Mon May 17, 2004
Lafayette, LA – The rise of radio approximately 80 years ago, made manifest very special things called "summer songs." You can't exactly define a summer song, but you surely know it when you hear one. There are light, innocent, stupid kinds of summer songs (WHAM!, "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go," August 1984; Paper Lace, "The Night Chicago Died," June 1974). OK, REAL stupid. There are revolutionary summer songs (Chuck Berry, "Maybelline," August 1955; Jerry Lee Lewis, "Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On," June 1957). Songs that have directly reflected the season (Beach Boys, "California Girls," July 1965 and The Flaming Lips, It's Summertime, May 2002). Others have directly reflected the times ( Bob Dylan, "Like A Rolling Stone," July 1965; Tupac, "California Love," June 1996). They all share one thing: If a radio was on, they were on it.
Summer songs can stick with you for a long time, for better (Rolling Stones, "Miss You," May 1978) or worse (Bread, "Make It With You," June 1970). Maybe it's a mood thing. The temperature is rising, car stereos are booming, doors and windows are opened to bring a little fresh air into dreary lives beaten down by a brittle winter and wet spring. Maybe it conspires to "Make a Little Magic" (The Dirt Band, June 1980) as a soundtrack to your summer romance (The Clash, "Should I Stay or Should
I Go," July 1982), which always begins with a little er, uh, testing the waters? (Meat Loaf, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," August 1978).
Some are better than others. Every once in a while, we're blessed by the perfect combination of a great summer song that's also about summer. Nearly all of them celebrate the season, but the all-time champion, Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues," deals more with teenage boredom and frustration. "Summertime Blues" was released in August 1958.
Pull on some shorts. Go barefootin'. Forget about cutting the grass. Who wants to work when you can listen to Summer Songs About Summer"?
Here are some classics:
"Summertime Blues," Eddie Cochran, August 1958, and The Who, July 1970. Cochran's original captured the feel of days that seem to last too long, while The Who's was the sonic equivalent of gang warfare.
"Summertime," DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, June 1991. This ode to summer's pleasures was Will Smith's last great rap song and could make a British Royal Guardsman smile.
"Hot Fun in the Summertime," Sly & the Family Stone, August 1969. On the best summer day of your life, this song was playing. If you were lucky.
"Summer Wind," Frank Sinatra, September 1966. A more mature take on the season that somehow feels exactly like a warm breeze.
"In the Summertime," Mungo Jerry, July 1970. A novelty? Yes. Goofy? Yes. Irresistible? Absolutely. "Chh chh-chh, uh. Chh chh-chh, uh. Chh chh-chh, uh."
What are your favorite summer songs? If you have one you would like to share with us, log onto to our website at www.krvs.org and share it with our community in our guestbook.