billie Holiday's version, but none of the recordings on YouTube are very good quality.

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  15. I love that golden oldie - "Summertime." Stunning! Pardon my irreverence, but Shakespeare reminds me of "Yoda Speak." Just stick in the verbs, subjects, and clauses in any order as long as the line rhymes and the meter works... (I'm awful, aren't I?)

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    1. You are fired! How dare you insult my bard's clauses and rhyme schemes! :P

      But sonnets are like little prisons for poems. Step out of line on meter and you go to solitary confinement. Makes them archaic sounding. But I do adore his imagery. This one, especially.

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  16. I just learned over at the Squidman's place that Summertime has been recorded approximately one bajillion times. But Ella's is my favorite. :)

    I think 1979 is a GREAT summer tune. It's got that laid back, nostalgic vibe that's perfect for lounging on a hot beach with a cool drink.

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    1. I liked his comment about artists being in their "Summertime" phase. It's such a standard. Seems like such a simple song, but it's powerful stuff in the right hands.

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  17. I knew that about that sonnet. People don't go past the first two lines, though, so how would anyone know?

    The only song that "summer" brings to mind is that Don Henley one, which isn't really a summer song despite the "summer" in the title.

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    1. True, that, about the first lines. But I'd never given it much thought along those lines either until I watched Michael Woods' documentary. Brilliant show, by the way.

      And I came so close to including that Don Henley song. It's a great driving song.

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  18. You know, actually, when I think of summer songs, I think of Bryan Adams, just in general, which reminds me: "Summer of '69." Okay, that's my summer song.

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    1. Oh, yeah, that's a good one too. That did cross my mind for this post, but I can't say it's a FAVorite. Maybe top tenish. :)

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  19. Wow, reading the sonnet from that angle certainly does change it's meaning. I'd never heard that.
    One song that really makes me thing summer is Nat King Cole's Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer.

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    1. I know! The first time I heard someone suggest it was about his dead son, I was flabbergasted. Loved the insight. Deepened the imagery so much more. They say he didn't write about the son's death that much, and yet it seems to have influenced most everything he wrote afterward.

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  20. Lu, I love your first three selections so much. Style Council has a delicious campiness about them and I am going to slip my headphones on and listen to the Simple Minds selection in its entirety. Diggin' it.

    1979, I didn't know that was the name of that song and I've always liked it. Cool pics for a hot day, girl. Oh, and:

    'Nothing to do with our new smoking laws here in Colorado, I assure you.'

    :)

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    1. Style Council is very campy visually. They have terrible videos, and that was during the peak of MTV! But on headphones they are divine. :)

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  21. First off, I'd never heard that theory about Sonnet 18 before, but it absolutely makes sense, almost in a DUH! sorta way. Why hadn't that ever occurred to me before? I guess, in some cases, we read into a poem (or song) what we want to read into it, because that theory certainly never crossed my mind before.

    I love your last two songs, but I've gotta admit, the first three were new to me.

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    1. Yeah, these blogfests always highlight just how subjective books, movies, and music tastes really are. Thank goodness we all like different stuff, though. How boring would it be if we all picked the same thing every time? And, well, I was more into the alternative music in the 80's, so that's what I know and love. But I'll listen to just about anything these days. :)

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  22. Those were good. I laughed when I read "my feral teen years"!

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    1. I had no supervision as a child or teen. May explain a lot about the adult I became. :P

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  23. That's an interesting theory about the sonnet, and I can totally see it.

    I hadn't heard the first two songs. I think I was too young to remember them back then.

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    1. Loni, I am old. Old, old, old. I was sixteen in 1979. That's why that song resonates with me. :)

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  24. Nobody does it better than Ella! Summer Breeze brings back many childhood memories for me too. I remember playing the 45 over and over again!

    Julie

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    1. Ella is giving a master course in singing right there. :) And you and my sister both played that 45 over and over again. Gosh, remember you had to buy that funny insert for the forty five so it would play on the record player?

