Last summer, Rob ran a wonderful weekly summer series on My Side Of The Laundry Room called “F.N.V.” Inspired by NBC’s Friday Night Videos (which began airing in 1983, showcasing the ever-growing world of music videos at the dawn of the era) Rob would kick off everyone’s weekend with a rockin’ and rollickin’ assortment of ‘80s greatness. I loved the series! I loved it so much I asked if he was planning on running it again this year…with hopes of totally stealing it if he wasn’t. Fortune was with me as Rob’s plenty busy with the three YouTube shows he’s doing each week. He graciously said I could take over as F.N.V.’s new DJ. YES. I figured this would be the perfect day to start as my summer vacation begins today! Woo hoo! So, without further ado, let’s rock.
Rob inaugurated his series by writing, “In honor of those awesome Friday nights of the ’80s and the start of the summer season I wanted to showcase a few videos of my own. Well, not MY own but some of the music and videos I love from the decade that I love, the ’80s. Throughout the summer months of May through September I will devote Fridays to the music of the 1980s. Every Friday I will have a few videos as well as some of my usual anecdotes and life stories.” I loved the series so I’m planning on doing the exact same thing. It won’t be expressly ‘80s, I don’t think. But, just like Rob did, I’ll have a fun theme each week and I’ll certainly throw in some stories too. I mean, this is me were talking about. I do like to chat ;).
With summer and all its freedom beginning to bloom around me, there’s only one song that can appropriately capture the joy and freedom I’m feeling right now. So that’s where we have to start!
Bruce Springsteen – “No Surrender” – 1984
I can’t start a summer vacation with any other song than “No Surrender.” A track off Bruce Springsteen’s iconic 1984 Born In The U.S.A. album, this is the type of tune that’s made for rolling the windows down, turning the radio up, and rocking out – all hallmarks of a great summer day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve ridden around with the wind in my hair belting out this song at the top of my lungs. Let me tell you, you certainly get some interesting looks when you’re doing it at red lights too. While it wasn’t released as a single (hence the live version above and not a vintage ‘80s video), it’s always been one of my favorite Springsteen songs. And how else do you start summer than by proclaiming, “We busted outta class / We had to get away from those fools / We learned more from a three-minute record baby, then we ever learned in school”?
John Travolta and Olivia Newton John – “Summer Nights” – 1978
I can’t think of summer without thinking of Grease’s ode to summer romance either. It’s so classic! And who doesn’t love Grease and/or summer romances? I’ve also read a few articles that proclaim this to be the greatest karaoke song ever. While I have done this song in karaoke on more than one occasion, it’s not in my personal collection of karaoke greatest hits. Just what is in that list is the story for another F.N.V. though. My favorite karaoke songs will be coming later in the summer :). Still, it seemed sacrilegious to start off summer vacation without talking about those suuh-uuuuu-uummer niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiights. So here we go!
The Go-Go’s – “Vacation” – 1982
As a teacher, summer vacation is one of the best parts of the job, so this song is a prerequisite. I know a lot of people like to harass teachers that we have an easy gig, with summers and holidays off. But I guarantee if you add up all the time I spend grading and lesson planning outside of work during the school year and average it out over the whole year, I’m still clocking in at waaaaaaaay over forty hours a week. BUT the beautiful balance is the couple months I get to spend in the summer pretending I have a wealthy benefactor (not super wealthy but like, he gives me enough to get by you know?) who sends me checks in the summer. This tribute to vacation (and…you know…heartbreak but I’m focusing on the chorus here) has to be on the list. Bonus! I was born in 1982. Thanks Go-Go’s for marking the year I was born with such a brilliant song.
John Waite – “Missing You” – 1984
This always makes me think of summer too. On the last day of class I like to tell my students this song is the perfect way to capture how I’ll feel about not seeing them all summer long. Yep, John Waite gets it – “I ain’t missin’ you at all / since you been gone away / I ain’t missin’ you / No matter what my friends say.” Then the kids say, “Mr. Miller! That’s mean!” Then I tell them to let me feel my feelings until, inevitably, some student points out John Waite really does miss this girl so the kids then all see it as a testament to how much I will miss them. It could be that…or it could be the more literal interpretation as well :).
Jimmy Buffett – “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” – 1973
When I asked Kalie what immediately comes to mind with summer music, she said Jimmy Buffett. And I thought, she’s right! Of all the Buffett songs I could have chosen, I had to go with 1973’s “Why Don’t We Get Drunk.” This song will always make me smile because it reminds me of a family vacation we took to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico back in 2007. I was sitting around the pool with David, two English girls we met on the vacation, and one of the resort staff who, among other things, taught us conversational Spanish. This song came on and, after listening to the lyrics for a few moments, she asked, “Is he saying what I think he’s saying?? Am I understanding that correctly?” I said yes and then reflected on the irony of her teaching me about her language and culture and my teaching her about screwing on a water bed. Ahh life, you’re funny sometimes.
Jack Johnson – “Better Together” – 2005
You can’t really have summer without Jack Johnson can you? I just adore him. Of all the perfect, chill, breezy, summer songs I could’ve chosen, I picked “Better Together.” It’s such a beautiful song and we can all stand to be reminded of its simple, important wisdom from time to time too – “Love is the answer at least for most of the questions in my heart / Like ‘Why are we here?’ and ‘Where do we go?’ and ‘How come it’s so hard?’” Love is the answer. Amen Jack!
Alice Cooper – “School’s Out” – 1972
Just as I had to start with Springsteen, I have to end with Alice Cooper. I’ve never been a huge Alice Cooper fan but the title track to his 1972 album will always be special to me because, after we ring the bell to dismiss the kids for summer vacation every year, they play this over the P.A. Ahhhh, tradition. I love it! (Also, okay, I get this is another live track. I’m not doing a great job with the video part of my first Friday Night Videos but I’m trying okay??)
Well this brings my first F.N.V. show to a close! I hope this didn’t read like a disjointed, stream-of-consciousness narrative mess or anything. I’ve been buried under a pile of final exam grading for weeks now and this was the most creative I could be. But I hope you enjoyed the tunes all the same! You can look forward to stopping back each week this summer as I’ll be spinnin’ the records (um…does that phrase still work when you’re linking YouTube videos?) to keep you rockin’. I’ll even be featuring some guest DJs too! Also, if you have any great summer vacation songs you’d like to share, let me know. I’m always up for making a larger mix tape.
Oh sweet, sweet summer vacation…how I’ve missed you!
Also, be sure to check out My Side Of The Laundry Room for the posts that gave me a F.N.V. series to steal last year as well as (in Rob’s words), “a nostalgic look back at toys, cartoons, comic books, and other ill shit” PLUS (back in my words) some of my favorite YouTube shows on the interweb.