THE INTERNET MONK SATURDAY BRUNCH
”It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
Today around the Brunch table, I’d like to have a discussion about the good ol’ summertime. Though I’m more of an autumn aficionado, summer carries pleasures that are wondrous and fair. And today, I’d like to ask us to participate in a conversation about some of our favorite summer pleasures. At the end, I’ve posted some summer music for your enjoyment.
So, let’s begin. Going around the table, share your own personal answers to these questions or to others that come to mind, if you like.
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SUMMER FOOD AND DRINK
What foods do you especially enjoy in the summer months? Do you have some favorite recipes or ways of preparing those foods that you’d like to pass along? Charcoal grill or gas? In your part of the world, what’s coming out of your gardens and showing up at your farm stands these days that you can’t resist?
Also, do you have some special drinks that you enjoy in the summer? How do you fix your iced tea? Lemonade? Do you have favorite summer beers, wines, cocktails?
Does your church or other churches in your area hold any special meals for the congregation and/or community? What’s the hottest item at the potluck?
Baseball fans: who’s got the best ballpark food and fare?
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What kinds of things do you like to do in the summertime that you normally don’t do other times of the year? What do you enjoy doing with your family? your friends? by yourself?
Does your community hold any special summer events that you like to participate in? Is the place where you live a good place for walking? biking? Do you have well tended parks people enjoy in the summer? Do you have access to outdoor concerts? art fairs? county or state fairs?
Do you have a front porch? a deck? Do you make good use of them in the summer? How?
Any special hobbies or avocations you give special attention to in the summertime?
Does your church or another local ministry have special summer activities, service projects, mission trips, or other activities in which you like to participate?
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Do you make a “summer reading” list? What kinds of books do you like to read in the summer?
If you made a list this year, what are some of the books on it? How are you progressing?
Can you give us a quick summary of something you’re reading this summer (doesn’t have to be a book) that has been satisfying and enjoyable to you?
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In many places, summer is the season for travels and vacations. What was your most memorable summer vacation?
Are you going on any trips this summer? If so, tell us about them.
Do you have some favorite places that you return to time and again? Mountains, woods, or beach? Famous landmarks or out of the way places? City or country? Any good state parks or recreation areas in your neck of the woods that you enjoy in the summer?
Are you a camper? Tent, pop-up, or full-scale RV? Or is your idea of camping a nice hotel room with a view of the woods and the lake?
Do you like to drive when you take these trips? Fly? Train? Boat? Bus? Do you enjoy cruising? Where have you been and where would you like to go?
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What music says “summertime” to you? Are there particular artists, albums, songs, or works that complement the summer spirit in your heart?
What’s on your playlist this summer? Anything new that you are enjoying this summer?
Below, I present some of my favorite summer music from the classical, jazz, and pop genres. I hope you will enjoy them and experience a bit of whatever “summer” means to you in listening to them.
Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Mozart
I enjoy light and carefree classics in the summer. Summer to me is Mozart and Vivaldi, serenades and dances, pops concerts, water music and fireworks. Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik is a serenade, which means it was written to be played outdoors at times in parks and public gathering places. This piece is so popular and well known that I thought I’d put up a specialized example of it. Here is a delightful guitar version of the allegro movement by Amicus Trio:
Summer music in America is not complete without Aaron Copland. Here is “Saturday Night Waltz,” one of four Dance Episodes from Rodeo. This is quintessential summer in the American West.
Une barque sur l’ocean, Ravel
Finally, here is a perfect piano piece by Ravel for relaxing on a starlit evening, overlooking ocean waves at the shore.
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Summertime (Gershwin), Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald
One of the most covered songs in history is Gershwin’s Summertime. For you today, we can’t do much better than the rendition by this duo that pretty much defined jazz and popular music in the 20th century for many people.
The Girl from Ipanema, Getz/Gilbero
This familiar beach song is from one of the most notable jazz albums in my lifetime. The album won the 1965 Grammy Awards for Best Album of the Year, Best Jazz Instrumental Album – Individual or Group, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. This was the first time a jazz album received Album of the Year, and it was the only one to win the award until 2008. This song, “The Girl from Ipanema,” also won the award for Record of the Year in 1965. This was the sound of summer when I was growing up.
Stella by Starlight, Miles Davis
Summer is also the time for steamy, starlight nights, and who better to catch that vibe than Miles Davis and the musicians who would produce what many consider the greatest jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue. “Stella by Starlight” is included on some of the later editions of that record. One jazz publication placed this song in the top ten jazz standards of all time.
Beat 70, Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny is my favorite contemporary jazz musician. And much of his music, with its Brazilian influences, exudes summertime freedom and joy. Here is one of those songs, “Beat 70,” from the album, “Letter from Home.”
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SUMMERY POP SOUNDS:
Goodbye Soleil, Phoenix
I’m not going to begin to roll out all the pop music that is suitable for summer. I mean, just start with the Beach Boys and go from there, right? So, instead, I’ll give you my pick for this year’s best summer album. It’s by the French band Phoenix, and it’s called “Ti Amo.” Here’s the Rolling Stone review.
The band’s press release said of this record that it represents “our European, Latin roots, a fantasized version of Italy”, and that the songs focus on “simple, pure emotions: love, desire, lust, and innocence”. Guitarist Laurent Brancowitz commented that the album recalls “summer and Italian discos.” Shimmering synth sounds, airy melodies, and infectious, happy beats make this the perfect summer album when riding down the road, wind in your hair.
Here is Phoenix’s video for the song, “Goodbye Soleil,” which captures perfectly the playfulness of a European holiday at the shore.