Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Summer Wine Redux

Over two years ago, I published a short cultural/opinion article about a record album. Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood had created (in 1968) an album titled "Nancy and Lee", which included a song titled "Summer Wine".

I made the point that this gentle song had resonated for me, because I thought it was not only decent music and mediocre poetry, but was emotionally satisfying. No, I didn't say it like that. I just said I liked it because it brought to mind the nirvana of the 60's:

Isn't it funny how a song will stay in your mind for decades, and hop onto your tongue for no good reason at all?

Since that date (2005), I have noted a surprising number of 'hits' on my statscounter for this article, as people seem to Google the song title on a weekly basis. This was vaguely interesting, but not particularly significant, until last week when I received a surprising email from a woman in the UK named Ilanna.

She said she found my ode to "Summer Wine" and wanted to know more about my personal impressions. Specifically, she wanted to know whether the song was commonly played at "high school proms in 1968 - 1969".

I replied, thanking her for her interest, but admitted that I couldn't answer her question because during that period I was a College student and had no information about High School Proms.

In subsequent correspondence, she questioned whether the song "Summer Wine" might have had a provocative influence on both The Manson Family murders and the Zodiac Killer murders.

My response was that I could see absolutely not basis for making such a connection, although the timing (1968) was coincidental I also mentioned that the Mansons scrawled "Helter Skelter"
(released on The Beatles White Album, Disc #2, song #6) in blood on the walls of the Sharon Tate home. Implied was the question why they didn't scrawl "Summer Wine". God knows they had enough blood to work with!

Most resently, the correspondent replied with an apology for suggesting a connection, mentioning a (deceased) relative who had some connection .. not clearly established .. with one or the other massacre event.

I don't pretend to understand the thought processes of my correspondents, I only mention it here to illustrate the startling twists such exchanges can elicit however unintended the connections and inferences may have been originally.

As a curious 'unintended consequence', this exchange rekindled my interest in the album. I discovered that the original "Nancy and Lee" was no longer available for blood nor money (apologies for the implied relationship) but the album had been more-or-less re-released under a new title: "Nancy and Lee, Fairy Tales and Fantasies".

Apparently there is a hunger for the original album, and some doubt whether the re-release is true to the original. This seems to center on two points:
  1. Whether all of the songs on the re-release were those which were available from the original "Nancy And Lee" album; and
  2. Whether the re-release presented them in the same sequence as the original.
Although I cannot find my (Columbia Record Club) original album, I did take the opportunity to buy the download of the re-release. Judging only by my memory, I didn't remember the songs until I listened to the MP3 download version. They seem to be the same songs, and they 'seem' to be presented in the same order.

With one perhaps insignificant difference:

The 8th song, "Some Velvet Morning", was originally released under the title "Phaedra".

I know this intuitively as certainly as I know my own name, which is "Jerry the Geek" to you, but which is ... something else, according to my mother.

Curiously, as I listen to these "Nancy and Lee" songs again, I find that the song which plagues me during my morning showers is not as often "Summer Wine" as it is "Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman". This is perhaps due to my own personal psychological imbalances, as I also find that my most-often-sung-in-the-shower QUEEN song is "Bicycle Race".

Most people cannot abide that song. Yet I find it difficult to get out of my head.

Go figure.

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