How ‘Summer in the City’ Became the Soundtrack for Every City Summer

The dog days of 1966 were filled with riots, protests and a nation on edge. Not to mention a brutal heat wave. But in Greenwich Village, something new was happening.

Comments: 135

  1. This pushed some buttons. To give you an idea of how things have changed, the student council at my highschool (north hagerstown MD) actually put on a concert in our theater with the Spoonful and The Turtles on a weeknight in 1966. Both bands had top 10 hits at the time; try and imagine one of the drama-laden popstars of the current eon playing at a regional highschool auditorium just to entertain some very culturally hungry kids.

  2. @Frank Discussion
    That’s nothing.

    I was only one of about 100 who showed up to hear the Grateful Dead’s First NYC concert at Tompkins Square Park in June 1967 - and it was FREE.

    Only 100 people at a free Dead concert, imagine. I still have photographs I took.

  3. So there were 100 people in NYC that were stoned enough to think the dead were worth listening to.

  4. What's even more amazing is how inexpensive the ticket prices were at that time even for the top people like Dylan and the Beatles. At that time people toured to sell records so the money they made from ticket sales was probably of secondary importance. Now for many performers, it is the major source of their incomes.

  5. Music is a wonderful art form. For those open and willing, music has the ability to connect with us emotionally, communicate with us in the truest form and even manipulate our thoughts and feelings.

    "Summer in the City" brings be back to 1966 in NYC. I can clearly feel the, the heat and humidity, I can re-experience my first emotions with "puppy love" and I can remember those growing up days on Rockaway Beach. Every once in a while, I'll listen to the song and be transported back.

    The same holds true for "A Hard Day's Night" in 1964, "Spinning Wheel" 1969, "Layla" 1972 and countless others.

    Who says that "Time Travel" is impossible? Not for me!

  6. @Gaucho54
    "Time of the Season" by The Zombies (1968) would be another strong contender...

  7. Wonderful dissection of an iconic summer song. One sticking point, I would say Charles Unruh (13 dead, Camden NJ 1949), and not Charles Whiteman, introduced America to mass murder, and that only in the post WWII era. The history of mass murder is a long one in this country.

  8. @JAGI think Whitman introduced it, not because he was the first American to do it, but because he was the first to do so when most Americans had a television.

  9. @JAG the Camden killer in 1949 was Howard Unruh, not Charles.

  10. "Hums of the Lovin Spoonful" is one of the most underrated albums from that era. It anticipated country music, (Johnny Cash covered 'Darlin' Companion' and Bobby Darin covered 'Lovin You'), incorporated blues and straight ahead rock, Spector's 'wall of sound', used instruments like the bagpipe, harmonium, banjo etc. And the band had 'time' and could swing.
    Also Zal could play a guitar like rings bell, incorporating T-Bone Walker, Bo Diddley, Floyd Cramer, Chet Atkins and more. No wonder their singles were prominent on John Lennon's jukebox.

  11. @Elliot
    " Night Owl Blues " baby !

  12. Loved this story! EVERY time I hear " Summer in the City" I have to listen to it in its entirety. Even in the winter I get warm with memories.

  13. I just recently revisited the Village as I have done periodically over the years. Back then, I lived on Grove Street from 1964 to 1967 in a $60 a month rent-controlled apartment. Gallery openings provided food AND wine. There were numerous affordable bistros and eateries. Jazz clubs were in full swing. Chumley's was mysterious. Parties galore, where you had to contribute $1 or $2 to cover whatever food or wine or pot were available. Washington Square Park a little seedy and buzzing with street performers. The coffee houses, the bohemians, the starving artists. Now that the oligarchs have taken over, that Village is gone. Still, at the tender age of 80, as John Sebastian said, "I'll never leave the Village." It defined my life and the way I live today.

  14. Off off B’way theaters.

  15. I just want to give a shout out to Bob Brainen @ wfmu and Terry Adams, champions of the genre.

  16. How easy it is to listen to "Summer in the City" and instantly be transported to that summer of teen angst, long backyard tanning sessions and political upheaval. I remember how the song played on the radio and the line: "Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty" stood out and made sense in the sweltering summer heat.

