Week 59: “Summertime” by Angelique Kidjo
If you were to shrink the year into one week, summer would be the weekend.
When you’re a kid in school, June feels like one long Friday. And even if you’re in the working world, June has that Friday-like sense of excitement; everyone’s asking each other what their plans are, and Monday just feels so far away.
July is like Saturday. People go on vacation. Friends come over for a barbecue. Parks are filled with dog-walkers, Frisbee players, and children with energy to burn.
August, on the other hand, definitely has a Sunday feel to it. A contented, relaxed, day-after-the-party kind of feel. Still fun, but a little voice keeps reminding you that Monday (autumn) is just around the corner. Better get those chores done…that homework finished…that shopping out of the way.
So whether you’re in school or not, here’s wishing you a happy Friday night with an interesting version of the old Gershwin tune, “Summertime”.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. The quiet summertime bugs in the background. Not sure if they’re crickets or cicadas, but they make me feel like grabbing an iced tea.
2. The vocal arrangement. Gershwin’s songs have been performed by uncountable numbers of people over the years, but you won’t find a more creative adaptation than this one. I love the vocal percussion at 0.34, the voices that stand in for the original string part at 1.03, and the lone voice that holds that awesome sustained note at 3.10.
3. The language. The internet had a hard time telling me whether or not she translated the original lyrics into Fon or Yoruba, both of which are languages of Kidjo’s native Benin. Frankly, it doesn’t matter much; she could be singing a translation of “Straight Outta Compton” and it would still sound lovely.
Recommended listening activity:
Sitting right next to a fan.