Summer in the City

Performed, recorded and produced by Steve Keith at Baselines Designs Studio in Boston, MA.

This song was a coming of age song for me – I remember waking up on sunny summer days and hearing it play on the top 40 radio station in my area. Rock music changed my young life!

Summer in the City” is a song by the American pop band the Lovin’ Spoonful, written by John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian and Steve Boone. It was released as a single in July 1966 and was included on the album Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful later that year. The single was the Lovin’ Spoonful’s fifth to break the top ten in the US and their only to reach No.?1. A departure from the band’s lighter sound, the recording features a harder rock style. The lyrics differ from most songs about the summer by lamenting the heat, contrasting the unpleasant warmth and noise of the daytime with the relief offered by the cool night, which allows for the nightlife to begin.

John Sebastian reworked the lyrics and melody of “Summer in the City” from a song written by his teenage brother, Mark. Boone contributed the song’s bridge while in the studio. The Lovin’ Spoonful recorded “Summer in the City” in two sessions at Columbia Studios in New York in March 1966. Erik Jacobsen produced the sessions with assistance from engineer Roy Halee, while Artie Schroeck performed as a session musician on a Wurlitzer electric piano. The recording is an early instance in pop music of added sound effects, made up of car horns and a pneumatic drill to replicate the sounds of the city.

“Summer in the City” has since received praise from several music critics and musicologists for its changing major-minor keys and its inventive use of sound effects. The song has been covered by several artists, including Quincy Jones, whose 1973 version won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement and has since been sampled by numerous hip hop artists.

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