Memories

WHEN YOU THINK of music and summer together, what do you remember the most? Everybody's got a tale to tell about that certain song, or band, or summer experience that still resonates years later. Here are a few we stumbled across.

I was 18 years old, working as a waitress at Jolly Roger's Flying Dutchman Supper Club--we just called it the Dutchman--on Shingobee Island near Walker, Minnesota. It's a little resort town about 60 miles north of Brainerd. My friend, Michelle, and I would get off at midnight and meet our friends, Wayne and Kelly. We'd go to the wayside rest and dunk our feet in the channel and drink beer. These guys would always play this song, "Catholic Girls" by Frank Zappa, because we were Catholic and they knew they could get a rise out of us. They were in a band--the name of it was Ramona Fritz, they might still be playing. This was when we were cruising around listening to Pablo Cruise and the soundtrack from Grease; so for somebody to come up with "Catholic Girls," they brought the outside world to us. I had to drive 40, 45 miles to the nearest record store and buy that album. That same summer, the big hit song was "I Love A Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbit. Do you know he sings "I love a rainy night" 27 times in that song--we counted. That's the sort of thing you do when you're 18 years old in Walker, Minnesota.

--Helen Harbo, voice talent

I'm going to say Judas Priest's version of Joan Baez's "Diamond In The Rough" and being about the age of 15, right at the end of the school year. God, of all those heavy metal classics, that's the one that comes to mind. I'm stumbling up the hillside with a beer in my hand, somebody's crankin' the Priest on the east side of St. Paul at night. That song is a Joan Baez standard. Jesus.

--John Kass, runs Prospective Records

Music hasn't meant as much to me since the early '80's. We used to live in Big Falls, a small little hick town up north. We probably would have been better off on a reservation. We were desperately poor; there were eight of us and my mother died when I was young; my father, who was white, was alcoholic and disabled. We never had a car or anything. There were only two radio stations, one out of Canada and WLS in Chicago, which came on after dark. It sounded very urban; they were giving away tremendous prizes like cars and trips to Disneyland. The music they played was our only connection to anything civilized. It was more than an escape, it was a lifeline.

In the summer, we used to swim all day and smoke a lot of dope. My friend Stanley had a newspaper route so he had enough to buy a bag. We'd go into this abandoned old mechanic shop across from the laundromat and kitty corner from the church and get high. We lived about a mile out of town and I'd stumble home, go upstairs and put on a Fleetwood Mac tape. Stevie Nicks had just joined the group and there was this bubblegum kind of flavor to the music that I like but it was just cool enough that my brothers would let me listen to it. Listening to it was personal; I enjoyed it the most by myself, the room was kind of a sanctuary. Those were some of my best memories. I'd come home from swimming and smoking dope and pass out on the bed listening to "Monday Morning." I'd wake up and back then if you didn't turn off the tape recorder the tape would still be running, clicking in the machine.

--Mark Rollo, writer

My name's Warren and I grew up on a farm. The song that reminds me of summer is the old Iggy Pop song "Dirt," since I used to have to go work in the fields and stuff. But now I'm living here; I'm a declared schizophrenic. The song goes, "I feel like dirt." Yeah.

--Warren, interviewed outside the
downtown Minneapolis Public Library

It was the summer of 1970 and I was bummed because I'd missed Woodstock--and everything that went along with it--because of my advanced age, 30. So I decided to have a "hippie party," with black lights, posters, and acid rock. I asked my brother, a "true hippie," to provide the music. When I asked him to play my one request, "In The Year 2525," he all but retched, but included it in his playlist anyway.

The evening was terribly hot, and indoors the black lights were highlighting everyone's underwear through their sheer summer clothes, so everyone migrated outdoors. We sat on the lawn listening to music and sharing memories, and I heard my song all night long. Whenever I hear "2525," I think of the hot summer party.

