Get the Action Goin’

We’re already hearing the trill of the tree frog up here in Wisconsin (“six weeks till frost,” as my mother always says when she hears one). I have always considered July 31 to be the height of summer, and starting tomorrow, we’re on the road to autumn. But before we start down that road, let’s talk about summer songs.

Summer songs don’t have to be songs that were hits during the summer. For example, I used to identify the Temptations’ “My Girl” with summer, because one summer, The Mrs. and I listened to an oldies station that played it almost daily. The record itself had been a hit in the winter of 1965. More often, though, summer songs were summer hits. Like hit songs of all seasons, they got locked up with memories of where we were, what we were doing, and who we were doing it with. But because we attach added importance to summer—mostly because we filled summers back in the day with infinite possibilities, and occasionally saw those possibilities turn into delicious reality—summer songs, for many people, trigger the most powerful music-related memories we’ve got.

It helps if a summer song sounds like summer. But that sparks a question: Does this song actually sound like summer, or do I think it sounds like summer because it’s one of my summer songs? For most summer songs, if this issue resolves itself, it’s probably on the molecular level. In the end, it’s a distinction without a difference. Isn’t it? Hell, I dunno. Officially, I’m not even here right now; I’m on vacation, and you’re reading this post only through the good graces of our robot overlords at WordPress. But I’ll say this: The record I’m posting today sounds like summer to me.

We’re out driving on a stifling summer night. In the distance, we see some lights. It’s a fair or a festival or something, so let’s park and wander in. Over there, a crowd of people are disco-dancing to a band. Gotta give ’em credit for workin’ it like they are, as hot as it is tonight. On the bandstand, beneath the lights, it’s even hotter. The band is sweating more than the dancers are, and the singer, who started the evening with big 70s hair that has now wilted in the humidity, is working harder than all of ’em. That’s not stopping her, though. Neither is the fact that she doesn’t sing very well—the band is into the music, the crowd is into it too, and at the height of summer, that’s enough to make a party. For this is the summer of 1976—disco is starting to happen, but the beat has yet to become mindless, and sweat is not yet merely a fashion accessory. The band is playing their biggest hit, and to the extent that it’s mindless, it’s at least mindless in a charming way. More important—to the dancers, and to us—it also has more than its share of erotic attraction.

The latter is no accident. The singer has deliberately worn as little as possible to this particular gig. Not only that, she made about 50 porn films when she was just starting out in showbiz. She had wanted to be a serious actress, but it didn’t work out that way. In 1975, she found herself stuck in Jamaica, and while she was there, a friend who was also a record producer provided her with an instrumental track. She whipped up some lyrics, hired some local musicians, and ended up with a master tape of a song that contained a sly reference to her former career: “Get the cameras rollin’/Get the action goin'” She’d have to go back into porn for a while after the record hit, and would never score another hit of similar magnitude. Yet we’ve never forgotten her first time: The signature song of her career ended up one of the signature songs of my favorite summer.

“More More More” (album version)/Andrea True Connection (buy the 45 version here)

One thought on “Get the Action Goin’

  1. A nice bit of scene-setting! I could feel the sweat and smell the stale beer.

    My favorite summer was a year earlier than yours, 1975, and the song that always puts me there is Jessi Colter’s “I’m Not Lisa.” Why? Dunno. (The song that puts me into your summer, 1976, is “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” and after all these years, I still haven’t decided if that’s fortunate or not.)

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