The Fifteen Finest Summer Songs

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As the lazy, dog-days of summer wane on into the death throes of August and the prospect of ‘Back-to-School’ fills the air with its lilting strains of its Siren Song, we all sit back reflect on the season come and gone. Now that’s damn poetic, right? Yeah, on occasion I can write all pretty and shit. Anyway, the end of a Summer always reminds me of great music. In fact, Summer itself has really garnered itself quite a soundtrack over the years. Certain songs that play on the radio, or that you hear in movies, or are even in your own personal collections, really have that significant ring to them that brings you back to long days of freedom, and long nights of fun and exploration. Yeah, ‘exploration’… know what I mean? *wink-wink-nudge-nudge*? Anyway, close your eyes, relax, and listen to the wonderful sounds of Summer. Sickos!

war hits  75x7515. Summer – WAR (1976)

A different flavor from a band more well-known for such hits as ‘Low Rider’ and ‘The Cisco Kid’, Summer came as a reprise from an exhaustive touring schedule and really set War on to a longer trail of fame. Oh, and this is the only one I couldn’t, for the life of me, find a video to. But here’s the song just the same.

dick dale front 75x7514. Misirlou – Dick Dale and the Deltones (1962)

Thanks in part to Pulp Fiction and the simple fact that Tarantino can seriously pick a soundtrack, Dale’s surfer-style anthem is totally a beach and summer classic

roe 75x7513. Tommy Roe – Dizzy (1969)

Though this song doesn’t really have any connotations of summer itself, for some reason the tune and the sound just have that easy, happy-go-lucky appeal that really brings on the popcorn and cotton candy.

soundgarden superunknown 75x7512. Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun (1994)

A grungy, filthy dirge that brings about heat, sweat, and total Earthly annihilation; just about the most perfect gritty, sun-stroked Summer tune around.

41 2126 Van Halen logo 75x7511. Van Halen – Ice Cream Man (1978)

Off of Van Halen’s very first studio album, Ice Cream Man is chock-full of sexual innuendos, but the fact still remains: it’s about an Ice Cream Man; the absolute savior of hot summer afternoons. Or ‘hot Summer afternoons’, if you get my drift.

weezer1 75x7510. Weezer – Island In the Sun (2001)

Thank goodness for Rivers Cuomo and his rag-tag band of mirth-makers known collectively as Weezer, or else a CD passionately called ‘The Green Album’ might be far less cool.

40+Oz+To+Freedom 75x759. Sublime – Doin’ Time (Summertime) (1997)

Who knew that a song, borrowing heavily from the Gershwin classic ‘Porgy and Bess’, would go on to become one of Sublime’s finest recordings. And boy oh boy does it scream Summer.

the drifters 75x758. The Drifters – Under the Boardwalk (1964)

For those of you who have been to an honest-to-goodness boardwalk on the coast of an ocean can recall almost instantly the smells (taffy, kettle corn), the sounds (calliopes, barkers), and the sights (endless vendors and treats) this song brings to mind.

bryanadams 75x757. Bryan Adams – Summer of ’69 (1984)

A song about the hits, bunts, and strike-outs of life during early adulthood that, regardless of whether or not you were even around in 1969, steals home for every one of us. Now that’s some nice baseball puns, son!

jbuffetttwpa1 75x756. Jimmy Buffett – Margaritaville (1977)

Regardless of how you feel about the song, it’s nearly impossible not to admit that it stirs up lots of great feelings of Summer. You know darn well you, too, got drunk to a Buffett song a time or two.

dj jazzy jeff the fresh prince homebase 75x755. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – Summertime (1991)

This is another of those ‘either you like it or you don’t’ jams that this uber-popular duo released at the tail end of their illustrious career. What I remember is listening to the hell out of it my senior year and following Summer from High School. Still good stuff.

imgJoe Satriani3 75x754. Joe Satriani – Summer Song (1992)

Why this amazing example of a guitar God’s ode to a season isn’t featured more heavily in films focused on Summer, I’ll never know. What I do know: I know what I like, and this is Summer in six strings.

lovin spoonful greatest hits 75x753. Lovin’ Spoonful – Summer in the City (1966)

The general consensus is that this is, indeed, an indelible part of Summer’s musical bounty and I am more than inclined to agree wholeheartedly. Just the vocals alone make you smile and long for those warm nights.

Mungo Jerry 75x752. Mungo Jerry – In The Summertime (1970)

With lyrics like this: “If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal; If her daddy’s poor, just do as you feel” it’s hard not to dig this song regardless of the season. But with it’s banjo and jug, for some reason -despite the title- it just perspires with hot Summer soul.

beach boys 75x751. The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA (1963)

Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, the quintessential Summer band, hands down. I’m a huge Beach Boys fan and I believe ‘The Warmth of the Sun”, more than any other song, spells out Summer and it’s long, sweltering nights for me. However, since the Beach Boys have such a massive catalog of hits, I figured I might as well go with something a bit more recognizable to people to represent them on the list. Here’s ‘Surfin’ USA’.

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