--Wally Norlander, banker

"Surfer Girl" by the Beach Boys was the first time I can remember thinking about girls and having any kind of sexuality. What would I have called it then? Being sweet on girls? It was pure Wisconsin summer--trees, water, bugs, Bible camp. I was 9 years old and out somewhere in Wisconsin at Bible camp. I was ready for love. I remember vividly, memorizing the words to "Surfer Girl" because I was going to stand outside a girl's cabin and sing "Surfer Girl" to her, and we would fall in love. I could see it so clearly, pine trees, standing outside the cabin, her swooning inside. Holding hands, being in love. Unfortunately, it never happened. That summer still comes back to me clearly.

--Chris Knott, doorman at the Uptown Bar, ex-lead singer of the Spectors

My favorite song of the summer is by Harry Nilsson and I think it's called "Put The Lime In The Coconut." When I was a kid just going into middle school, there were these three sets of identical twins who moved into our neighborhood. Three sets! And we all used to go out into the woods together and play these games. The woods later became the Minnesota Zoological Gardens. We used to play these games of blackjack and things like that. Things got very loose, a lot of skin was shed and at one point I remember these identical sets of twins were dancing around this really large oak tree, like May pole style, and us boys were putting our clothes back on and they were just dancing stark naked to this song "Put The Lime In The Coconut." Christ. When I hear that song I get instant X-rated memories of those nights.

--Tom Sieler, character artist/portrait maker at the Mall of America

It was June 1984, five months before The Replacements released Let It Be. The boys were doing a then-frequent local performance in the hot and sweaty Cabooze. Bob Stinson wore a cowboy hat and pink overalls and no shirt. Following a killer, slowed-down country version of "God Damn Job," Bob undid the buttons on his overall straps until they fell down his back. As Chris Mars slammed the band straight into "Black Diamond," I turned to a friend and said, "Westerberg's gonna yank down Bob's pants." And he did...leaving Bob with pink overalls around his ankles and nothing on underneath. Bob's solo went on perfectly; he didn't even flinch, keeping that Gibson just in the right place. Tommy and Paul wailed like schoolkids and we all laughed until we were out of breath. What a band.

--Scott Holter, copywriter

So it was the summer I was 14 and I was caddying at this ritzy country club with all these golfer guys who let their hair down by telling obnoxious jokes and throwing clubs whenever they missed a shot. One day I had to duck a club from this schmucky guy and he wanted me to go get it and return it to him. I just put down his clubs and walked off. I didn't tell my mother because I felt like if she knew I'd quit my job she'd feel like it was bad for my moral growth and she'd stop my allowance.

It was also the summer of my first real girlfriend and I used to sneak out of the house every night and skate over to her place. Either we'd hang out or go with our friends to the Coca-Cola bottling plant. If you watched them closely going back and forth you could time it so you could steal a six-pack and when you are 14 living on an allowance, a six-pack of Coke is like a gold mine.

I'd stay out every night until 5 o'clock in the morning, come home and sleep for half an hour, or not at all, until my Mom's alarm went off and she'd come in to hassle me and wake me up so I could go caddy. And I was angry and confused generally, because I was 14 but I was really tired and angry at 5:30 in the morning and we'd get in these giant fights. I'd put on my Walkman and blare the Descendants' "Parents": "Parents! Why won't they shut up/Parents! They're so fucked up/They treat me like a toy/They don't know I'm a boy/Little do they know/Some day I'll explode." I'd skate off and sit in a dark park and wait five hours or so for my friends to wake up. It was like fighting with my mom grounded the whole summer, which was overwhelming and weird but also extremely fun. I spent the whole summer pissed off and confused but I had a great time.

--Tad Keyes, copier

It was one of the last few days of school in New Brighton and I'm walking home with Holly Nelson, who had the skinniest rib cage I'd ever seen, a turned-up nose and long, honey brown hair. We were like 12 or 13, sixth grade probably, wearing boys' tennis shoes that we'd written all over with markers: peace, love, hearts. There was all this construction going on because New Brighton was becoming a suburb and we're walking through all these large holes for basements and Holly is cool, this cool girl, and we come upon this huge hole in the earth before any cement blocks are in and we walk around it, and eventually we jump in and we can't get back out again and the shadows are getting longer and it is getting cooler and we are supposed to be home for supper. It is scary but secretly we like it. And the song is out on the radio that goes, "Timothy, Timothy, where did you go, lost in a mine." I think it was by The Boys; I just heard it on KOOL 108. And the thing is, they ate Timothy; although they don't actually say it. And who is going to eat who here, and Holly is very into teenage death. After a long struggle we finally got out of there.

