This past weekend we celebrated the first official day of summer, although most people think summer starts the first weekend of June and ends at the end of August, the calendar really states that summer starts the end of July and goes until towards the end of September. What better way to kick off the season than my lists of ten of the best summer songs you need on your listening playlist. Now there are unlimited songs about summer or that people love to hear, but these are my top ten, and they are all Rock Songs. Whether you agree or not, maybe you’ll find something on the list you may not have listened to before.
10. “Cruel Summer” –Bannarama. This song wasn’t a big hit when released until it was played in the movie “The Karate Kid.” Now everyone knows the song. Even though it’s be remade, the best is the 1984 version, talking about the heat of summer and wanting to be with a certain person as the season moves on.
9.”Under the Boardwalk”-The Drifters. One can’t imagine a better song than this 1964 hit taking the listener to the piers of the beach and smelling the “French Fries and the hot dogs that they sell.” John Mellencamp’s version is good too, but the original still gets me in the summer mood.
8. “Stone in Love”-Journey. This 1981 song is not as known as Journey’s other hits from the “Escape” album, but it gets heavy play in their concert set lists through the years. The heavy rock of the drums and guitars while the vocals sing about “Those Summer Nights Are Calling” makes the listener think they are spending their time with the “Blue-Jeaned Girl.” Hey even rockers need their summer songs too.
7. “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”- Otis Redding. This was a hit in 1967, even though Redding died before the song was released. A sad summer song about a man that leaves broken hearted and decides to just sit and watch the “ships roll in.” Another great thing about this song is that it is only less than three minutes long and has the catchy whistling at the end of the song. One of the greatest songs ever recorded.
6. “Surf City”-Jan and Dean. It’s not summer without the guys that helped the surfing craze of the 1960s. Along with the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean made America want to be beach bums and spend all day surfing. This hit from 1963 promised us “Two girls for every boy” and parties all the time.
5. “Getcha Back”- The Beach Boys. It’s hard to choose just one Beach Boys song on a list of summer because, let’s face it, they ARE summer. I decided to go with my personal favorite, from 1985. This song was their come-back song after the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, and it still sounds modern. Mike Love sings about listening to the song of his ex on the radio and takes him back to the night they break up. He wonders if he leaves his girl and the ex leaves her man is they could “Get it back again.” When most people remember “Kokomo” from the later Beach Boys catalogue, Mike Love’s band still plays this one on tour. This song reminds me of my summer days when I was younger.
4. “Endless Summer Nights”- Richard Marx. It’s hard to believe that this song was passed by almost every record company when Marx was trying to get a deal. Any child of the 1980s grew up with this song blaring on the radio. The great saxophone solo throughout the song is perfect for the 1980s (almost like a John Cafferty song). Marx once described this song as a “summer love not lasting.” Nonetheless you can “remember every moment of those endless summer nights.” A 1988 classic song, and one of my favorite of Marx’s songs.
3. “Brown-Eyed Girl”- Van Morrison. Everyone knows the words to this 1967 classic song, even when it is played at weddings, people jump out of their seats to start dancing to the catchy melody. This song sings about waterfalls and green grass and sunlight. How can this not be included in a summer playlist? And the fact that you don’t need to know the words, except the sing a long “La La La’s” shows how this song has stood through time. This is one of the few songs that I have played in every band I have ever been in and not get tired of the song. A total feel good song that if it is not in your playlist, throw your list away then.
2. ‘The Boys of Summer”- Don Henley. When Henley started making solo records in the early 1980s after The Eagles broke up, many people finally started realizing what a great songwriter and vocalist he really is (outside of the die- hard Eagle fans). This 1984 song is usually the song people think of when Henley’s solo projects are brought up (maybe tied with “End of The Innocent”). Several others have re-made this song, but Henley’s is still the best. Although it’s about the end of summer, it’s still descriptive about the girl walking with her “Wayfarers on” and her “Brown skin shining in the sun.” Surprisingly the song only hit #5 in the U.S. , since it has become synonymous with summer songs. It is in my Top 5 of all songs from the 1980s.
1. “Summer Nights”- Olivia-Newton John and John Travolta. How can this not be the best song on a playlist about summer from the 1978 Movie “Grease?” Yes, “Grease” was a musical on Broadway before the movie, but most people know of the movie and this version. The song is also usually in the top 3 songs ever to be sung in Karaoke parties in the U.S. The song even hit #5 on the U.S. Charts and even did better around the world. Although the song takes place in the 1950s-1960s, it has not been dated with its chorus and lyrics. Whether you’re with a group of friends singing the words or by yourself, you have to say “Oh, those summer nights!”