Photo Credit: Greg Chow
In addition to handling keyboard duties for Southern alt-rockers Drive-By Truckers, Athens musician Jay Gonzalez is an accomplished songwriter and multi-instrumentalist with an enduring love of MOR pop. For his seasonal residency on the Georgia Theatre Rooftop, he digs deep into his vast catalog of feel-good cover tunes to provide a sultry soundtrack for summer nights. At Flagpole’s urging, he put together the following mixtape of some personal favorites from his repertoire. Grab the streaming link below, and whip this playlist out at your next hazy backyard hang. [Gabe Vodicka]
John Sebastian: “Welcome Back”
I grew up, like most kids, watching sitcoms, but while I’ve forgotten the plot of pretty much every show I’ve ever watched, I’ve been influenced by the theme songs as much as, if not more than, what was on the radio. This one’s not necessarily a summery song, but I open every season of shows on the rooftop with it.
Dolly Parton: “Here You Come Again”
Pure sunshine that gets better with every key it jumps up. It’s a fun piano song to play, but it takes everything in my power not to get derailed by the hundreds of chords squeezed in there by classic songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.
Chicago: “Saturday in the Park”
It’s a pretty straightforward description of a summer day that gets kinda surreal when it hits the bridge (“Slow motion riders fly the colors of the day/ A bronze man still can tell stories his own way…”).
Steve Forbert: “Romeo’s Tune”
A beautiful and breezy tune that almost always gets a good reaction when pulled out at shows. “Lemme smell the moon in your perfume…”
Eddie Rabbitt: “I Love a Rainy Night”
My mom had a huge crush on Eddie Rabbitt, so as a kid we had the record with this and “Driving My Life Away” on it. An infectious tune with finger snaps and a killer guitar solo.
Seals and Crofts: “Summer Breeze”
I’m obliged to put this one on the list, though it sounds more like a late-fall “end of the season” song, what with the creepy minor-y toy piano and the lush “aah”s in the verses.
Lindsay Buckingham: “Holiday Road”
This classic ’80s theme from National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation can be a rousing, almost transcendent singalong number with the right crowd. It can also be a pretty sad scene when no one’s up for the gang vocals and I’m bellowing “holiday ro-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oad” all by my lonesome.
Jay Ferguson: “Thunder Island”
An epic soft-rock hit about getting it on in the grass and on the beach out on Thunder Island. Joe Walsh plays the main guitar riff. Ferguson is sometimes considered a one-hit wonder, despite the fact that he was the singer for influential '60s rock group Spirit—who had a No. 25 hit with “I Got a Line On You”—and later composed the theme song to the American version of “The Office.”
JAY GONZALEZ Drive-By Truckers' keyboardist plays your favorite AM Gold, singer-songwriter, power-pop, British Invasion, originals and TV theme songs. See story on p. 12.