♫ Summer In The City ♫

Officially, summer is winding down, but the reality is that it’s as hot and humid today as it was a month, two months ago.  Still, eventually it will go away, to be replaced by cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and ultimately s-n-o-w.  At any rate, I thought it appropriate to play a nice summery song while it still fit.

The song was a collaboration between John Sebastian, The Lovin Spoonful’s bassist Steve Boone, and the frontman’s brother (and non-group member) Mark Sebastian. Mark was 15 years old when he wrote a poem that John used as the basis for the song – John especially liked the part that went, “But at night there’s a different world.”

Says John …

“That song that came from an idea my brother Mike had. He had this great chorus, and the release was so big. I had to create some kind of tension at the front end to make it even bigger. That’s where that jagged piano part comes from.”

Boone came up with the middle eight, which John thought sounded like the Gershwin composition “An American in Paris,” where the orchestra implies the sound of traffic and city noises. This gave him the idea of incorporating car horns and other city ambiance into the track.

The band was rather particular about the traffic sounds. Instead of just using what was available on the sound effects records in the studio, they found an old-school radio engineer – a guy who used to create the soundscapes for shows, so if a guy was riding a horse, you’d hear the hooves hitting the ground and the wind whistling by. This guy, whom John Sebastian referred to as a “hilarious old Jewish sound man,” came in with a huge library of street sounds, which the band went through for hours. They wanted the scene to build, so it starts softly (the horn at the beginning comes from a Volkswagen Beetle), and grows to a gridlock nightmare. To close the scene, they used a pneumatic hammer pounding away at the pavement.

This song hit #1 in the U.S. and Canada, and #8 in the UK which is really rather odd, when you consider that in the UK they don’t even know what summer is!

Summer in the City
The Lovin’ Spoonful

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

But at night it’s a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it’ll be alright

And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity
That the days can’t be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city

Cool town, evening in the city
Dressing so fine and looking so pretty
Cool cat, looking for a kitty
Gonna look in every corner of the city
Till I’m wheezing like a bus stop
Running up the stairs, gonna meet you on the rooftop

But at night it’s a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it’ll be alright

And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity
That the days can’t be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city

All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head

But at night it’s a different world
Go out and find a girl
Come-on come-on and dance all night
Despite the heat it’ll be alright

And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity
That the days can’t be like the nights
In the summer, in the city
In the summer, in the city

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Sebastian / Mark Sebastian / Steve Boone
Summer in the City lyrics © Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, BMG Rights Management, Carlin America Inc

34 thoughts on “♫ Summer In The City ♫

  1. This is my third try to publish a comment. Hope I don’t have to try a fourth,

    I luved The Luvin’ Spoonful. They were one of my favourite North American 60s bands, helped on by Zal Yanovsky, lead guitarist and sometimes singer, being Canadian. Their string of 14 or so hits from 65 to 67 was incredible. Jug Band Music was by far my favourite, but the others were close behind.
    Then tragedy struck.
    After 54 years only the people involved know the truth, and the key player (not as in keyboard player, they didn’t have one) Zal Yanovsky is now dead. The cops aren’t talking, even after all these years. The story went that Zal was arrested for marijuana possession in 1967, was threatened with deportation after a max 14 years prison sentence (suddenly being a Canadian was not a good thing, deportation was a lifetime ban from the USA in those days)–American pot-smoking hippie musicians had it bad enough in front of rock n roll-hating judges, for a Canadian pot-smoking long-haired hippie musician in L.A., he might as well have been a child-molesting rapist murdering member of the post-Sharon-Tate Charles Manson family who were still two years away from their rampage. Yanovsky was looking at a possible long-future in earthly hell. He panicked and gave up his supplier, according to the said supplier who sold his story to anyone who would pay him and listen. What happened was worthy of a 2017 Facebook shaming scandal. The band was villifed, and disappeared from the face of the world. I do not condome what Zal did, but knowing police tactics back then, not dissimilar ro today, he was screwed from the outset. They held the the power, and he caved in.
    This was one of the first signs that the hippie generation was doomed. It ended at Altamont Freeway Free Concert December 6, 1969. Please pardon me this statement, the execution took place at the Kent State Massacre on May 4th,1970.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the additional info on Zal Yanovsky … I looked him up on Wikipedia, but they failed to mention any of what you just told me. Not surprising, is it? ‘Twas a sad ending for a fine band. Wiki did say he opened several restaurants, which his daughter, Zoe, took over after his death, plus his music is still being played today, so his legacy lives on, yes? More than most of us will likely be able to say.

      Like

  2. Pingback: ♫ Summer In The City ♫ | The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

  3. Jill, I wrote last year that we got a chance to see John Sebastian in a terrific venue, an old church converted into a theater. The church had two floors of seating and some to the side of the stage. He was very effusive about his and Lovin’ Spoonful’s history and how songs came about. It was truly a joy. He was by himself, so some songs he apologized for, but there was no need. It was a very entertaining evening. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

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