    This song stood out. It's a kind of summer anthem and it's a paean to a time when music was special, well-written and performed, and the youth of America paid attention to every beat or nuance.

    We listened. We cared. And, it made us want to conquer the world.

  17. Nice pic of Sebastian today standing on his stoop as an attractive young woman with her dog walks by probably not even knowing whom she's passing.

  18. @AlNewman Could the girl be his granddaughter? Does the photo contain a story within a story, just outside our ken?

  19. @Lorri, You’re absolutely right. The photo is a perfect visual exclamation of how Sebastian’s Village belongs to another era. As he said in the article, “We all have our turn.”

  20. @AlNewman
    It's posed, they both have bemused expressions. Works for me though.

  21. For me, Summer in the City evokes for me, walking on a very hot Eighth Street in the Village with a friend who had just revealed to me in pre-legal abortion days, that she was pregnant.

  22. What a fantastic story.. John was one of the musical geniuses of hte 60s

  23. This was a really beautiful piece. Fantastic job.

  24. Great article but I have to ask how someone becomes a "classical" harmonica player? I'm not saying it isn't possible, I just can't imagine Mozart, Brahms or Beethoven leaving room in one of their pieces for an harmonic break. Amadeus: "take it away Stevie".

  25. Check out Toots Thielemans and Larry Adler if you want to hear the epitome of "classical harmonica". And in T T's case, jazz and lots of movie soundtracks. Amazing musician.

  26. Walking through the crowd at Jones Beach, never out of earshot of "Summer in the City" playing on radios everywhere. The main vehicle of pop/rock music was top 40 AM radio, and we all listened to the same thing even if the country was starting to shatter over Nam and civil rights. A few years later I saw John Sebastian at Woodstock - he was great, but the music scene had changed dramatically. We were now listening to FM and buying albums not singles. The Beatles and the Stones evolved, sadly the Spoonful didn't.

  27. A lovely, well-sourced reminiscence about -- among other things -- a band that may have enjoyed commercial success but was never somehow cool enough for the era's nascent taste-makers. What band do I return to when I want to enjoy great pop music from this era? Jefferson Airplane? Quicksilver Messenger Service? The Dead? Gimme a break.

  28. They all had their high and low points. Some songs better or worse than others. Saw and heard many live and still own the stuff. IMO Lovin Spoonful's best or John Sebastian's holds up easily as well if not better than the two groups you cite... and dude I listened in real time as well as long after. BTW the Beatles, Stones and Beach Boys sold a lot of records too.

  29. sorry for the typo.... "like ringing a bell"

  30. @FrankDiscussion and @Just a Thought - About 1966 I took my younger, preteen sister to a concert to see her favorite band - the Monkeys. Guess who warmed up the crowd before the Monkeys took the stage? - Jimi Hendrix! What a night that was!

  31. @LNW 1967: Central Park.

  32. New York, New York, for a brief moment in time you were the place to be.

  33. @Larry Dickman
    And now Brooklyn is the place to be. Just a river and a world away.

  34. @Larry Dickman For a long moment in time

  35. Cold comment, dude. Lighten up.

  36. In July 1966, a month before Charles Whitman took aim from that tower in Austin, a wanderer named Richard Speck killed 8 nurses in Chicago.

  37. Terrific history of a great song and a great band. "Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful" is a wonderfully diverse and knowing assortment of roots and rock; a favorite of mine. One of my favorite John Sebastian songs is "It's Not Time Now", from the "Daydream" album, a beautiful lyric and melody about anger and reconciliation. It's hard to underestimate the full measure of the influence of the Lovin' Spoonful.

  38. @Bob Mellman

  39. Thank you Thomas Murray. I was out on my bicycle after I submitted the comment, and thought, “Uh-oh!” Obviously, I meant that it’s EASY to underestimate the full measure of their importance. I hope I got a few points for “Full Measure”.

  40. Knew I’d made a mistake with “underestimate” as soon as I sent. But, then it was too late. Hope I get a full points for my “Full Measure” reference.

  41. Good and interesting article.

    But I was too young to apprecait ethat tiem, although the song still sounds good.