--Heidi Arneson,
playwright and performance artist

I've got a really sad summer story because last summer my boyfriend broke up with me really really bad because he's crap. And this song "Legs" was playing, you know, that ZZ Top song which really sucks. He used to dis me because I've got short, fat, squat legs and that was like a big issue with him. I see him at the Uptown Bar with this leggy blonde, she's just a bitch from hell, dumb as a box basically, and so that song really sucks for me. On the other hand, a couple of months ago that song was playing and this guy bought me and the whole bar a round of drinks. It was kind of fun so I've kind of got bittersweet memories about the song "Legs" by ZZ Top.

--Elizabeth Duncan,
patron 617 Bar, northeast Minneapolis

The standout memory for me was last summer at First Avenue; I was doing monitors for Radiohead and it was an all-ages show. It was a teen angst anthem, "Black Star," I think. It was very hot and everyone was very sweaty. And right down in front of the stage, this one gal folded her arms around a guy and he folded his arms around her and these big tears came rolling out of her eyes. I swear to god they almost lifted up into the crowd it was so transcendent, a great rock & roll moment. It was so pure--pure teen summer love--the kind you drive around in a car and think about for the rest of your life.

--Barry Haney,
sound/production person and
drummer for the Shivers

I have a black '64 Plymouth Valiant convertible. You can get about six people in it and it's got a really nice radio, you can be going like 60 miles an hour and still hear it perfectly cruising up and down East River Road or around the lakes. "The Grange" by ZZ Top is my summer song, but I'm most excited this summer about hearing anything by the Jon Spenser Blues Explosion because it's teenage sexuality that just goes with summer. The Valiant's only got an AM radio so I listen to Radio K and the swing station, KLBB, or 950 [Solid Gold Soul]. The drive-ins are the best destination--the Valley Hi is a cool one--or going to Hidden Beach late at night. I don't understand why they don't make radios like this anymore. It's a punchbutton radio and the car is a punchbutton automatic too, so to switch gears is the same thing as switching radio stations; it's really bizarre. I store it all winter and I just pine for it. I break it out as soon as the snow stops. It's out Memorial Day to Halloween. I drive down the road and all these leaves comes flying out.

--Jim Musil,
founder, former DJ at Radio K

I was about 14 with my friend Carol Cunnington and we were living in southeast Minneapolis, like 15th and Sheridan, and we stole every type of liquor from our parents' liquor cabinet, went up to the gas station and stole some cigarettes, smoked 'em all, got home and she puked all over my room. We started burning incense and my dad walked in; there's like piles of puke with clothes on top of it and we're singing and dancing to the song "Superfreak" and all he said was "please turn down the music."

--Karen Gillespie, massage therapist

Interviews by Mary Ellen Egan, Amanda Ferguson, Pete Hilgendorf, Dara Moskowitz, and Britt Robson. CP

The music of your high school years is the music of your life. I graduated from high school in Kenyon, Minnesota, in 1945, shortly after the war in Europe ended. Back in those days, all you ever heard on the radio was big band music. There was a club in New York called The Twenty One. And it just happened that there were 21 steps from the street up to the second floor of this place in Kenyon, so we called it Club 21. There was a juke box, a little barbie under the refrigerator, and we used to make hot dogs and buns. There was always a couple of sets of parents that would be chaperones.

"The Jersey Bounce," "In The Mood," "The Boogie Woogie Blues," a lot of them were jive dances that came out of that era. They came every every few weeks and changed the records; they got played so much, they probably weren't worth much. When we did the boogie woogie dances, every once in a while the druggist from downstairs would come up yelling, "Knock it off! The bottles are coming off my shelves down there!"

Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola were a nickel. Pepsi came in bigger bottles. The slogan went, "Pepsi Cola is the one for you, twice as much for your nickel too." We felt very lucky if we had enough to get a couple of bottles of pop for the evening, or a hot dog for a dime. There was a back entrance, required by fire ordinance, a staircase that went down behind the building with sort of a landing out there, and if it was really hot you could go out there and get cool enough to go back in and do your boogie woogie another time. When you're in high school, you're really hopping for the music, the juices are flowing. I assume it's still that way.

