In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week, we’re talking about the songs we like most when the weather gets warm.
Aretha Franklin, “Day Dreaming” (1972)
Embittered misanthropes and East Coast loyalists would do well to steer clear of Aretha Franklin’s “Day Dreaming.” It’s a song capable of piercing the armor of even the most romantically averse and making Manhattan snobs wish the Holland Tunnel connected to the Pacific Coast Highway. Lyrically and musically, “Day Dreaming” is calibrated for meandering, oceanside summer drives taken with one hand on the steering wheel and the other clasping a lover’s hand.
The song is the highlight of Franklin’s 1972 album Young, Gifted, And Black and its biggest hit, with Franklin singing about the man of her daydreams, a spontaneous adventurer prone to whisking her away at a moment’s notice. “Hey baby, let’s get away, let’s go somewhere far / Baby can we? /Where, I don’t care.” Franklin penned “Day Dreaming” and drafted some impressive names to play on it, including Donny Hathaway on piano and flute flourishes from Hubert Laws. Despite its impressive pedigree and its success upon release, “Day Dreaming” is now a relatively unsung track among Franklin’s legendary discography. The name “Aretha” has become so synonymous with throaty barnburners like “Chain Of Fools” and “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You,” a lush, mid-tempo infatuation anthem is easily lost in the shuffle. But it immediately springs to mind when springtime solidifies. It’s a premium ingredient that demands the other components of a precise recipe: a bright, still day; a vague destination; a well-ventilated ride, and someone adorable who knows exactly when to chat and when not to.