    My time was over a decade later and the world had moved on. For me a defining moment was seeing the Clash at the Palladium, Sept. 20, 1979.

  42. @Sam...that was their first show in NY, I think. Bo Diddley opened. There were blinding yellow lights shining into the audience from the stage.

    There were plenty of musical "firsts" during that period. The Clash's debut wasn't nearly as good as Prince's.

  43. Those of us who grew up in the New York City of those days were the luckiest people.

    I will be forever grateful.

  44. I still own the 45 of "Summer in the City." 1966 was a great year for music all around.

  45. Waiting to enter the military in 1966, I spent numerous evenings at the Nite Owl, listening to the Spoonful, wondering what direction my life would take. Like The Blues Magoos, Blues Project, Strangers and many, many other bands playing around the Village at that time, I perceived them as wonderful, NYC groups. Months later, Isolated on an Air Force base in New Mexico, hearing Summer in the City on the radio brought home a little bit closer.

  46. Wonderful article about a beautiful time. If you believe in magic we can do it all over again.

  47. Oh to the sheer adrenaline rush of that song and all the joy and ferocity it conjures! The Village, like NYC and America itself, has always been a state of mind. We hold onto the ideal even as the furniture changes.

    The great Dennis Potter once said popular music was the soundtrack of our lives. This is a perfect example.

  48. Going to high school at LaSalle on 2nd Street & 2nd Ave. allowed a “kid” from Queens to be exposed to so much transforming me into the person I am today.
    We used to see people like Bob Dylan and all these performers on the streets every day!
    Does anyone remember the Filmore East? How about St. Mark’s place?

  49. @Robert Arena-of course I remember them like the Cafe Wha? later to be Cafe Feejon. How about the Other End, next door to the Dugout, a fave bar with peanut shells all over the floor. I met Cass Elliot when she was with the Big Three at the Wha?

  50. "hotter than a match head"!

    1966 was arguably the greatest year of Bob Dylan's career, the year he finished the trilogy of Bringing It All Back Home (1965), Highway 61 (1965) and Blonde on Blonde (1966)
    which included "I Want You," "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat," "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again," and
    "Just Like a Woman."

    Thanks again Bob!

    Thanks New York City...always!

  51. I cannot think of any other song that evokes my teenage memories of growing up in the Bronx during the mid 60's as does "Summer in the City."
    The funny thing though is I just checked out the lyrics, and where the song lyric is "hotter than a match head," I always heard it as "huddled around a match," which seemed somehow more descriptive of my teenage friends lighting up around a cigarette.
    The other word in the song I obviously misinterpreted was from the line, "Cool cat, looking for a kitty," which my 16 YO ears heard as "Cool cat, looking for a biddie," which, at that time, was a common slang term for a girl.

  52. I too always heard it as “huddled ‘round a matchstick”! Wonderful article and equally wonderful comments!!

  53. I was 16 in '66 … the perfect age for a tall skinny kid with ever lengthening hair to be affected and influenced by everything. The Spoonful were my first concert .. Carnegie Hall. They were great. You could feel their personalities and they could play.
    I was spending a lot of time with my guitar trying to write songs and John's stuff was a real influence. I grew long sideburns the next summer that were not permitted in high school. It all makes me smile now.

  54. I remember that summer well and the song all too well. I was a freshman in high school and got a summer job at the long-gone A&P on North Broad Street, in Elizabeth, N.J. I was working in the butcher shop basically cleaning up. It was freezing in there. They had wood floors in the shop and the floors were always covered with fresh saw dust that was kept in big plastic bags. The saw dust absorbed the blood from the meat cuttings and when the saw dust got too stained it was my job to sweep it up and put new saw dust down. One day while the butchers were grinding meat for hamburgers one of them said to the other guy, "Hey this batch is light on the scale." So the other butcher took a handful of saw dust from the bag and mixed it in with the chopped meat until it hit the desired weight. I was shocked. I knew my mom bought our chopped meat there and after work that day I went home and told her what happened and asked her never to buy our hamburger meat at that store again. Little did I know she called the store manager and related my tale. Next day when I came to work I was escorted by the manager not to the butcher shop but back to the loading dock. In the 90-degree heat my new job for the rest of the summer was unloading the trucks that brought food and produce to the store. So from the wonderful coolness of the butcher shop I literally went into the frying pan outside. That was my summer in the city, 1966.

