“Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful on Morning Edition today. Thanks to my dad, I’ve been a Spoonful fan since age 6. He would play a rockin’ version of “Jug Band Music” on his guitar and I would dance around and sing. I’m pretty sure I was the only first grader who was familiar with the collected works of Jon Sebastian.
Hearing that song on the radio caused me to relive a memory that really isn’t mine. It’s my dad’s experience, of the moment in when he first heard that song, on the radio, at the kitchen table of a house he and some friends were living in, someplace outside of Boston, the summer after he graduated from high school, in 1966. He was standing at the sink, doing dishes when the deejay announced that after the commercial break, they would be playing the newest, hottest song from the Lovin’ Spoonful. He turned off the faucet, dried his hands and sat down at the table, to be ready to give his full attention to the song. As it started to play, the teasing preamble of organ and drums pulled him in, then the guitars and vocals blew him away.
I’ve always imagined that room he was sitting in was white, with an old white enameled gas stove and lots of windows. I can see my 17 year old father, his thick blonde hair starting to get long, one tanned arm resting on the table, the other flung over the back of the wooden chair. He is listening to this song for the first time, lost to the rest of the world for a few minutes. It’s an experience that will never be repeated.