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It’s Summertime!

Now that the hockey season is officially over, there is only one major sport that is capturing the nation’s attention: baseball! I find that baseball is synonymous with summer, as it’s been played in the summer months for generations. I’m sure I’m not alone recalling warm summer evenings spent gathered around the radio listening to a hometown announcer with a glass of lemonade in hand.

But summer is much more than our national pastime. It’s also vacations to the shore, time off from school, and, of course, ice cream. In the spirit of summer officially beginning next week (and it definitely feeling like summer here in the Nation’s Capital), here are some tunes that will hopefully inspire your summer:

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

This classic Tin Pan Alley tune, written by Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer (younger brother of Harry von Tilzer, who gave Irving Berlin his early start in songwriting), was written in 1908 as baseball fever swept through the country. Interestingly, the original lyrics were meant to be sung by a woman who, although her date insists on taking her to a show, would like to go to a baseball game instead.

Available in braille in The Great Big Book of Children’s Songs (BRM36188) and in large print in Standards and Showtunes (LPM00779).

The cover of the sheet music to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Sheet Music, 1908. Library of Congress, Music Division.

The cover of the sheet music to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Sheet Music, 1908. Library of Congress, Music Division.

“Summer Nights” from Grease

“Summer Nights” was a hit song from the movie-musical Grease. It was recorded by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, the stars of the movie. Along with this song, the movie had three other singles that reached the top ten in the summer of 1978, including “Grease,” “You’re the One that I Want,” and “Hopelessly Devoted to You.”

Available in braille at BRM25325 and in the Grease collection at BRM32341

“Under the Boardwalk”

This song was recorded by The Drifters in 1964. Tragically, their current lead singer, Rudy Lewis, passed away the night before it was to be recorded. Former Drifters front man Johnny Moore was asked to perform the lead vocals, which he did. The song went on to be a hit that summer, and is still heard on the radio today.

Available in braille in The 666 Fake Song Book (BRM24360, vol. 26), for ukulele in The Daily Ukulele (BRM35979, vol. 11), and in audio instruction for guitar at DBM03177.

“In the Good Old Summer Time”

This is another classic Tin Pan Alley tune written in 1902. It was featured in a 1949 Judy Garland film that shares the same name as the song. The lyrics evoke the laid back feeling most of us hope to enjoy over the summer months:

“There’s a time in each year
That we always hold dear,
Good old summer time;
With the birds and the trees-es,
And sweet scented breezes,
Good old summer time,
When your day’s work is over
Then you are in clover,
And life is one beautiful rhyme”

Available in braille in Legit Fake Book (BRM22705) and in large print in Big-Note Carnival: Eighteen Famous Melodies (LPM00400).

Trade ad for The Drifters' single "Saturday Night At The Movies." Photograph, 1964. Public Domain.

Trade ad for The Drifters’ single “Saturday Night At The Movies.” Photograph, 1964. Public Domain.

Lastly, here are some other summer-themed books that might be of interest:

  • In the Good Old Summertime - Not teaching the song, but has “thoughts and music of summertime. ‘June is Bustin’ Out All Over’ and Aaron Copland’s The Outdoor Overture with words are heard” (DBM00841)
  • Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons DBM02887
  • Theme from Summer of ’42, Gershwin, and Others (LPM00399)

And, speaking of George Gershwin, who could forget his evocative song ”Summertime” from Porgy and Bess? We have an instructional course for the alto saxophone on that song at DBM02371. A braille version for voice and piano is available at BRM28250 and a piano solo version is available at BRM22878.

So stay cool out there and learn some new tunes!

An American Classic: Irving Berlin

We’ve discussed show-tunes, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook on the blog before, but we have yet to talk about perhaps one of the most influential composers of American standards: Irving Berlin, who happens to celebrate his 129th birthday today. Along with penning a few Broadway scores, including the score for Annie Get Your Gun, […]

Over the Rainbow, and More: Part 2

This is a continuation of my survey of songs recently added to the LOC’s National Recording Registry, indicating where they may be found in the NLS music collection. (Note that Over the Rainbow was covered in last week’s blog.) Puttin’ on the Ritz Harry Richmond’s 1929 recording of this Irving Berlin song was added to […]

Over the Rainbow, and More: Part 1

Every year, 25 recordings are added to the LOC’s National Recording registry, recordings that are considered “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The purpose of this blog is not to list all 25 of them, but to highlight those where the song is part of the NLS Music collection. Most of these items may be downloaded […]

Good Friday

The following post is from John Hanson, former Section Head of the NLS Music Section. Tomorrow is Good Friday. It is a major Christian holiday marking Jesus’ crucifixion. “Holiday” seems a little too joyful a term given its origin.  But the stock market is closed. Wall Street has a holiday. For me, growing up, Good Friday was […]

Ganne, Alford, Holst, and Others: Music of World War I

This April marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. The Library of Congress is commemorating that significant anniversary with exhibits, publications, and other various activities. As part of this commemoration, the NLS Music Section was asked to provide braille music for blind visitors. While going through the collection, we […]

Celebrating Black Composers

In honor of Black History Month, this blog post will highlight materials in the music section that are written by or about African American composers. These composers wrote in many styles, including popular, Western classical, jazz, gospel, and more. Here is some music by three Black composers that we have available in our collection. Harry […]

An Interview with Stephanie Pieck, Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with Stephanie Pieck. Q) Explaining your teaching philosophy, you wrote, “I faced many instances in which the general opinion was that a blind person couldn’t learn. But I also had many very dedicated teachers who knew this wasn’t true; all that was needed was a different way to […]

An Interview with Stephanie Pieck, Part 1

I am excited to share my interview with Stephanie Pieck, a pianist, teacher, and an NLS patron. Stephanie received her bachelor’s degree in piano performance from Ithaca College and maintains a private music studio in New York. Q) How old were you when you started playing the piano? What motivated you to start playing? A) […]