Saturday, June 20, 2020

Summertime (Doin' TIme)

Summertime (Doin’ Time)

Summertime, and the living’s easy…

The lyrics in the verses definitely do not match that statement. When I first heard the song “Doin’ Time” (the original of the “Summertime” version most people know) I felt the lyrics were super conflicted between the chorus and verses. I was in high school circa 2007, at the heart of my Summer of Sublime. It felt like essentially every time I hung out with my best friend Liam “Big Lee” McCarthy, we would end up listening to and/or jamming on some Sublime songs. Both being singers, songwriters, and guitar players in our teenage and rebellious phase, we drew a lot of inspiration from Sublime’s leader Bradley Nowell. So when I heard the lyrics in the verses of “Doin’ Time,” I felt bad for Bradley.

The three verses reflect an agonizing relationship between him and a woman who seems to be doing everything she can to cause Brad pain. She’s running around having sex with a lot of other people, so much so that he doesn’t even get to do so with her. It makes him feel like he’s going through one of the worst experiences anyone can go through: being stuck in jail or prison (really don’t recommend going there, avoid it at all costs). This woman is driving him so mad, he feels like he wants to drown her…yet the chorus cooly proclaims…

Summertime, and the living’s easy

That didn’t match up at all with the tumultuous relationship that he described he was going through. I always thought those sets of lyrics in the verses and chorus seemed in direct contrast with each other, and I let that opinion lie for about 13 years. Then I heard Lana Del Ray’s version of it. I respect Lana as a musician that has made it and turned her dreams into realities in the music and entertainment industries. That being said, I was a bit dismayed at her cover of “Doin’ Time.” She barely changed anything! She even still sang “Bradley’s on the microphone…” Lana, your name and Bradley’s have the same syllables! Her version could easily have been spun into a version more about her relationships, her city, and her life. But it wasn’t. Rather than complain about it, I did something about it.

Lana’s version gave me that final kick I needed to alter the lyrics in a way that matched up with the chorus. I did my best to completely flip the lyrics on their head. Instead of describing a relationship that was a negative influence on the narrator, I wanted to create something as close to the exact opposite of that as I could. In that sense I flipped the script of a sad story into a love song. The goal was to produce lyrical content that described a really beautiful, passionate, and loving relationship for the verses. For the chorus instead of singing about “The LBC” of Long Beach California, I rewrote them to apply to the city where I live in at this time of writing: Denver, Colorado. With that in mind, I wanted the content and context for the music video to be shots taken from one of my favorite sections of the city: RiNo. 

The strip of the River North district on Larimer Street from about 25th to 36th is one of my favorite parts of Den. Huge murals, graffiti, and a ton of street art covers basically every building down there. Just in that section of the city there has to be about a dozen craft breweries. Also, a borderline sanctuary for me is housed down there. RocketSpace is an hourly rehearsal studio that has allowed me to practice parts for various instruments and songs at full volume (something not allowed in a 1 bedroom apartment). I first practiced “Doin’ Time ” on the kit they have set up in the upstairs drum room. From Room #7 and the 5 piece kit up there, the song grew musically.

I’m changing the lyrics, why not the music too? I ended up adding a reggae feel to the verses, a Pink Floyd like approach to the chords in the chorus, added a bit of a drum and bass feature, and a ska section with a short solo before going into the last chorus. 

The single dropped today on the Summer Solstice! Click Here to give it a listen


  • 2 GUITARS (1 electric and 1 acoustic)
  • 1 KEYBOARD TRACK (with a Vibraphone setting)
  • TOTAL=8 tracks recorded in 2 hours

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