Saturday, September 27, 2014

Frank Sinatra -- "Summer Wind" (1966)

Like painted kites
Those days and nights
They went flyin' by

I'm not much of a dancer.  In fact, the last time I danced was at my son Nick's wedding last October.

But tonight I'll be dancing at my daughter Caroline's wedding.  She and I will take the floor for the traditional father-daughter dance sometime around 8:30 or 9:00 PM, and this will be the song we dance to.

It took me a long time to decide on the song for our father-daughter dance.  That's my nature -- there's no decision so small that I can't overthink it.

My decision was complicated by the fact that my daughter Sarah (Caroline's twin) is getting married in November.

So I had to pick two songs for father-daughter dances -- and those songs needed to have a certain symmetry.

I considered a number of other songs for my first father-daughter dance.  

For example, since Caroline's wedding is taking place on Cape Cod, and a number of the guests will be making their first trip to Cape Cod, I thought about using Patti Page's "Old Cape Cod" for our dance.  It would have been a safe choice, but it didn't really excite me.  (Click here to read the 2 or 3 lines post about "Old Cape Cod.")

I seriously considered "Caroline, No" from the Beach Boys' perfect album, Pet Sounds.

The fact that it has "Caroline" in the title would be the main reason for choosing it, but it's also an absolutely lovely song with lyrics that can be read as describing a father's sadness when he realizes that his little girl is all grown up and ready to leave the nest:

Where did your long hair go?
Where is the girl I used to know?

Of course, "Caroline, No" isn't sung by a father saying goodbye to his grown-up daughter.  It's sung by a lover to a girl who has dumped his ass because she's not really into him any more.

I wasn't surprised that my Caroline was not very enthusiastic when I mentioned "Caroline, No" as a possibility for the father-daughter dance.  She may have been taken aback by lines like "How could you lose that happy glow?" and especially "It's so sad to watch a sweet thing die."  

I think "Summer Wind" is a really good choice for our dance for several reasons.  For one thing, the Sinatra recording is just the right tempo for us to dance to.

But I liked it mostly because the incomparable Johnny Mercer's lyrics are just right for the occasion.

First of all, those lyrics are well-suited for a wedding overlooking a Cape Cod beach -- you have the summer wind "blowin' in from across the sea" as "we strolled that golden sand" and gazed up at the "blue umbrella sky."

The song was written about a brief summer romance between a man and a woman.  But when I hear the lyrics, I think about a different kind of romance -- the romance between a father and a young daughter, 

The season of a father's life when his beloved daughter is young and he is the most important man in her life is a lovely and amazing interlude, sort of like a summer vacation on Cape Cod.

But as the song's lyrics go on to say,

Like painted kites
Those days and nights
They went flyin' by  

All too soon, the summer wind gives way to the autumn wind.

And all too soon, your child's childhood is over as well.  The summer of a parent'slife ends when that happens, replaced by autumn -- and when autumn arrives, winter isn't far behind.  

In the words of another beautifully wistful song,

Oh, it's a long time
From May to December
But the days grow short
When you reach September

To say that I'm in the September of my life may be a little optimistic.  After all, September 27 is almost October, isn't it?

Sadly, some of us are already in the December of our lives -- my parents, for example.  They were unable to attend Caroline's wedding today because my mother suffered a compound fracture of her ankle last month.  Hopefully, they will be able to attend Sarah's wedding on November 15.

Here's Frank Sinatra's 1966 recording of "Summer Wind," which was one of his final collaborations with arranger/conductor Nelson Riddle and his orchestra:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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