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Ten Classic Summer Songs

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Richard is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys all forms of entertainment, including movies, music, and television.

Summer Sounds

Summer Sounds

A Celebration of Summer in Song

It's never easy compiling a Top 10 list, like this songs for Summer one. When it comes to musical preferences, listing favourites can be a tough task when there are so many good songs from which to choose. Many tracks evoke memories from times past, and for me, these ten summer songs revive the lazy, hazy days of bygone summers.

Of course, everyone has their own favourite styles of music, but I grew up listening to the rock and pop hits of the day on a familiar transistor radio and using one of those old cassette tape recorders. Each Sunday evening meant listening to that week's music chart rundown while noting down which hits were worth spending my hard earned pocket money on.

Some of these made it into my record collection, while others were surreptitiously recorded onto tape. They all come from my musical golden era: the 1960s through to the 1980s. I hope you remember and enjoy some of the music I have picked as my favourite summer songs.


1. Summer in the City: Lovin' Spoonful

I was too young to remember The Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City when it was first popular in 1966, but I soon caught up.

The whole feel of this song conjures up what I imagined to be the humid, sweaty streets of suburbia. Lying in the quiet of a back garden in the UK, soaking up the sun, transported me to the streets of New York.

2. Summer Breeze: The Isley Brothers

Although Summer Breeze was originally a US hit for Seals and Crofts in 1972, that version never set the music charts on fire in the UK. Two years later, however, a cover version by The Isley Brothers became very popular and breezed its way into my psyche.

Reminders of youthful warm summer evenings listening to this soulful version, including Ernie Isley's masterful guitar solo, are what memories are made of.

3. In the Summertime: Mungo Jerry

Mungo Jerry were one of my favourite groups from the early 1970s. Probably because they didn't seem to fit in with a particular genre. Just good time music to have fun to.

In the Summertime ruled the music charts in both the UK and the US in the summer of 1970, and any party that was worth its salt had it playing. While some of the lyrics are ill advised by today's standards, back then listeners cared, but enjoyed the song for its summer party atmosphere.

4. Groovin': The Young Rascals

Groovin' by The Young Rascals was another song I was a little too young to remember when it was first popular in 1967.

But it's another one of those tracks that I heard regularly during the summer months, and takes me back to those long summer breaks from school. Its languid tempo and lazy Sunday afternoon feel was an ideal accompaniment to relaxing in the sun.

5. Cruel Summer: Bananarama

Although Bananarama were one of the most successful girl groups of the 1980s, they were never one of my particular favourites. However, Cruel Summer was all over the radio in 1983, and by this time I was working and relishing those precious two week breaks in the sun. This song just clicked with those feelings of the time.

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As Sara Dallin of Bananarama told The Guardian newspaper (July 22, 2009): "The best summer songs remind you of your youth: what you did in your holidays, how it felt when you first kissed a boy (or girl), going away without your parents." She added that this song, "played on the darker side: it looked at the oppressive heat, the misery of wanting to be with someone as the summer ticked by. We've all been there!"

6. Sunny Afternoon: The Kinks

The Kinks were, and still are, one of my favourite groups and this 1966 UK Number One has always screamed decadence and laziness. A perfect combination for enjoying the long, hot days of summer! Ironically, the band decided to record the promotional film for the song in the cold and snow.

7. Summertime: Janis Joplin

There are so many different recordings of this classic George Gershwin show tune that it's difficult to pick just one. But in deference to my wife, whose favourite rock vocalist is Janis Joplin, here is Joplin's version of Summertime.

This song simply paints a masterpiece of the images and recollections of the summer season.

8. School's Out: Alice Cooper

Few warm-weather hits capture the exuberant feel of this last day of school anthem. Released and a Number One UK hit in the summer of 1972, for many kids this became the signature tune of the long, summer break that year.

After all, rock and roll was created as a form of rebellion and the lyrics to this classic reverberated with every school kid in the land. And it was a great summer tune, too!

9. Boys of Summer: Don Henley

Quite simply a great song. Interpretations of the lyrics have varied over the years, from the 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers to the reminiscences of past relationships.

Don Henley is quoted as saying that the track is a nostalgic look at the past, questioning one's good intentions in youth, but aging into what we rebelled against to begin with. Like many of the best summer songs, it evokes an atmosphere of the past, whether those memories are good or bad.

10. Bryan Adams: The Summer of '69

Once again, nostalgia is the theme to this great rocker from Bryan Adams. I was more familiar with some of his other songs, but after I picked up a copy of his Greatest Hits, this track got a lot of play over the summer months.

In an interview, Bryan Adams talks of the influences on Summer of '69, stating that "it's a very simple song about looking back on the summertime and making love. For me, the '69 was a metaphor for making love, not about the year. I had someone in Spain ask me once why I wrote the first line I had my first real sex dream... I had to laugh."

Did I Say Ten Songs? - Here's Five More...

Here's five more summer tunes that didn't make my Top 10, but are worth including here!

  • 1. Summer (The First Time) - Bobby Goldsboro.
  • 2. Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran.
  • 3. Hot Fun in the Summertime - Sly and the Family Stone.
  • 4. It Might As Well Rain Until September - Carole King.
  • 5. Summer - War.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Richard

Are You A Fan of the Songs of Summer?

topclimb lm on June 26, 2014:

Great lens! Thanks for taking the time to create it...

Donna Cook on June 06, 2014:

Terrific lens! You certainly picked the best of the best. Being a Yank, I would also add anything by Jan and Dean ("Dead Man's Curve" and "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena"). Thank you for not listing Blue Cheer for "Summertime Blues"-they destroyed it.

CherylsArt on June 05, 2014:

You've got some cool songs here. I remember checking out the charts to see which songs I wanted to record on my cassettes, too. : )

Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on June 05, 2014:

More memories! I loved so many of those songs when they came out. I'd forgotten about Bobby Goldsboro. Thanks for putting this together. Enjoyed it very much.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on June 05, 2014:

What a fun list! Clearly I'm older than you since I remember many of these on the first go-round that you learned to love later on, while some of the newer (guess "old" and "new" are all relative) ones I don't know well at all. In any case, I still love listening to summer music on our awesome oldies station.