Words Music and Vocals By Lance Cory Frank Produced & Arranged by Lance Frank & Ed Genovese
One day I was holding open house in the retirement community of Sun City Palm Desert when the owner walked in andstruck up a conversation with me. He told me his first wife had passed away not too long ago and he was about to re-marry another resident he had met at a Sun City singles club called "Solos." I don't know why I was initially surprised when he told me about the club, but I soon realized it made perfect sense for people to seek companionship after the inevitable loss of a spouse. I started musing about what I would think, say and do under those circumstances. The song would eventually evolve into a narrative from that point of view
I realize the term "Swinger" might imply something untoward among the more stuffy residents of Sun City, some of whom think of themselves as too staid for "all that nonsense," but the title is really more of a double entendre in that regard. Most of the people who live there are swingers in one sense only...they swing a golf club. Golf is by far the most popular social activity there..that and just enjoying life to the fullest...and what's life without a little romance?
Of course, "Swinger" also refers to the musical genre of the tune. At this time, the people who live in Sun City are of the generation who came of age during World War II which was also the glory days of the Big Band Swing Era. I say "at this time" because as they pass on they inevitably become fewer in number and are replaced by rock and rollers like me. But having been schooled by a big band drummer , swing is deeply imbedded in my musical roots. The song is intended as an homage to my teacher and my other musical idols of the genre and by extension, the entire swing generation.
There just so happened to be a baby grand piano in the living room of the open house. Having not played for untold years I could not resist siting down to play. The recording of my tinkering at the bottom of this page laid the foundation for what would eventually become "Sun City Swinger." Some songs I will sit down and write the chords, melody and lyrics all at the same time. In this case, the lyrics did not come to me until 3 years later.
The principal theme of the tune is living life to the fullest as one grows old while at the same denying our inevitable mortality. Death is admittedly a depressing subject which I was concerned might turn people off, so when my co-producer Ed Genovese suggested I write a bridge to extend the length I racked my brain for references in popular tunes to find some third party validation that mentioning death in a song's lyrics is not necessarily a buzz kill. Turns out the subject comes up more often than most people realize, probabtly because most people do not seem to pay much attention to lyrics, let alone their meaning.
I found some validation in “Let The Good Times Roll” that goes “You only live once and when you’re dead you’re done.” I had been listening to a BB King version of it at the time but instead attributed the line to Count Basie. As it turns out neither was correct. The song was original written and performed by Louis Jordan along with Francis Moore and Sam Thread.
I also found some validation in "That’s Life" which by association could be considered an endorsement by Frank Sinatra who is referred to in Sun City Swinger by his common nick name “The Chairman of The Board.” The song seems to be a testament to the need to keep going no matter what life throws at you, but the last line suggests it is sung from the point of view of someone at the end of their rope. The line goes "If things don’t get better come this here July I'm gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die.” To counteract this seemingly suicidal attitude I came up with “Don’t roll yourself up in no big ball and die” to fill in the last measure of the bridge. Interesting to note that due to a miscommunication between us, Ed had accidentally put in this measure when he laid down the backing tracks. Since he tends to get pissed off every time I ask for a change I told him to leave it the way it was. I figured it would be easier to just come up with the line. I also modified the last verses to become an invitation to anyone with such thoughts to come to Sun City.
Here is the original instrumental version of Sun City Swinger I wrote while playing a baby grand piano during an open house in Sun City. I started playing drums when I was 13 but before that Piano was my instrument. You can hear the early influemces of Ramsey Lewis and Les McCann in my playing.