Besides the summer season representing backyard barbecues, grilling burgers and steaks, making lemonade or margaritas, watching baseball on TV or at a nearby park, swimming and surfing at the beach amongst the many activities it also means music. Countless songs have been composed about this glorious season. Oftentimes they have the word summer in the song title. Instead of this type of approach here are ten great songs that represent summer in some other capacity. These songs speak of topics on travel, cars, food, urban lifestyle, going to the park, surfing on a surfboard, and dancing. Many of the musicians featured have made an extraordinary contribution to music. They are now part of the ten songs that personify the summer season. This will be a music list unlike any other.
10.) Vacation – Go Go’s
They are one of the most successful all-girl pop/rock groups who composed their own songs. This late 70’s/early 80’s punk band from L.A. burst onto the charts with their infectious tunes. In this song it’s about a summer romance, which happens to be a very popular time of falling in love. The cheesy music video features them as the old-fashioned water-skiers from Cypress Gardens in Florida. This was a tourist attraction before the days of Disney World back in the 50’s or 60’s. The song title also talks of taking a vacation. Summer is the most popular time of the year for travel.
9.) Summer Lady – Santana
From Carlos Santana’s masterful guitar playing is this song track from the Marathon album released in 1979. It’s about a fantasy lady. This is the only song title on the list that mentions summer. In the music video the flight attendant is waking the passengers up and getting everyone out of their seats to dance. Once again, the music video is about summer travel and dancing to the music as a favorite summertime activity.
8.) Pink Cadillac – Bruce Springsteen
Here is the B-Side to Dancing In The Dark by “The Boss.” You must have a summer song list featuring a car in it. This is Springsteen’s second song featuring the word Cadillac in one of his song titles. It’s basically about loving his girlfriend’s pink Cadillac. What a perfect song to have on while cruising in your car on a hot summer night.
7.) Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
He is the king of tropical island music, which represents a carefree lifestyle in the Florida Keys or the Caribbean. This song truly personifies it to perfection. Buffest wrote Margaritaville in Key West while watching some gridlock on the road. Prior to his arrival in Key West, when he and his band were on tour, Buffet was in Texas drinking margaritas at a Mexican restaurant. Those two seminal events came together and that’s the result of this famous song. Every time I hear it on the radio I want to have a margarita. What a delicious drink to sip on for the summer while at the pool or a beach bar watching the sunset.
6.) Up on the Roof– The Drifters
It’s one of the biggest hits for this vocal group about city dwellers in the summer living in high-rises, not just in New York City, but in other major urban cities. What a superb song lyrically of wanting to escape the stresses of daily life in a big city to the “tar beaches” on the roof. You really get a sense of being right there when you hear the song.
5.) Saturday in the Park – Chicago
This song is based on the songwriter, Robert Lamm’s, experience while in Central Park in New York City during the Fourth of July. He writes vividly of the jugglers, dancers, steel drummers, etc. that he encounters. This is an excellent song about any day of the week in a park, no matter where, in the summer season, especially when it mentions a summer national holiday like the 4th of July.
4.) Wipe Out– The Surfari’s
What a crazy opening for a song with that crazy laugh and the only vocal heard is “wipe out”. Then you hear the brilliant drum solo and guitar riffs throughout to a surfing rhythm. This is the ultimate garage band from the early 60’s. It is still considered a surf classic and was a huge hit too. Not long after the song was released the Beach Boys came onto the music scene. They would eventually make surfing even more popular. Without a doubt Wipe Out makes you want to get on your surfboard, even if you don’t have one.
3.) Centerfield – John Fogerty
Baseball is the king of sports for the summer season. Here is a perfect song and music video paying home to those boys of summer, the baseball players. John Fogerty was inspired to write this song when he attended a MLB All-Star game in San Francisco. His seat was in centerfield. This is considered the third most popular song about baseball besides Talkin’ Baseball and of course the perennial Take Me Out To The Ballgame.
2.) Cheeseburger in Paradise – Jimmy Buffet
Every time I hear this song on the radio I crave for a cheeseburger. This is certainly the ultimate food to have on the grill for a summer BBQ gathering. According to Buffet he wrote the song when his boat went through some very rough weather. The ice had melted in their box, so they were forced to eat canned food and peanut butter for the time being. When they managed to dock at a marina in Tortola in the Caribbean there was a restaurant that offered American cheeseburgers. This was at a time when other countries did not serve American comfort food as common as they do now. It was like paradise tasting that cheeseburger after all they went through. Cheeseburgers are great all year round, but they are the tastiest grilled in the summer.
1.) The Twist – Chubby Checker
With all this talk of food and drinks its time to take those pounds off with one of the best dancing and workout songs ever recorded in my opinion. I absolutely love The Twist. It may be an oldie but goodie, but you can’t deny its infectious beat, high energy, lively lyrics and washing machine-like rhythm. It absolutely has to be the best summer song to dance to, bar none.
Once you hear these songs you’ll no doubt want them in your collection. You can download these excellent ten songs that personify the summer season from www.amazon.com or www.iTunes.com. They may be from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, but many of the artists are still touring and recording to this day. This is a testament on how some songs are timeless, because they reflect on something that never grows old, like many summertime activities.
Summer Songs in Pop Music: Vacation Summer Songs and Beach Music Pop Music Hits, Pop Culture Madness
100 Greatest Summer Songs, Digital Dream Door
YouTube – Broadcast Yourself, YouTube
Song Meanings at Songfacts, Songfacts
The Official Carlos Santana Web Site, Santana