Welcome back to another week here at Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold, where I have the inexplicable need to mention the name of the series at the beginning and end of each entry. Oh, what mellow goodness shall we be mining for today? What could beat last week’s song by “England Dan” Seals and John Ford Coley?
Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (download)
From one Seals to another, bitches!
I’ve wanted to cover “Summer Breeze” for months, now. Pretty much since I started this series. I thought perhaps it was lame, though, to cover it during the late Fall or early Winter, considering the song is not called “Autumn Breeze” or “Winter Breeze.” (Kind of a shame, really, because Autumn breezes rock, and also make me feel fine.) Technically, it’s not summer yet, but since I live in the concrete jungle, the days of summer breezes are pretty much over already. (We had a great early May.) But enough babbling: let’s cover the hell out of this one.
Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts have shared a great deal of interesting experiences together; it would be difficult to cover all the facets of their career in this entry, so I’ll point you towards the official Seals & Crofts website, where you can follow their career from junior high school, when they first met, to The Champs (of “Tequila” fame), to a band with Glen Campbell, to their success as S&C and beyond. It’s a fantastic chronicle of the duo written by a guy named Anthony Bentivegna, who is to Seals & Crofts what Dominic is to Benny Mardones (that joke will make sense to the five of you who read the site back in the Fall). Thanks, Tony. You’ve allowed me to be lazy. The only thing I’ll lift from your site is the following two pictures, which I need to categorize under “NOT OKAY:”
In a move later regretted by both, Seals takes Crofts to prom.
“Please, God, don’t let Crofts eat me.”
Seals & Crofts had released three albums as a duo following their departure from The Champs, but it wasn’t until 1972 when their fourth, Summer Breeze, was a smash, reaching #7 on the Billboard charts. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that the album was purely a duo effort: Seals & Crofts employed no less than three drummers, four bassists and five pianists – including John Ford Coley. (In your face, England Dan!) And, in true Mellow Gold fashion…only one electric guitar. That’s what I’m talkin’ about!
“Summer Breeze,” as a single, reached #6 on the Hot 100, and #4 on the AC charts. Wisely, Warner Bros chose to release the single over the summer – unlike, say, David Geffen, who released Don Henley’s “Boys Of Summer” in December. But I digress. “Summer Breeze” was a deserved hit – a simple, pleasant – dare I say, breezy and fine – tune, in and out in under three-and-a-half minutes.
Why so perfect? Well, we could start by checking out that opening riff – instantly recognizable, no? I’d argue that many people would know it just from those four guitar notes, but certainly anyone would recognize it by the time the horn part kicks in. Incidentally, the only horn-esque instrument credited on the record is a saxophone, but that opening doesn’t sound much like a sax to me. Maybe it’s a woodblock.
As for the verses, I’d guess that most people don’t pay too much attention to them. I mean, let’s face it: “Summer Breeze” is all about the chorus. Did you know that one of the verse lyrics is “See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two?” I sure as hell didn’t! And who cares? All I care about is the following: “Summer breeze makes me feel fine, blowin’ through the jasmine in my
Now, I wasn’t aware that you could actually have jasmine in your
mind miiiiiind. Were they smoking jasmine? Were they cannibals who actually ate someone named Jasmine? (I have cannibals on the brain because last week, my play, Postcards From A Dead Dog, was in a competition opposite a number of plays, including one about cannibalism. The guy apparently wrapped turkey meat around his arm, and then people methodically picked it off and ate it. Oh, and later on, he stuck a hypodermic needle in his eye. We didn’t win the competition. I’m praying they did.)
And what about this business of “makes me feel fine?” Could we not come up with a better, more enthusiastic word than “fine?” Cutting my toenails makes me feel fine. I wouldn’t put it on the same level as a summer breeze, though. When you think about it, it’s the kind of phrase that fits right in with a song like “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” which is chock-full of mellow ambivalence.
We already know that most Mellow Gold songs are big on harmony. The more voices, the better, right? At the very most, “Summer Breeze” has three, but mostly, it’s just Seals & Crofts. The two only sing together in harmony during the chorus, and on the word “mind.” Why, I ask you, is that one harmony so freakin’ awesome? It’s so simple, yet so beautiful. I don’t even mind that there were three voices on the words “summer breeze” and we lost one of them immediately following. I also love the chorus because I work relatively close to Sotheby’s, and few days go by where I don’t pass the building and sing “Sotheby’s…”
And the bridge. Oh man, the bridge! The bridge rocks! And a clever lead-in, to boot – the duo echo (in unison, dammit) the main song’s riff, and then suddenly, holy shit – we’re in a Chicago song! Listen to those horns in the background! And once I actually paid attention to the lyric – “And I come home from a hard day’s work, and you’re waiting there, not a care in the world” – I realized two things. 1) Tenacious D has made it impossible for me to sing anything other than “a hard day’s rockin’,” and 2) I love that lyric. And what could be better – the bridge leads right back into the verse, but this time, we get some glorious vocals behind the first line. Unfortunately, though, just like that, they’re gone again. Oh, Seals. And Crofts. Why must you tease us so?
