Songs of the Summer

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Summer and music go hand in hand. Outdoor concert season is in full swing, and songs about summer and summer activities are popular. I Googled “Songs about Summer” and lots of lists pop up of the greatest summer songs of all time – including a recently published list by Rolling Stone of their picks of the 50 Best Summer Songs of All Time. I can’t say that I agree with their list (top of the list is Good Time by Chic, other not-so-summery songs on the list include Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Gin & Juice at #4, Public Enemy’s Fight the Power at #6 and BTS/Megan Thee Stallion’s Butter). So…I decided to make my own list.

Here’s a random sample of songs that I think of when I think of summer – with a strong bias toward the 60s and 70s.  There are a lot more – feel free to send comments on your favorites. In no particular order…

School’s Out – Alice Cooper – in 1972, I was in the sixth grade. When School’s Out hit the radio in May of that year, it was the perfect anthem to start the summer.

Summer Breeze – Seals and Crofts – also released in 1972, it’s a mellow rock classic. “Summer breeze, makes you feel fine, blowin’ through the jasmine in my mind.”

Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffett – Buffett made sure that all of his bills for the rest of his life would be paid when this one was released in 1977. Buffett has leveraged the song to business ventures that include resorts, restaurants, the LandShark beer brand, retirement villages, a $500 daiquri maker, casinos, salad dressing and even a line of cannibis goods.

Under the Boardwalk – The Drifters – the classic R&B group had many hits, but Under the Boardwalk, released in the summer of 1964, became synonymous with summer. Their version reached #4 on the Hot 100 – Ten other artists released covers that also charted in the U.S. or abroad. Even the Rolling Stones did a cover version – it hit #1 in Australia and South Africa in 1965.

Soak Up the Sun – Sheryl Crow – the song was released in February 2002, and was written soon after the events of September 11, 2001. America needed a “pick me up” after 9/11, and Crow’s song about catching rays and relaxing was perfect. It peaked on the charts during the summer of 2002.

Escape (The Piña Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes – it was released in the fall of 1979 and reached #1 to become the final #1 song of the seventies. The song is about a couple attempting to cheat on one another via a personals column – not such a feel good message, but its yacht-rock sound and reference to piña coladas give it a perfect summer feel.

All Summer Long – Kid Rock – released in 2008, Kid Rock put together an infectious mash-up of Werewolves of London (Warren Zevon) and Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd), and the song about summer teenage love in Northern Michigan was a hit. It was even a bigger hit internationally – it reached #1 on nine charts in Europe and Australia.

Pontoon – Little Big Town – summer means boating, and what could be better than a party on a pontoon? This Grammy winning song was Little Big Town’s first #1 country single, released in 2012.

Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer – Nat King Cole – one of the crooner king’s last hits, it peaked at #6 on the Hot 100 in 1963. The song about picnics on the beach and making out at drive-in movies summarizes a perfect summer day in the sixties.

And finally…

Everything by the Beach Boys. Let’s start with Surfin’ Safari (1962), Surfer Girl (1963), Surfin’ U.S.A. (1963), California Girls (1965), and their surprise comeback hit Kokomo (1988). Even their songs that aren’t about the summer make you think of the summer – thanks to that signature Beach Boys sound. Think Little Deuce Coupe, Fun Fun Fun, I Get Around, Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Ann, Good Vibrations, etc.

Here are the Beach Boys performing Surfin’ U.S.A. This just makes me smile! Enjoy your summer!




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