--Chuck Lindholm, retired

In the summer of either '85 or '86, I was trying to get my high school buddies to be in a band with me so we could take the world by storm. Meanwhile, I was working in the kitchen at Eddington's downtown, hanging my ass over 50 gallons of soup. It was usually about 120 degrees and I was dressed from head to toe in polyester for this job. After work, on my way home to St. Louis Park, I'd ride my bike through Kenwood to see Will, the reluctant lead guitarist who was going to be the lynchpin for this awesome band. So almost every day I'd be sitting on his porch trying to talk him into this thing, and, let me tell you, I just reeked. I was really into this au naturel thing at the time--no underwear, no deodorant--and I reeked of the heat and this Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Soup. I could tell he hated to smell me and his Mom hated to smell me. But there I'd be, trying to get him into this band. And back then, Will had a penchant for [Hüsker Dü's] Land Speed Record and early Dinosaur Jr. and the Minutemen, and I hated that music; hated it then and I hate it now. And that's what I'd be listening to as I sat on that porch reeking of soup. Maybe that's why to this day I hate Bob Mould's music.

--Willie Wisely, musician

Oh, I can think of so many things! Sly and the Family Stone first, because there was this little tri-county fair in the arena parking lot in Duluth. I'd go down with my high school sweetheart. They had a zipper and a Ferris wheel and they always played Sly and the Family Stone's greatest hits, "Hot Fun" of course, but also "Sing A Simple Song" and "Stand."

And then as a little kid, our backyard was the softball field and I remember leading the neighborhood kids in the Twins' theme: "We're gonna win Twins, we're gonna score." I had a baseball with Bob Allison's autograph, and I had this big crush on Tony Oliva. He was from Cuba and the media had taught me that Cuba was like the evil Thrush in Man From U.N.C.L.E. and I thought it was so cool that we rescued him from Cuba. I wanted to be drafted by U.N.C.L.E. to go down and get Tony's family out of Cuba. I wanted to matter to Tony Oliva.

--Leslie Ball,
singer and performer

It was the summer after I graduated from college, in Richmond, Virginia. I was a DJ at the college radio station and we had gotten an advance copy of "Summer Babe" by Pavement. I played it on the radio constantly. It was hot, every day. We'd play the song in the car on the way to a [swimming] quarry, an old gravel pit where they broke through to an underground spring. There's always an air of danger to it. First, there's the rumor that there's heavy machinery down at the bottom, from when the diggers broke through and had to scramble out and abandon the pit. And it's on private land, so you could always be caught for trespassing or something. There's no beach to loll around on; you're either in the water or climbing up rocks to jump in the water. The water is cold, clear, isolated, and beautiful. In the South, they deal with summer a whole different way; everything's slowed down. I'd have to say I'd trade about 2,000 lakes for a couple of good quarries.

--Matt Bakkom,
guard of Minneapolis Institute of the Arts,
film programmer at Red Eye

The name of the song is "The Time Is Right To Get On Your Motor Bike and Ride Ride Ride." It is by a friend of mine, Sam. That song always gets me going about summer because we both had motorcycles at the time, and we were sittin' and chromin'--you know what chroming is, right? You paint up your rusty spots and polish the chrome and the other stuff, and we both had these beater motorbikes and we were chroming that first couple of months of that summer and then all of a sudden I was in a band with him; or actually he was in a band with himself; other people were in a band with him, but not me, that was later. But anyway, all of sudden he came out with this song called "The Time Is Right To Get On Your Motorbike and Ride." And that song was perfect for chroming.

--Dan Haeg, musician and house painter

Back in the day, growing up as youngsters, we had a fair and a parade beginning at The Way, where the Fourth Precinct Police Station is now, and going to the Phyllis Wheatley Center near Ninth and Fremont, right in the projects where we had these battles of the bands. Grand Central Station, the Fantasy band, the Lewis Brothers would all be there; The Time, with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and everybody would be interchanging instruments. Prince was onstage, Andre Cymone, Cynthia Johnson, the list goes on and on. Prince used to stay with Andre and Andre's mother, Bernadette Anderson, on 12th and Russell; we used to play football every Saturday morning on Lincoln field.

