The sun, the beach, convertibles with their tops down, lazy days and crazy nights. Spring and summer have been depicted, dissected, wished for, worshiped, and honored as much as any musical subject (with the possible exceptions of sex and drugs).
Here's a look at some of the rock songs that best depict the (mostly) bright side of the warm weather days of misspent youth.
Island Def Jam
No self-respecting list of songs about summer would be complete without at least one song by The Beach Boys
, for whom summer provided the basis for a musical genre unto itself. If "Keepin' the Summer Alive" seemed more rock-oriented than the '60s Beach Boys, it was probably because it was co-written by Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive) and the Boys' Carl Wilson (who also sang lead.)
• Watch a Beach Boys performance of "Keepin' the Summer Alive" in 1980
Remember how we couldn't wait for summer, and how quickly it zipped by once it finally arrived? "I'll be making the most of summertime, crazy nights and lazy days ..."
sums it up pretty well.
• Listen to Asia's "Summer (Can't Last Too Long)
The theme is a little bit melancholy, but Don Henley
's summertime imagery is quite vivid, as in "Your brown skin shinin' in the sun, you got that top pulled down and that radio on ..."
. An electronic sound like a sea gull completes the imagery.
• Watch "The Boys of Summer" music video
"Fish are jumping and the cotton is high ..."
suggests a "summer in the country" counterpoint to The Lovin' Spoonful's homage to hot weather. Billy Stewart's rendition -- the album version with more scat and a hot sax not heard on the radio single -- is the best. Nothing says summer quite like "Brrrrrrrrrrrr-up-ch-chuck-chuck-chooka-chuck-chuck...hooh!"
• Watch a Billy Stewart performance of "Summertime"
(the single version)
Billy Stewart didn't have anything on these guys when it came to making vocal sound effects. Their first #1 single was imminently sing-alongable with lyrics like "Da da da dee da doo dee da dee da dee da da.
" They also had a solid list of great ways to waste your time "when the weather is fine ... "
like swimming in the sea, driving fast, drinking, and having "women on your mind."
• Watch Mungo Jerry perform "In the Summertime" in 1970
Epic / Legacy
Photo by Henry Diltz, courtesy Special Ops Media
This is easily the best song about summer that you've never heard. Joni Mitchell
wrote, but never recorded it, nor, as far as I can tell, has anyone else. It may be obscure, but the imagery is memorable:
Daisy summer pipers come to town
Piping people out of doors
To see the magic all around
Listen now you'll hear his sound
Stare into a mirror pool
And laugh so princely vain
The skies become kaleidoscopes
With no two turns the same