  55. the soundtrack of my youth.. hot town summer in the city.. and the rascals too.. groovin on a summer afternoon.. that stoop i knew so well.. bleeker st. washington sq. st. mark's.. day's long gone but the memories never fade..

  56. Oh my! Gotta love the NY Times. What a surprise to be reading through the site and come across this article about one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite artists! I've been in love with John Sebastian since I was 13 years old -- back in 1968. In fact, I just saw him perform recently at the Tarrytown Music Hall where he did a charming solo set. And, as someone who lived in the Village for many years, thank you for those great photos!

  57. Hey guys, let me weigh in here about a great time that, like Woody once sang, "comes with the dust and gone with the wind".
    I have vivid memories of working the summer in East Hampton as a waiter at Chez Labbat while in college, a year or so before the Spoonful hit their stride. The music scene was vibrant, many clubs with bands each night. Joe Butler and his band played about every night of the week at different joints, and when we got out of work, off we would go to find music, often following Butler's band. He had a great band, some originals, but many in your face covers to get the crowd dancing. Midnight Hour was one of them! Hey Joe, do you remember tearing up at OOTWI in Bridgehampton?(Out of This World Inn). As I recall, I think Skip Boone was in the band as well.
    The years have now piled up, I guess we were all so much older then, younger than that now!
    Turn the radio up!

  58. What happened to Mark?

  59. @Caroline
    He lives in LA and is still writing songs.

  60. "London was over..." and then came Cream, Jimi Hendrix (a Village refugee), and some of the Beatle's best albums, Led Zeppelin too

  61. I love the photo of Eleanor Roosevelt's apartment. An unexpected bonus to an absolutely wonderful article. Bravo!

  62. Summer of 66, HS Senior in Western NY, when everyone I knew was anticipating college, the military, getting laid for the first time or all three in my case. Spoonful and Hendrix produced our main anthems that were buffers against aberrant civilization and personal insanities.
    But where was The Music coming from beyond the radio transmission? At long last we know so 'thanks for your service' ..

  63. Among the many things that made that era so special--and yes, I'm not forgetting the main one, NYC was affordable then--was that you could still see, often for very little money, the (re)discovered blues and folk musicians who had inspired groups like the Lovin' Spoonful in the first place. Not to mention great musicians from, for instance, every generation of Jazz, born from the 1880s into the 1940s, and some of the jazz modernists would jam with people who were mainly painters or poets but wanted to sit in. And there were still giants of modern classical music like Stravinsky living. All this, and a lot more, was swirling around together constantly in NYC. And it didn't occur to people that it would never be like that again.

  64. 'Inside Llewyn Davis' from the Cohn bros provides a great snapshot of the era.

  65. 1966 Lovin' Spoonful? "Darling Be Home Soon." A gorgeous song...

  66. @DCBinNYC . one of the best...

  67. @DCBinNYC
    I agree.

  68. In the summer of 1988 I happened into a bar in Vancouver’s Gastown, and found John Sebastian playing his songs. There were only a few dozen of us there. My campanion was Japanese, and she didn’t grasp why this was serendipity.

  69. Ha! I lived in the Abert in 65 and my brother from 60-63. I remember they had a French restaurant on the 11th Street side, with a small replica Eiffel Tower in front. As part of your meal you could take a bus tour of Greenwich Village. It was a yellow former school bus, the driver was a short Black guy wearing a beret (get it? Village, Beatniks, beret?). The diners, could gawk at the patrons of the coffee houses on Bleecker and gasp at interracial couples. Something to tell folks back home.

  70. My 45 of “Summer in the City” is still sitting in the basement of my Mom’s house. I bought the disc and played it over and over back then. This article was great fun to read.

  71. Great article! Although “Summer in the City” is the signature song for Sebastian and The Lovin’ Spoonful, I think Sebastian’s greatest piece, often overlooked, is “The Four of Us.”

  72. @J.Thank you for mentioning The Four of Us. I listened to that in the car for a year and a half after it came out. Where are you, Lashes Larue?

