Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Mungo Jerry




As the dog days of summer wind down (technincally, I suppose summer is probably over, but September tends to be the hottest month in L.A.), I revisit one of the great summertime albums of all time. Everyone loves the single "In the Summertime," one of the great summer songs of all time, but I'm here to tell ya that the rest of the album is great too. It all has the same feel as the single, a sort of laid-back, old-timey style that makes me feel like Tom and Huck, wading barefoot in the Mississippi looking for adventure. Like the Stones/Yardbirds/etc, they're a British band immitating arcane American sounds, in this case jugbands and ragtime piano.

My friend Doug bought this album at a flea market when we were in college. I knew "Summertime," and liked the song, but it would never have occurred to me to buy the album, because I "knew" they were an old one-hit-wonder of no signifigance. It's always good to hang around someone that doesn't "know" too much about music, so you can hear stuff like this.

This is a highly nostalgic album for me. In particular, it always makes me think of this one day (although it could well be a composite of several days, and for all I can remember we may not even have been listening to this album on any of them) driving around LaGrange (the lame Southern town where we attended college), smoking dope, drinking cheap wine (Gallo or Carlo Rossi or something) and looking for something to do. We went to the town square, and there was a dog show, of all things, going on. Hung out there for a while, then went to the lake and hit on a few underage girls (like, we were 19 or 20 and they were probably almost 18, so not pervy or anything). Then, out of sheer boredom, we started driving out the road past the lake. We ended up in the town of Franklin, taking a dirt road to the bank of a river. We saw a box float by in the water, but if you squinted, you could imagine the river was much bigger and it was a house being washed away by a flood. Obviously, this story doesn't add up to much, and I suppose neither does Mungo Jerry. It just feels like fun.

So I nominate this song, "Movin' On", as the great, lost summer classic. "Movin' On" tells a similar story: a guy wakes up on a lazy day, hitchhikes out to the beach with his guitar, chats up some girls, gets drunk with them, dances around a bonfire, and then the cops come by and chase them off. It's not much of a story to tell, but it sounds like a fun one to experience. Against all odds or logic, Mungo Jerry are still together, and still play occasional gigs.

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