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  25. Interesting, on the sonnet. Of course, there's "Under the Boardwalk"--classic summer tune!

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    1. Under the Boardwalk strikes me as an east coast song. I mean I like the tune, but I remember it was years before I even knew what they meant by a boardwalk or how you could get under it (they are somewhat rare here in Colorado :P) Made no sense to me.

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  26. Awesome selection. The Style Council was new to me. It's interesting to see which songs will get the most love... Summertime and Summer Breeze may be the two top contenders.

    And you're in Colorado? I'm moving there in January!

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    1. Style Council is what Paul Weller formed after The Jam, if you're familiar with them. And, yes, saw a lot of Summertime out there, which is fine by me. :)

      And welcome to Colorado! Consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Well, maybe not in January, but the rest of the year is awesome. :D

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  27. Great list. I also had Summer of '69 on my list--but had to winnow. Try turning 12 beloved songs into 5. This was almost harder than picking my favorite child. Almost.
    ;)
    Veronica

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    1. These lists are always so hard to do. What's the criteria? I ended up going mostly with songs that had summer in the title. Still tough.

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  28. Congrats on the blog award, lovely lovely lady. As for the summer songs I'll definitely go with Ella :). Sending one bigggggggggggggggggg hug.

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    1. You know that's the sort of song you sing to a little one when they're fussing in your arms. #unsolicitedadvice :D

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  29. What a great assortment! And another vote for Summertime, which is cool. I think I'm going to have Summer Breeze stuck in my head now...

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    1. They will invariably play Summer Breeze over the loudspeaker at your local grocery store while shopping this week. Then you'll hear it on the radio and in a TV commercial. :P

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  30. Ella is fabulous- I went with Janis Joplin's version- should have kept some stats on how often this song appears! Your summer memories seem are clearly fun :-)

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    1. I think it's official: Summertime, no matter who's singing it, is the song of summer. :)

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  31. I didn't recognize the first two songs but I love 1979 - it makes me think of California and summertime, two of my favorite things.

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    1. Yeah, there's something about that song, and I'm not even sure it's the lyrics so much, but it takes you back to your teen/rebel years. Or just wild nights. :)

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  32. SUMMER BREEZE... perfect - nailed it!
    ~ D-FensDogg

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    1. Yeah, that and Summertime were the two most mentioned.

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  33. You're probably right about the sonnet. I was detecting some of the same mood as I got to the final lines anyway, how it was a tribute to someone admired and loved, not necessarily a lover. It's the pain that really inspires us to see the beauty we no longer have before us.

    I wish I could comment on your summer songs. Alas, my speakers are in storage. (Darn temporary housing...)

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    1. I watched a PBS documentary about Shakespeare that focused intently on his life and how it influenced his writing. Really great show. Learned a lot about him that I never knew.

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  34. I love all the controversy and mystery surrounding Shakespeare. My fave summer song is "Cruel Summer." (Karate Kid-'84) Evokes such wonderful memories growing up in the 80's.

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    1. I almost went with Cruel Summer too. That's the problem with these blog hops. There's so many choices! And then we have to narrow it down to five. Hmph.

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  35. I've never considered the sonnet from that angle before but it makes complete sense. Thanks for stopping by The Tiki Hut.

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    1. Sadly it does make more sense that way. And cool post on ciphers over at the Tiki Hut. :)

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  36. Great post! Thanks for the Shakespeare, too. It's a breath of fresh air.

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  37. Congrats on the award. It's well deserved.

    I have to admit, the poem was a bit deep for me =P

    Seasons have a way of reminding us those ever changing seasons in our life. Somethings they bring great joy. Other times they dredge up deep sorrow.

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  38. Great choices - including the sonnet! Love Paul Weller :-)

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  39. Hi Luanna .. I'd no idea either about Shakespeare's sonnet perhaps being for his son .. but it is a wonderful poem ... then your music ... lovely choices for a hot summer's day .. cheers Hilary

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