POSIES, ZOMBIES, CANDLES & SUMMER

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As part of the ABC’s of Rock, I’ve been posting about my years of fanning and friending with the Posies.  Check out the BIG POSIE STARS photo album to see most of the posts. I had to mention how nice they were to let us use a track for the Songs For Summer charity album and found what I wrote about them for the album’s website back in 2000 on Archive.org.

Ah, the Posies. Without them, who knows where we’d be? We might never have heard Big Star. I might never have had the pleasure of seeing Summer sing “Who gives a shit?!” If I hadn’t joined their online mailing list, we would never have met some very cool people, including Cari, who designed this site, and Patrick, who appears with Pansy Division on the record, and Andie, who has really cool red hair right now. We wouldn’t have had a free place to stay on our New York vacation (listmember Drew and his girlfriend, Karen, let us stay with them, even though we’d never met them). Luckily, we weren’t without them.

frostingSummer loved Frosting On The Beater so much that she broke the cd case. “Solar Sister” was one of her favorite songs ever, even before I knew her. For some strange reason, I owned every Posies album and single on cd EXCEPT for FOTB. In a move that SCREAMS commitment, we agreed to combine certain bands within our collections. So, she gave me her copies of Frosting and #1/Radio City while I gave her my Cocteau Twins and Bjork cd’s so they’d all be in one place in our apartment. Sick, innit?

After we started dating, Summer started hearing and falling in love with the rest of the Posies’ tunes. She also grew to love the bands that they covered and were influenced by (Big Star, the Zombies, the Bee Gees). We were going to film ourselves in polyester outfits singing a lounge version of “Everybody Is A Fucking Liar” but never got around to it. We also never got around to seeing them together because she was always being underaged. Lucky me (no pun intended), she insisted I go see them without her and was treated to three stellar performances in as many years. I managed to get a few videos of their shows, which she loved watching.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 9.02.30 PMPeople on the band’s online mailing list, Dear 23, had been reading me blab about Summer for a couple of years. Out of the hundreds of people on the list, no one knew the name of anyone’s boyfriends or girlfriends, except for me and the girl who ran the list. When I asked if anyone wanted to send Summer a get-well note, they poured in. Many of the first people to sign the guestbook on the See Summer Swing Dance website were Dear 23 listmembers. A few of them even sent donations, even though they’d never even met her. Many of them told me that they felt like they did know her, just from reading my posts.

After Summer passed away, I decided to make a video to give to friends. It consisted of three parts, one of videos of her with a Stan Getz song playing behind it, one of photos of her set to “Where’s Summer B?” by Ben Folds Five and one of her artwork, in time with the Posies “Paint Me” (hopefully coming to Youtube soon). After the band’s first farewell concert in San Francisco in 1998, I had the pleasure of watching them watch this video. They tapped their feet, smiled, laughed and totally loved it.

For some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to get up and sing some of Summer’s favorite songs with them up in Seattle. I ended up cancelling the trip but at their next show in LA, Ken said, “I thought you were going to sing with us!” Gulp. They said I could sing “Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will Show You” by the Bee Gees with them the next night in Santa Barbara, even though they’d never played it before. I couldn’t even remember the words, so Jon told them to me and I walked around all day saying them to myself. Brian and Joe had never heard the song before and, as luck would have it, I had a tape of the Bee Gees’ version. It was on a mixtape made by our friend Tom Morgan, who I’d met at a Posies show and would be quick to tell you that he makes the best mixtapes on earth. Of course, he made this tape using our cd’s but I digress…

So, I got up and, wearing a “That Summer Feeling” t-shirt, dedicated the song to “the girl upstairs”, sang the only live version the band ever did of the song, and gave them all kisses. I thought I sang ok but the resulting videotape proved otherwise. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to destroy all of the existing copies because people keep trading it. I know she’s up there laughing at me. After the show, I asked them if it was ok if I added their name to the list of bands who were committed to being on Songs For Summer. I wasn’t sure if they’d end up on volume one or two but they said they were in.

A year later, the making of the album had dragged on long enough and I was all too happy to give up on trying to cut the more popular groups’ red tape so that some of Summer’s favorite lesser known groups could be on the album too. I got in contact with Jon and Ken and I proposed a few ideas for songs we could use: “Solar Sister” (her favorite), “Open Every Window” (her second favorite), “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” (their ONkey version), “Fall Apart With Me” (because of the Summer references), and the song they chose, their cover of the Zombies’ “Brief Candles’.

world of zombiesShe first heard their version on the Zombies tribute album, World of the Zombies. The album also has Zumpano’s version of “Changes”, one of her absolute favorite recordings ever (mine too). Summer didn’t know much 60’s pop music when we met, but, in our years together, we both grew to love lost masterpieces by bands like the Kinks, the Left Banke and the Zombies. I finally bought the Zombies album Odessey and Oracle after having it recommended to me by numerous people over the years. Summer and I both fell in love with it instantly.

Getting the song on Songs For Summer wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. The company that had swallowed up the record label that the Posies were signed to when they originally recorded the song thought they wouldn’t be able to get in contact with the band in time for our everchanging deadline and said we couldn’t use it. They didn’t realize I’d already talked to the band and after a quick panic and an e-mail from Ken, who was on tour with REM in Europe, we had their ok 24 hours later. Phew. Then, no one knew where the master tape was and we couldn’t take it off of the World of the Zombies cd because you could hear the song before it still fading out at the beginning. Conrad Uno from Popllama came through with a DAT. Thanks, Conrad!!!

It was worth it. The song is beautiful and very appropriate. The title says it all, doesn’t it?

Ah, the Posies.

sfs artworkPlenty of copies of Songs For Summer to be found on Amazon

More Summer tales here.

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