Monday, September 26, 2005

Sly and the Family Stone - 'Hot Fun in the Summertime'

Listening to XM’s Deep Tracks for a few hours the other day, I was privy to their “Two Cool Old 45s” segment. For those who are unfamiliar, Deep Tracks is a channel that proclaims itself as being “dedicated to careers.” As a result, the station plays mostly deeper album cuts, reprises, live stuff, rare covers and longwinded jams. It is not a rarity to hear 12 minute long Frank Marino guitar solos or an obscure Charlie Daniels protest song (back when he was still a liberal). The channel has an old-school AM feel to it, and employs several slow talking, baritoned DJs just for good measure.

The “Two Cool Old 45s” segment, however, breaks the regular mold of the station and features two former A-sides from two classic bands in a row. Usually, these former hit songs abide by a unifying theme. For the particular segment I listened to, the theme was “summertime” and both ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ and ‘I Get Around’ were featured. While I certainly have always enjoyed the Beach Boys tune, it was Sly and the Family Stone's ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ that struck my fancy. In fact, I must ashamedly admit I had never heard the song until this time. Part of that, though, was due to my limited exposure to such hits as ‘Everyday People’ via television car advertisements---I resultantly just sort of wrote the band off and paid them little heed.

I like a number of things about ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime.’ The fact that it opens up with a gruvis piano lick goes a long way in my book. The Motownesque rhythm and harmonization, supplemented by a full brass and woodwind orchestra is appealing too. The refrain is whimsical and easy going, embodying the true spirit of summer. The song is relatively simple and innocent, and it clocks in at an amazingly short two-and-a-half minutes. I also swear that Genesis borrowed the background bass-beat and implemented it in their hit single ‘Misunderstanding.’ I suppose the timing surrounding me hearing the song was a factor as well. Considering that another summer has slowly fallen through the cracks, this Sly and the Family Stone number aroused feelings of longing and remembrance of the most recent June, July and August months.

I realize that I may be somewhat out of the loop, as many of you have assuredly heard ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ many a time before. However, I feel that even a discovery for only myself can serve as a rediscovery for the rest. With that said, dust off your vinyls and give ‘Hot Fun in the Summertime’ one more spin before the last of the warm season passes.

1 comment:

Gstringclitlick said...

You are absolutely right about that but I wonder if they asked to use it or if Sly is too cool to sue them or his management too dumb. But I think we all know they've got money he hasn't got. It's basically a complete rip off of the song because it both songs that bass beat, as you refer to it, is actually what would be considered the main riff. I like both songs but I'm a lot more familiar with the Genesis catalogue and definitely respect and enjoy their work. I was driving in the car by myself a few years ago and heard Hot Fun In The Summertime on the radio and immediately said to myself "wow Genesis stole this fucking guy's tune and got away with it and I was astonished because both songs were hits are both recognizable to a lot of people. But who knows maybe he already sued them and settled out of court for extra dough to not make them look stupid or something. Otherwise I would think his liscensing company or whoever owns the rights to his songs would be cashing in by now.