  73. Well that’s the best thing I’ve read this year. You can still feel that Village. But barely. This brought it viscerally.

  74. @Sean
    Wow! Thank you, Sean.

  75. Thank you for this. I was born in 1965, and the soundtrack to my infancy was the Lovin Spoonful, the Beatles and the Mamas and the Papas. To this day their music stirs up in me security, nostalgia and love.

  76. Great article and pictures. Interesting to read recollections from Steve Boone and Joe Butler and what life and the music business was like in the Village in '66.

  77. wonderful article and photos- i was there--and i am still there-
    though i moved to san francisco in 1970- i never left. so nice to know so many other folks feel the same-

  78. Thanks for this! A very welcome respite from reading about you know who & what.

    Loving Spoonful was a fave of mine in high school and after although I didn't get to see them perform live. Still have my high school era vinyl "best of" LP and it brings back memories listening...

    Digital music is a fine convenience and the ability to access virtually anything at any time is great, but "give me that old time music, whether jug band or rhythm and blues..." on an LP with a 12x12 album cover to look at while playing on a decent stereo and it can take you away... "if you believe in magic".

  79. You HAD to be there and I was. I was going into my senior year of high school in Brooklyn NY and was hanging in the Village all of the time. I think it was one of the best summers of my life. The Albert Hotel was a very interesting place. I was just turning 18 and my best friend got pregnant there. It was insane. My god daughter just turned 51!

  80. The Spoonful was one and still is one of my favorite bands. Too bad they where ill managed so they could not be in the studio and create more great music. Beside "Summer in the City" my favorite is "Darling be Home Soon". Sebastian has been active on Public TV and it is always a joy to see him. I wish him and the the rest of the Group well and long life.

  81. @Climatedoc As soon as I finished this article “Darling Be Home Soon” crept in as an ear worm. The Spoonful had so many great catchy tunes in such a short time.

  82. Yes, I have read this story several times the year to date, but from different sources. There seems to be renewed interest in this history of both New York and pop music. Still, an enlightening story.

  83. Ok. I love this story.

  84. back in the day, there was a song by Mamas and Papas called "Creque SP? Alley" this article gives it context. Started humming the song as I was reading through this.

  85. @Barry Yep, Creeque Alley is another earworm.

  86. God, I miss the 60’s.

  87. If you miss them, you probably weren't around then. I don't know anybody in their right mind who misses race riots or the Vietnam War that were tearing the country apart.

  88. Hard to read this and not recall the song “Creque Alley” by the Mamas and the Papas.

    Zally said "Denny, you know there aren't many
    Who can sing a song the way that you do, let's go south"
    Denny said "Zally, golly, don't you think that I wish
    I could play guitar like you"
    Zal, Denny and Sebastian sat (At the Night Owl)
    And after every number they'd pass the hat...

  89. Great article--really brings me back to that time, riding home on the bus from school, in that brutal humid heat, hearing Summer in the City pouring out of car radios around me, sweating profusely. Extra added plus for the photo of Cafe Figaro, my home away from home where I would drink endless cups of coffee, smoke, read, and watch people play chess ah! if only I could spend one day back there...

  90. In addition to the jackhammers and blaring car horns, Hallee looked everywhere and finally found a stairwell in a brownstone somewhere in town. He used it to record the massive, echoing drum strike at the beginning of Summer In the City. Unfortunately it just doesn’t sound the same with modern digital sound.

  91. Driving home two days ago in 90 degree heat, Summer in the City came on my radio. Immediately engaged, I was surprised at the production and how fresh it still sounds 50 years later.

  92. Love this article! It brought me back. I still have my vinyl Daydream album and it still sounds great. Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end...

  93. There was something about JohnSebastian's smile that really set him apart...seemed really genuine and exuded good will...thanks John

  94. Loved this article! The photos, the memories, the feelings. Summer of 66, I graduated high school, college ahead, had my driver's license and "Summer in the City" was on the radio. Loved the Spoonful. I'll always associate the song with driving into the city on a hot night with it blasting on the radio and feeling soooo free. Thanks for a wonderful article!