So yeah. I love “Summer Breeze.” And I’m not the only one. Let’s talk remakes and remixes.
Remakes & Remixes
I’ve posted some remixes on here before – actually, come to think of it, I think they’ve all been Christopher Cross remixes. (I almost posted a “Club Mix” of “I’ve Never Been To Me” but thought better of it.) Those remixes have pretty much sucked. I don’t blame you if you refuse to ever trust me again when it comes to remixes. But if you’re willing to just give me one more chance (to show you that I love you), then download this one remix.
In 2004 – back when I still watched commercials, I remember seeing an ad for The Gap that featured this awesome remix of “Summer Breeze.”. I loved it instantly, and I guess I wasn’t alone, because “Summer Breeze (Philp Steir Remix)” was released as a single on iTunes a few weeks later, and even reached #15 hit on the Billboard AC chart! Not too shabby. As remixes go, this one is pretty classy.
Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (Philip Steir Remix) (download)
By Tony’s estimation on the S & C website, there have been well over 30 covers of “Summer Breeze.” The first one appeared only one year after its initial release, courtesy of the Isley Brothers, who slowed it down and funked it up. I personally don’t care for this cover, but maybe it’s more your style.
The Isley Brothers – Summer Breeze (download)
If you really want to hear “Summer Breeze” slowed down – and completely remade – check out this cover. I’m including it here because I think it’s just funny that a Type O Negative song would make its way over to this website, and on a Mellow Gold post to boot. Mellow miners, I am not responsible for what happens should you choose to download this one.
Type O Negative – Summer Breeze (download)
In 2007, the powerhouse (and I use the term quite loosely) team of Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades released an album of cover tunes, called Influence. “Summer Breeze” is the first track. I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t hate it. I actually dug their choices of instrumentation, and thought that Shaw added a few higher harmonies that didn’t suck. But of course, they took it too far. Shaw added some completely unnecessary harmonies right before the bridge. I wish Dennis DeYoung was singing this one. Eat it, Shaw!
Shaw-Blades – Summer Breeze (download)
Note that Jason Mraz has remade “Summer Breeze” – you can find it on the Everwood soundtrack – but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let jasonhare.com become a conduit for his special oh-so-annoying brand of putting a big breath before every word and his “brah lah dah hah dee dah dah listen to my voice crack repeatedly” bullshit.
Okay, just a snippet. Just to prove how much he needs to be punched in the mouth. And I actually liked his first album. I’m thinking about setting it on fire now. I’d rather listen to the WSP D-Bag than Jason Mraz at this point.[audio:http://www.wwmmd.net/tunes/inline/mrazbreeze1.mp3]
Right? Right? Crofts needs to kick some Mraz ass.
In 2004, Seals & Crofts reunited to re-record some of their greatest hits. But rest easy, friends – they didn’t throw a rap in the middle like Alan O’Day. In fact, their cover of “Summer Breeze” isn’t really much of an update – a bit more echo on the vocals, a few more instruments here and there – it doesn’t really improve on the original, but it’s certainly pleasant as well.
Seals & Crofts – Summer Breeze (2004 remake) (download)
Okay, enough downloads: time for video! Here’s Seals & Crofts performing on The Midnight Special!
I love this clip! TV was just so much better in the ’70s! The sound mix is poor! Seals’ hat completely covers his eyes! Crofts’ hair looks like it came from one of those Playmobil characters!
This clip, from the 1991 Oregan State Fair, really doesn’t bring anything to the table. But look at Crofts! He’s rockin’ the Jeff Lynne face, the Slash top hat, and the midwest prostitute cowboy boots! He’s making all sorts of rock faces – watch it all the way to the end! And look – on bass, it’s Billy Ray Cyrus!
This clip actually makes me a bit sad, actually. Crofts clearly never read Gestures One Must Not Make While Playing A Mandolin.
Well, folks, if you loved “Summer Breeze” before, either you really love it now, or you’re praying for the turning of the leaves. Either way, I think I’ve done my job. See you next week for another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!