Summer Breaking

Album: Uptown Special (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist behind 2000's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, wrote the majority of Uptown Special's lyrics. Ronson told The Sun that he recruited Chabon for the album after he, "wrote a really nice letter." He explained: "I first met Michael after I went to a book signing. He did for his book Telegraph Avenue."

    "He recognized me and told me he liked some of my music, Ronson continued. "So a year later, I wrote him a letter and luckily, I caught him at a time when it wasn't too crazy."
  • This song took four drafts to get right. "He's one of the great living American novelists and it's tough to be like, 'Uh, we don't really like this one, could we try it again?'" Ronson told Billboard magazine.
  • Uptown Special was written and produced with producer Jeff Bhasker. "I sought Jeff Bhasker out because I loved the song 'Try Sleeping With a Broken Heart' that he wrote and produced for Alicia Keys," Ronson explained to The Guardian. "Plus I also dug all his chords and synths on Kanye's 808's & Heartbreak. In his music, I could hear someone who equally loved hip-hop, Earth Wind & Fire and even a bit of weird prog. He's also a Berklee-trained jazz pianist... needless to say, a major dude."
  • This song came about when Ronson met Bhasker in his house in Venice, LA to start working on the album. "One night, he left early and I wrote the chords and melody to this song," said Ronson. "It's something way more complex than anything I've done before, I don't really even know the names of the chords – they just sort of came out of me. I think I was trying to write something I thought would impress Jeff, because I wanted him to think I was good or worthy or something as it was early on. Michael then wrote the lyrics and Kevin [Parker, vocalist] made it cool."
  • The song is sung by Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, one of three Uptown Special tracks that features his vocals. Ronson told The Guardian how the collaboration with the Australian came about. "I loved their band and would always see them play in London. We talked about doing some kind of side project, which never materialized," he said. "And then [Kevin] sent me this demo of a funk record he'd been working on. It didn't even have a name and it was just so cool."

    "When I started working on my album, I had some ideas for some songs and kept hearing his voice in my head," Ronson continued. "I asked if he would come down to Memphis and just hang out. Obviously he's in one of the biggest bands in the world; they're always touring and I think their album had just been named in every single best album of the year list. So for him to take a week out of his life to come to Memphis was pretty awesome."

    "Not only did he sing the songs," he added, "just having him around – the way he plays drums, his voice on background harmonies, all the little touches that he added – just made everything a little bit cooler and better."
  • Rolling Stone photographer Theo Wenner put together a double-barreled video that includes both this song and "Daffodils." Both tunes feature vocals by Kevin Parker. The clip reflects the different nature of the songs with a lazy summer afternoon and images of California sunsets transitioning into nighttime scenes of partying and meetings in back alleys. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Ronson said:

    "'Summer Breaking' is probably my personal favorite on Uptown Special. And seeing as Kevin and Tame Impala are so hot right now, we thought we could really make the most of this 'hotness; by making a video for not one but two of his songs from Uptown Special, 'Summer Breaking' and 'Daffodils.' Theo Wenner made a beautiful video that really captures (and goes beyond) what we were envisioning when Michael Chabon wrote those haunting lyrics."

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