Summer, stripes and Joplin

After half a year of heavy jackets and coats, the whole idea of being able to walk out of your house in a linen shirt is a little weird. It’s wonderful, but at the same time, every time I get into the lift, I get this crazy feeling that I’ve forgotten something. I also feel absurdly under-dressed.

But summer is wonderful. SZ (a classmate) commented that I looked happy these days. I didn’t realize my face gave away that much. But yes, the sheer joy of squinting one’s eyes against the sun makes me happy. Summer tends to make me pensive and happy all at the same time. On that note, this is a photograph of a woman that I saw along the Southbank. Summer brings out all these stripey, dotty clothes. Like I said, to see all these people, devoid of their winter clothes almost gives you the impression that the city is walking half-naked. It’ll take sometime to get used to it, and by then the bloody weather may get cold again.

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The heat in the afternoons in London isn’t enough to lull it into silence. Quite unlike the summer afternoons that I am more familiar with, when all is quiet, all is heavy and all is hot. No, the afternoons here are quite lively. But if you’re like me, sitting and studying for exams, you don’t notice the liveliness. Which in its own wonderful way, (sometimes) takes care of homesickness. And for some reason that brings to mind the wonderful Janis Joplin singing Summertime. I have no idea how, but the first twenty seconds of the song drown me in everything summer. I discovered this song, aptly and obviously enough in some teen summer.

Summertime is a fantastic song with a curious history of arrangements and genres. Originally composed by George Gershwin in 1935 for an opera, it found its way into even more jazzy circuits. The original by Gershwin sounds somewhat like this. And this fabulous 1968 video of Ella Fitzgerald singing the same number is absolutely wonderful.

The mind is rather drawn to Joplin today. I’ll just give in.

11 Comments

Filed under London, Music, Film and Art, Photographs, Self

11 Responses to Summer, stripes and Joplin

  1. Yes, quite true that London becomes livelier the hotter it gets. A friend visiting from India commented on Wednesday that it looked like a holiday, with people standing on pavements at lunch time, in work clothes but drinking alcohol. Uh, no, said I. I also told her not to be fooled; and that sunshine lasts but a few days here.

    However I have noticed a sort of marginal utility curve of temperature and friendliness. Up to about 25C, people smile, stop cars to let pedestrians cross and somewhere around 29-30C, this cheeriness turns into bad mood, irritability etc.

    And I think Ella Fitzgerald’s version of Summertime is the best but my all time summer song is Brubeck’s Summer Song by Louis Armstrong. :-)

  2. Ah! You should come here. People get so excited they start walking around in shirts in 50 and 60 degree (Fahrenheit) weather…I have realized that temperature is completely relative. Fifty degrees is very warm if you have only seen thirties for a month..

  3. Gah! I meant shorts, not shirts..

  4. ??!

    After the Joplin version, my personal favourite is the one by Al Jarreau. Two quite different tempos and rhythms, but both equally wonderful.

  5. km

    I was going to say, people in Lekhni’s town don’t wear shirts at other times? :)

  6. Are u talking about Scot Joplin or Janis Joplin??

  7. Ella Fitzgerald version’s just too good! You made my day… Thanks!

  8. Pepper: Scott – not the same gender or ethnicity as Janis – was a composer and pianist, who did not record any vocals to the best of my knowledge :-)

  9. Shefaly: Absolutely. On sunny days, London almost turns continental. But if the temperature continues to rise, the underground will be full of fainting people, the cars will refuse to move on the streets, and the general sweat-factor appear to lead to irritability. But the wardrobes of Londoners amuse me immensely. They are so quick to ditch the heavy overcoats and jump into their cottons. And it’s all timed beautifully.

    Lekhni: The Brits mostly keep their shirts on. Though I did see a few shirtless people running about. :) Yes, the skirts. Such courage they require to. But they don’t make decent sandals here. Half the country is moaning with “sandal-bites”. Tell tale signs of red havoc on their ankles.

    ??!: I have a feeling that song is impossible to screw-up. It captures the wistfulness of summer so accurately. But my favourite was always Joplin’s. Such intensity, such abandon.

    km: Freudian shirt perhaps?

    Pepper: As I mention in the post – I am referring to Janis Joplin. As far as I know, Scott Joplin died much before the song was even composed. Moreover, as Shefaly points out, I don’t think Scott Joplin recorded vocals – he’s best known for the ragtime compositions.

    aandthirtyeights: She is magnificent isn’t she? More suited to summer evenings than afternoons perhaps. She brings out all the adverbs from the closet. Wonderfully languid.

  10. Neha: That is so right. Those pavements full of people drinking…

    I think the UK is a nation of incorrigible optimists. The number of open-top cars and halter-top wearing women is indirectly proportional to the actual number of sunny days (I write this on Thursday, with tip-tip rain having punctuated the whole day)… C’est la vie!

    PS: You did a garden tour once. What month was that? I found a woman who does a garden tour in the City which may interest you if that was not exactly your day out too..

  11. i am talking about Janis Joplin.