But when I think of summer it is what has happened to me recently, because the Juneteenth parade is coming up and my mother passed in June and the last thing she saw me do was be in the Juneteenth parade. She had a massive heart attack at the house. Quinton Scott, a volunteer with the Elks Drum and Bugle Corps and also a volunteer at KMOJ, the same day they found out my mother had passed, and all my family was there at the house, they came and played the drums right there in the street outside, like "Taps." It was a spiritual thing, with things very quiet. It made me realize how much love and respect I have in the community, both black and white--much respect to them. Sometimes you hide pain and sometimes you have to deal with it. My mother was the greatest woman ever to live in this world.

--Walter Q-Bear Banks,
KMOJ radio

The memory when I think of summer is of my Latin gigs and my first gig was in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in 1973. It was for a Cuban social club that was going downhill and it was a benefit. We took in $1,100 and everybody thought we had won the lottery. I thought I was going to die; that we'd lose our pants. I was a young kid then, just out of the military. I did the Joe Cuba Sextet; you know the song that went, "bang bang, ah peep peep"? And they'd have that disco whistle. I think I paid like $650. In those days the Latin bands would do like five or six gigs in the same night. They'd drive around in a big car; these Latin guys would go to Queens for an hour and then over to Manhattan for an hour, then maybe to the Bronx, maybe come do an hour for me in Jersey, and end up at 5 in the morning in Harlem. Willie Colon, Eddie Palmieri, all the guys would do this. In Perth Amboy, you had the oil refineries and it was always hot with all those torches going on. This was a hot summer night. The gig was upstairs, no elevators. And they'd pull up in this big car and haul everything up the stairs. Joe Cuba. Summer makes me think of these things.

--Victor Valens,
promoter of the Twin Cities
Latin Jazz Festival


The summer I graduated from Walt Whitman High School in New York, the Stones put out Some Girls and that was our soundtrack to the last month of school. "Shattered" was everybody's favorite because of the New York references; we thought it was very inside. It was one of those funnel things; it crystallized us. The closest the Stones were playing that summer was in Philly and so we had to take a train down there. The train just started collecting Stones fans, beginning with me and 15 of my buddies, and at each stop there was more and more high school kids, so that by 50 miles out of New York there was like four train cars full of kids. It was 1978, a big time for weed. One of my friends rolled 21 doobies for the three-day trip; another had 18; I was the pussy with 10. Foreigner came on first and they got booed off the stage after two songs. Then Peter Tosh comes out and Jagger joins him for "Legalize It" and everyone is smoking pot. I still have the ticket stub.

True story: About two weeks later, we were driving in Long Island in a 1967 Delta 88, a blue-grey convertible, ugly but huge; it took three people to put the top down. I swear to God, while we were listening to the Stones' "When The Whip Comes Down," five of us saw this UFO. It zig-zagged across the sky like nothing else could; it would go forward like three inches in the sky and then back one inch, like it was recapturing energy. It was like this very very very bright star. It took about five minutes to go across the whole sky. True story.

--John Eric Theide,
musician

There is a song called "In the Good Old Summertime" that on the surface might sound trite and overdone, but I think it is a reflection of a larger issue and that is the commonly held belief that at any given time, music and art reflect the overall consciousness of the society; what the society values, and what its morals are. And when you look at a song from 1903 that says you go walking hand in hand with your tootsie-wootsie, it to me reflects a bygone era: [He starts singing.] "In the good old summertime/In the good old summertime/Strolling through the shady lanes with your baby-mine/You hold her hand and she holds yours/And that's a very good sign/For she's your tootsie-wootsie in the good old summertime." It reflects kind of an innocence of an era, frankly, that I almost long for. There was another song of the era that was called "Turn Back The Universe and Give Me Yesterday," and that's kind of how I feel about a lot of the music that's going on today.

--"Diamond Jim" Dandy,
old time music performer

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