Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Shirley Griffith. Summer begins this week in the northern part of the
world. To celebrate, we play some of our favorite songs about summer.
If you ask most Americans, they would say their favorite season of the year
is summer. The weather is warm. They do not have to wear heavy clothes to keep
warm. Young people do not have to go to school. They can do many activities
outside, like playing sports and swimming at the beach or the pool. They like
the sunshine during the day and the warm summer nights. People have written and
recorded hundreds of songs about summer. These are some of our favorites.
One of the most famous songs about summer is from George Gershwin's opera
"Porgy and Bess." He wrote the music in nineteen thirty-five. The opera takes
place in the southern United States. It opens with these words: "Summertime and
the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high." Leontyne Price
sings the song.
Here is Billy Stewart's version of the same song.
The nineteen fifties and sixties produced many songs about teenagers enjoying
their summer vacation from school. The songs are about having fun, swimming in
the ocean, driving in cars. This one is "Summertime, Summertime" by the Jamies.
It is summer almost all year long in California. And it was summer all the
time for the Beach Boys. They sang about their favorite activities, like riding
the ocean waves on surfboards. Here is one Beach Boy song, "All Summer Long."
However, for some teenagers, summer vacation was not all fun and games. Some
of them had to work to earn money. Eddie Cochran sang about this in "Summertime
Blues." Many other bands and artists later recorded this song, including the
British rock band, the Who.
The Lovin' Spoonful was a band that did not love summers in the city because
of the heat. They sang: "Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting
dirty and gritty." And: "All around, people looking half-dead, walking on the
sidewalk, hotter than a match head." They liked the nighttime better when they
could dance and have more fun. "Summer in the City" was released in the summer
of 1966 and was one of the Lovin' Spoonful's greatest hits.
Even though it was hot, Sly and the Family Stone still found ways to have fun
in the summertime. This song is about the happiness that the season promises,
including going to a "county fair in the country sun."
In the 1990s, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince produced this hip-hop song
called "Summertime." It is about being with friends and having a good time.
We leave you with a song from the movie version of the musical "Grease." It
is about two teenagers who meet during their summer vacation and fall in love.
Back at school in the autumn, they tell their friends all about it. John
Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sing "Summer Nights."
Our program was written by Shelley Gollust and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm
And I'm Steve Ember. You can see pictures of Special English listeners on our
Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find transcripts and audio
archives of our programs. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA