Recently my friends Greg and Christina enlisted my help putting together a summertime playlist that they could share with clients of their real estate business. The mission was simple: come up with a CD-length list of songs that "felt like summertime," would "make people happy," and would appeal to (or at least not frighten) a potentially broad audience (i.e. keep it clean).
I had to vary from my usual style of song choices here and err on the side of commercial, family-friendly tunes. I also erred on the side of upbeat as opposed to nostalgic. Of course these constraints led to several notable ommissions (Will Smith's "Summertime" was just too slow, for example) but I still think it's a satisfying mix, and it definitely feels like summertime to me. What do you think? What songs say "summer" to you? Let me know in the comments.
(By the way, the photo at the right is 'Boombox' by flickr user lorigoldberg who was kind enough to let me use it. I couldn't make captions work right in Blogger.)
- Mungo Jerry - In The Summertime
I have always loved this song and I always will. They used to play it on the classic rock radio station I listened to all the time as a kid. Then I saw this picture, and I fell in love all over again.
- Sheryl Crow - All I Wanna Do
I hate Sheryl Crow, but I like this song a lot. I especially like how she works in a little irony into what's otherwise a bubblegum summer song with lyrics like "They drive their shiny Datsuns and Buicks/Back to the phone company, the record store too/Well, they're nothing like Billy and me..." Nice work, Crow.
- Tom Cochrane - Life Is A Highway
I heard this song in college, when one of my suite-mates (who had just discovered MP3s) played it incessantly. Never heard anything else by Tom Cochrane and have no idea who he is. No interest in learning, either. What if all his other songs were terrible? I'd be so disappointed.
- Bob Marley & The Wailers - Buffalo Soldier
When we went to Costa Rica many summers ago, one perfect day culminated in drinks on the patio of Marlin Restaurant in Manuel Antonio on the Pacific coast. They were playing Bob Marley when we arrived after a morning of hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park, and it was simply perfect. Ever since, Bob has been essential summer listening at our house.
- The Coasters -Yakety Yak
The idea of not wanting to do chores seems very "summer" to me, since the amount of chores assigned to me always seemed to skyrocket over summer vacations when I was actually home all day to do chores. I wish the Coasters success in their continuing struggle against The Man Mom.
- Paul Simon - Kodachrome
Hard choice here between "Kodachrome," "Late In The Evening," and "Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard." They all seem very summery to me, but this one won out because he mentions "the greens of summers." This song manages to be rebellious, nostalgic, and optimistic all at the same time, which makes it a winner in my book. Plus it has some kick-ass honky-tonk piano.
- The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer In The City
Having lived in DC for many years, I can attest that the back of my neck really does get dirty and gritty in the horrible, horrible summertime temperatures we get here.
- Donovan - Sunshine Superman
Not really sure why this feels like summer to me, in part it's just the title - "Sunshine Superman" sounds like a superhero whose superpower is making the sun shine (and doesn't realize that this happens on its own).
- Tom Petty - Free Fallin'
The lyrics really aren't as happy as the music would imply, but this is still a quintessential summertime song for me. I love Tom Petty. There, I said it. Judge me if you must.
- The Specials - A Message to You, Rudy
Props to Eduardo for reminding me how good this song is, and how much it feels like a summer song. Thanks.
- The Beach Boys - Wouldn't It Be Nice
What says summertime more than waiting for sex?
- The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
What says summertime more than failing to have sex?
- The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
I thought this was a great summer song last summer, and I'm glad to see it's held up.
- Elton John - Crocodile Rock
This one was an easy choice. It never fails to make me smile to hear Elton John sing about some imaginary rock'n'roll past with his imaginary girlfriend.
- Weezer - Buddy Holly
This and "The Sweater Song" were pretty hard to escape from in the summer of 1995. I can't hear either one without thinking of summer in some way, in the back of my mind. I try not to let my hatred of summertime weather interfere with my love of these songs.
- K'naan - Wavin' Flag
My new summertime anthem. Soon it will be yours, too!
- Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
You can feel the heat in this one. Bruce has a gift for writing incredibly evocative songs, and this of course is no exception. This song feels like a sweltering summer night to me.
- The Beach Boys - Kokomo
For some reason, I listened to this song a lot in junior high (probably because that's when Cocktail came out), but it wasn't until recently that I remembered how much I love it. I think they captured the simple escapist fantasy of a perfect island getaway better than 100 Jimmy Buffet songs.