The Summer Mix

For the third summer in a row, I’ve made a compilation of summer songs. In 2005, the mix was called “dancing ‘round the kitchen” because that’s what we did every night: I cooked and my daughter and husband danced. Last year, when the baby was a newborn, the album was “our HUGE family” since we were all reeling with the discovery of what it meant to go from three to four.

This summer, it’s a survivor’s mix, Shady Shores, in honor of a summer that wasn’t quite as summery as we had hoped. (It’s also the name of the lane that my grandmother-in-law’s cabin sits on.) But again, as with each prior year, the songs themselves come to transform our memories, and what seems sometimes stressful and confusing in the midst of it, gets colored by the happy memories of the songs we associate with the year.

This year’s mix has two songs by our favorite group, Pink Martini, and two songs by Lucinda Williams, whom we saw in Utica at the Saranac Brewery. The opening song on the new Pink Martini album, “Everywhere,” is so sweetly sentimental, sung with such purity by China Forbes that the older girl immediately fell in love with it. That had to go on the album. As, in honor of her current obsession with “The Wizard of Oz” did Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s very odd & wonderful version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Overall, we think it’s the best of the three: it really does seem to make all four of us happy and it’s in heavy rotation on iHome, iPod, iPhone (!!!), and in the car.

I always aim for a current summer hit or two: two years ago, it was “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and last year it was Gnarls Barkley. This year, after driving around Seattle listening to “The Mountain” for two weeks, I chose two: that Delilah song (cheesy but sweet—and it also has the requisite NYC reference which is another piece of the equation) and “Calling All Friends.”

But the track that’s been the funniest and most controversial is #14: at my husband’s request, “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones.

Daughter #1: “Mama, what’s a devil? Mama, what’s sympathy? Mama, who were the Kennedy’s? Mama, why did we kill the Kennedy’s? Mama, is he a devil or is he just pretending to be one in the song?”

Daughter #2, pitch-perfect to Mick Jagger: “whoo-oo, whoo-oo.”

Herewith, then, the list:
  1. Everywhere --Pink Martini
  2. Lookin' Out My Back Door-- Creedence Clearwater Revival
  3. Hey There Delilah-- Plain White T's
  4. Righteously-- Lucinda Williams
  5. Don't Look Back-- Peter Tosh
  6. Al Otro Lado del Rio-- Jorge Drexler
  7. Peg-- Steely Dan
  8. La P'tite Monnaie-- Benabar & Associes
  9. Surfin' USA-- The Beach Boys
  10. Cante e Dance-- Pink Martini
  11. Coney Island-- Death Cab for Cutie
  12. Somewhere Over the Rainbow-- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
  13. Pata Pata (Album Version)-- Miriam Makeba
  14. Sympathy for the Devil-- The Rolling Stones
  15. Upside Down-- Jack Johnson
  16. Wasn't Born to Follow-- The Byrds
  17. Mama You Sweet-- Lucinda Williams
  18. Cinnamon Girl-- Neil Young & Crazy Horse
  19. Calling All Friends-- Low Stars
  20. Saratoga Hunch-- Dave Frishberg