On this day 35 years ago, the great Tim Buckley died. I thought of him last weekend when fellow Anti-Roomer Nadine O’Regan asked for summer song suggestions on her Kiosk show. Like its more evil sister question – “what music do you like?” – this is a difficult beast to tackle. Sometimes memory and music are inextricable, bound up for good and bad reasons. The summer of 1982 meant two things: my First Communion and the constant radio rotation of Nicole’s Eurovision winner, A Little Peace. As her song raced to the top of the charts, my mother was engaged in the summer ritual of taking off our winter bedclothes and putting on light sheets. This was, after all, before the advent of the duvet (or “continental quilt” as it was glamorously dubbed back then). Nicole’s childlike tones were easily aped by a seven-year-old, which led to me being badgered into singing the song at family parties. Frankie by Sister Sledge reminds me of dawdling on a neighbour’s wall with friends, sweltering, bored and desperate to be in love, listening to a tinny ghetto blaster (Blue Monday by New Order was also played a lot, much to the irritation of Mr. Murray, our neighbour). My post-Inter (Junior) Cert summer was nightmarishly soundtracked by Bryan Adams clinging on to the charts for 16 grim weeks with Everything I Do (I Do It For You). And then came 1995 – the obligatory J1 summer in America, dominated by Beck’s Loser, mixtapes and Glory Box by Portishead. My over-riding memory of the balmier months of 2001 is of Saturday nights spent at Thomas the Skank Engine in the Thomas House. The night would end with the windows fogged up, en masse sweating and everyone dancing on the seats to Daft Punk’s One More Time. Those terrifyingly fun nights contrast hugely with the summer weeks of 2007, when my son was born. A difficult sleeper, my only recall of the fuzzy, first few weeks of his life is pushing his buggy rhythmically to Amiina’s lullabies, willing his blue eyes to sleep.
All wonderful, varied, hot, hectic summers, but one song, appropriately enough, always flits into my head on days crammed with sunshine. Tim Buckley’s Buzzin’ Fly manages to to conjure up rolling American plains, dust bowls, cold beers, cut grass and wanting to feel the sun on your face, like no other tune.
R.I.P. Tim. What are your most loved/hated/evocative summer songs?