  95. This article really brought back those golden days of youth and luckily for us, great music.

    I've always loved the Spoonful. They hadn't degenerated into self-love or hate.

  96. I was only 13, but mostly free to roam from our school on Hudson Street to...wherever, and we careened around the Village...West and East. Everything was new and exciting especially music, the Spoonful were huge on the “playlist” if only from a turntable. A couple of times friends spotted one or two of them on the street and I remember trying in vain to find them again along Mcdougal or wherever. Drugs hadn’t entered my life yet and that would bring inevitable change and challenges. I love this article and the time capsule it opens.

  97. St. Luke’s? I was 12 and wandering same streets. Managed to track down all 4 of their residences closer to Hudson Street than Mcdougal and ran into them repeatedly... They were our “hometown band” who made it big beyond reality. I’m glad they have been part of my life and I love JBS’s closing comment - the Village I knew is long gone and so am I but it’s still mine.

  98. I enjoyed reading this brilliant article about the origins of a very unique summer song that represents NYC perfectly. It was amazing that Mark Sebastian was only fifteen years old when he co-wrote this classic!

  99. It's great to see that John Sebatian still has the same mutton chop sideburns albeit now gray. I think the article may have downplayed what a terrific musician he was.

    And Joe Marra may have eventually presented James Taylor but I don't think he would have been known for that in Feb. 1965.

  100. @Steve You're right, John Sebastian is a consummate musician and James Taylor was a little later on the scene, but I included him as part of Joe Marra's history to demonstrate his acumen and the importance of the Night Owl Cafe in the 1960s. I highly recommend watching this entertaining video on him, in commemoration of his 85th birthday, made by Bruce Stanbery:

  101. Thank you for replying!

  102. John Sebastian played at my college in 1977. I got to interview him for our college radio station (my very first interview!) and he couldn't have been more gracious. I still listen to his epic "The Four of Us."

  103. @Mr. Florentino

    The Four of Us. You are correct, sir, truly an epic , tho not well known, and under-appreciated. I originally had the lp, which has been lost to history. Several years ago, I bought a Japanese produced cd. It still sounds grand. I forget who the other couple were. Can you advise?

  104. The summer of 1966, I was between 11th and 12th grade. Growing up on Long Island, you had to be 18 to get your driver's license. But you could get one at 17 if you took driver's ed. The high school offered driver's ed in summer school, and of course all us 17 year olds took driver's ed that summer. "Summer in the City" was on the radio a lot and will always remind me of taking driver's ed in the summer of 1966.

  105. @N I grew up on Long Island too. It was the same for me and so many of us!

  106. You must have lived in Nassau county. I was in Suffolk and had mine at 16, no drivers Ed required.

  107. Wonderful story and many poignant comments! I was there, but I must add, that for a fifteen year old at the time, besides, loving Summer in The City, which evoked the heat like a jackhammer, I have to add, that The Theme From a Summer Place, by Steiner, played by Percy Faith and his Orchestra, does a darn great job of evoking The Summertime too! Albeit, a lot more milder and melodic!

  108. "New York, would be center of a brief pop rock moment"By 1966 all the New York Folkies and the session musicians
    had moved to LA, so it was brief. " Summer in the
    City", one of the hardest driving rock songs ever written, after
    52 years does not sound dated at all.

  109. A great 60's rock song also beautifully covered by B. B. King on his 1972 Guess Who album. Five decades later they both are as fresh and cool as ever!

  110. @Henry Martinez Thanks for pointing it out -- B. B. King totally makes it work as a blues song!

  111. Great article. Talk about Memory Lane.

  112. Ah! The lucky people that will be able to attend the concert!

    As a high school graduate of 1966, I can say there is no other song that takes me back to my then boyfriend, a “hot town, summer in the city” with him. Then off to college for me and the whole thing was over, except for hearing the song through the years and still - over 40 years later.

    Who’d think?

  113. We have the heat and we have the nation on edge. All we need are more, many, many more riots and protests.

  114. "Summer in the City" always pops in my head on a hot and humid day. Love it! and the full story of the song and Sebastian family musicians. Back in the 90s, I met Mark Sebastian at Caffè Pane e Cioccolato on Waverly Place. The hostess Anna told me that the Sebastians' father had been a diplomat and had a big apartment on Washington Square Park. Love their music! Don't know how they could stand the grungy basement living quarters as band members. For what big stars go through, they deserve their success.

