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Songs of Summer 2020

A Cape Cod rocky shoreline, with a lighthouse in the background and a small sailboat on the water
Wikimedia Commons
Sailboat off the coast of Cape Cod

In 1963 Nat King Cole sang, “Roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer…Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer.” We’re singing a different summer tune in 2020.

The summer of 2020 is NOT what summer is supposed to be.

Summer is supposed to be carefree beach days with cries of “Are we there yet?” and backyard barbecues for family reunions on the hottest day of the year. It’s supposed to be never-ending bean bag toss games and mosquito bites and Auntie complaining of the humidity and rushing in to the A.C. And all of this to the soundtrack of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” The Beach Boys (anything), and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” with “The Girl from Ipanema” with Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto thrown into the oldies mix. As the sun goes down everyone hops into their cars and heads out to the local drive-in ice cream stand. No masks. No social distancing. No worries.

That's not the summer we have this year. “Carefree” doesn’t apply since every single day now requires safety planning and worrying. On the other hand, how mindful we are becoming, as we learn to think about and plan how to live in the moment. I’ve heard from many listeners who say that despite the upheaval, they will use this messed-up summer for reflection, for life-assessing, and for figuring out, finally, how to chill.

Classical music can’t make COVID-19 disappear but it can help you catch your breath, calm your nerves and even inspire hope. Here are a few of my suggestions for your summer of 2020 playlist:

Sergei Prokofiev: Summer Day
This began as a 7-movement suite for children to play on the piano. With little tunes simply titled “Morning, “Tip and Run” (we know it as the game of Tag), “Repentance” (presumably after getting in trouble), to “Evening” with gentle lullabies:

Anton Webern: Im Sommerwind

This early Webern piece may be best described as musical minimalism - ironic, since this was written well before the term was widely used. I picture someone looking up at the sky from a backyard hammock…

William Grant Still: Summerland (from Three Visions for Piano)

It takes Still just 4 minutes to help bring back “normal.” Maybe it’s because it reminds me of “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and a time when troubles weren’t so…troubling.

Frederick Delius: Summer Evening

Because it’s all gonna be ok.

One More Thing: If there was ever a time when we could all use a little laugh, and maybe even a “wow,” it’s now. Enjoy this comic rendition by the chamber group Salut Salon of the ‘’Presto’ from Vivaldi’s “Summer” from “The Four Seasons.” And chill.

Stay safe, my friends. Be calm, and summer on.

Laura Carlo is the Morning Program Host for CRB.