  115. Minus endless onerous name dropping aside, splendid spoonful.

  116. Great article, great comments. Thanks everyone.

  117. Great writeup with photos to match.

  118. ‘Revolver’ was released on 5 August, 1966.

    “Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name. Nobody came.”

    Happiness is still a warm gun.

  119. Great article. Many thanks.

  120. Time to dig out my Lovin' Spoonful music book from the late 1960s and try to believe in magic again...

  121. From rural Oklahoma (born in Okemah, Oklahoma — Woody’s hometown; my father was in his class in school), I understood “Summer in the City” long before I was ever in New York. The song is universal!!! I was 21 in 1966. Lovin’ Spoonful was my absolute favorite. Others have more fame and longevity, but meteoric quality still wins out.

  122. .
    Steve was in our class at East Hampton High School. We are a close group and have a reunion each and every year.
    We track our Steve closely and see his shows at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead, 25 miles away.

  123. Wow, Dennis, you must be so special. You know someone who used to be semi-famous 50 years ago.

  124. Who came up with the opening piano riff?

  125. In the summer '66 I was a VDC [vacation day camp] teacher thru the Board Ed at P.S. 113, 113th St. & 7th Avenue. Drove up from Brooklyn singing Summer in the City with the teacher in charge, the late Marty Blansky, who was later implicated and cleared of financial wrongdoing involving Chancellor Alvarado.
    Don't recall the 34 days of 90+ temp. but the good times I had with the kids .
    Those were the days, my friend, I thought they'd never end. But they did.

  126. Just moved from 9th and University, one block from The Albert, to out of state...many thanks for the 'period correct' and delightful visit back to the era and 'The Village'.

  127. Loved the Spoonful! I'd sing "Daydream" (poorly) any day it was sunny and I was ambling and free.
    Went to see John Sebastian solo at Carnegie hall--we tried to sneak a bottle of bubbly in under my friends coat--and it popped open as we walked past the ticket taker. Quite the celebratory time!
    Thanks to the band for the happy memories....

  128. Thank you Julie Besonen. A very enjoyable read and it made me feel better than anything else in the paper recently

  129. And anyone out there who's a parent and has heard John Sebastian sing," You're A Big Boy Now", knows what it's all about. My kid loves when I play it.

  130. Absolutely!

  131. ‘Summer in the City’ captured the feeling of New York summer. Thanks for the trip in the way back machine and for the reminder of the genius of the Spoonful and ensuring their legacy. I was a few month away from completing my studies and the end of my student deferment. Music provided an important distraction. I was also reminded of the intense heat of the summer of 1966. I remember the temperature exceeding 100 and the transit authority raising the price of a token from 15 to 20 cents while many people where cooling it at the beach.

  132. I was only three that summer & my parents didn't listen to rock or pop, so it wasn't until I was in my early teens w/my own radio that I started to hear all of the great '60s music. This song is still one of my favorites & necessitates the car radio being turned up enough to make the steering wheel rattle. The imagery evoked in the lyrics is so detailed & vivid, even for someone who's just seen pictures of NYC in the '60s.

  133. John Sebastian says, “I hear Woody Guthrie singing and playing, and in my total infancy I thought, “
    ‘He’s not as good as Dad.’ It’s not a memory I’m proud of.” Huh? That sounds to me like a memory any good son should be extremely proud of. What a stupid comment!

  134. Back in 1966 I was in the basement copying Clapton, Beck and Page with my Goya Rangemaster, 10 Watt Ampeg cranked to 11 and a Gibson Fuzz Box. A Les Paul and a Marshall Stack was out of my paper-route income range.
    Anyway, I thought the Lovin' Spoonful was teeny-bopper music, even at age 11. So imagine my surprise to later find out that Summer In The City inspired Clapton to write Tales of Brave Ulysses which then mutated into White Room.
    Now if only John Sebastian had used a Wah-Wah pedal through a Marshall Stack history would have been changed forever ...