If you know me, you know that I hate summer. It’s my least favorite season of all. I don’t like being hot, and I hate being chased by inquisitive, brave insects (especially those doggone wasps!). Don’t get me wrong, I love having longer periods of light, but I really just hate the hot, sticky days of summer and all those mosquitoes just waiting to bite my poor body.
Instead of grumping the whole time through summer, I try to see the positives. Summer is the time when I can hang out with my friends in a local park while my husband plays onstage with the town’s municipal band. It’s great dress-wearing weather, and I have more ability to walk outside, especially once the sun starts going down (and not freeze, that is).
Music is a super important facet of my life. Oftentimes, songs will evoke certain imagery in my head (and I try to draw them out) or the reverse will happen – an event that occurred while that song or band was playing will imprint itself on the song, and it will always have an association with that song. That’s happened quite a bit, even in the summer.
With that, here are the best 25 summertime songs for me (arranged alphabetically by title):
“A” – Barenaked Ladies: Simple, simplistic, witty, and fun. This song makes me think of driving on roads surrounded by cornfields with the windows down, for some reason.
“Always” – The Boxer Rebellion: This band is actually a pretty new find for me, so I’m probably going to associate a lot of their stuff with late spring/early summer (that tends to happen to me, really!). “Always” is a speedy little song that is just perfect for jet-setting out on the interstate with no true destination in mind.
“Behind the Lines/Duchess” – Genesis: Okay, this is actually two songs, but for me, they’re inseparable. I actually remember the date I bought Duke – July 16, 2003, just one day before my nephew’s birth. I buried my head in my headsets the night before, listening to these first 2 songs while reading my first volume of Yu-Gi-Oh! I took my portable CD player with me when my parents drove me to the hospital, waiting for my nephew to be born. I can’t NOT think of that kid without hearing these songs, especially “Duchess” – that song was playing when we were told he arrived. Aside from that, “Behind The Lines” is the perfect song for a beautiful, sunny summer day, and “Duchess” encapsulates the rainy, stormy summer days that grace us in June and July.
“Dodo/Lurker” – Genesis: I was obsessed with this song for probably half a decade, so much so that I desperately tried to write out the parts of the band so my high school band could play it in concert before I graduated. I didn’t succeed – I only got to the trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and a little bit of flute, and that was it. Still, this song makes me think about driving through town with the windows down with me blaring it and singing out the lyrics as loud as possible!
“Effington” – Ben Folds: My husband and I have a fun little tradition – every time we pass Effingham, Illinois, we play this song. We don’t go by there very often, but it’s fun every time we do! Also, I don’t particularly want to live, die, or be buried in Effingham, just so you know. 😛
“Feeling That Way” – Journey: There are a lot of Journey songs that evoke thoughts and memories of summer, but this one does it for me every time. It’s fun, energetic, and light-hearted, and it’s also my favorite Journey song, so it takes the cake!
“I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)” – Genesis: Peter Gabriel-era fans, rejoice! This one made the mark! There’s just something about this song that makes me think about the oppressive summer heat of July and August and doing whatever goofy thing you can to take your mind off the heat. (Also, the reason that Gabriel-era Genesis doesn’t pop up here much is because I associate a lot of those albums with winter! I love both eras of the group unconditionally. ^_^)
“If You Love Me” – Steven Page: My best friend James (he’s the guy who helped me get this blog started) put Steven Page’s solo album on at work a few summers ago in June. Once I heard this song come on, I was hooked! There’s just something about this song that makes me happy. It’s energetic and fun, and it just makes me want to get up and dance whenever I hear it, no matter how crappy my day is! 🙂
“Keep It Dark” – Simon Collins: I discovered Simon’s music in the summer of 2007 and haven’t looked back. This song, a remake of an old Genesis song from 1982, is powerful, driving, and fierce, and I LOVE it! (By the way, he’s the son of Phil Collins, and he’s AWESOME! Check out his stuff!)
“Me & Sarah Jane” – Genesis: Perfect for a drive during the summer nights or on a rainy summer day. There’s just something about it!
“No Reply At All” – Genesis: There’s a reason that there’s quite a few Genesis songs on here (and from mostly 2 albums). One summer night in 2002, I was sitting in my room playing Yoshi’s Island on the SNES with the radio on. Then this song came on, and I remember thinking, “Hey, I like this! Sounds like Phil Collins…” And the announcer said it was from Genesis. I had liked Genesis as a kid but was only familiar with Invisible Touch and We Can’t Dance. This was the night I started getting into the band on my own and really delving deeply into different albums!
“Out On the Playa” – Simon Collins: Found this gem back in the summer of ’07! It just has a fun beachy vibe to it. Heck, even the word “beach” comes up in the title (Playa is Spanish for “beach”)!
“Paradise” – Coldplay: I’m not really a fan of Coldplay, but I like this song! It takes me back to the time I visited the Upper Peninsula and drove through Paradise, MI (and saw my first peek of Lake Superior up close and personal!). It just makes me want to go north whenever I hear it. 🙂
“Pickerel Lake” – Sufjan Stevens: A fun, breezy-feeling tune! Okay, the lyrics might not be very fun, but the music sounds very carefree!
“Portugal” – Walk The Moon: Not my favorite Walk The Moon song (I like “Work This Body” and “Tightrope” best, thank you very much), but this song definitely sounds like it was just made for a hot night on the town in the summer! 🙂
“The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades Is Out To Get Us!” – Sufjan Stevens: I know a lot of people rave about “Chicago,” and rightfully so. It’s a gorgeous song! But many forget about another beautiful song – this one, which was loosely based off one of Sufjan’s experiences at camp when he was a kid. It just makes me think of standing in a field of prairie grass in the late afternoon in Northern Illinois. And because I’m terrified of wasps, I try really hard not to think about it and focus on the music instead. 🙂 (By the way, the live renditions of this song are out of this world and full of hilarious banter and stories. Check out my favorite here!)
“Promises” – The Boxer Rebellion: From the first few measures, this song stole my heart. It has a lively, wind-swept feeling to it, and it just makes me think of running in the summertime evenings… which, I never run, but it just has a real carefree feeling to it all. Just drop your worries, make different promises, and run, run, run, run, run. 🙂
“Sleeping Bear, Sault Ste. Marie” – Sufjan Stevens: Okay, this might not be very fair because I visited these 2 beautiful places 3 summers ago. My husband and I totally blared both songs when we arrived at our destinations, and I will never forget the beautiful sand of Sleeping Bear and Traverse City beckoning me to come and stay a while, nor will I forget the fascinating locks of Sault Ste. Marie. I can’t wait to see those places again!
The entirety of Smallcreep’s Day by Mike Rutherford: For those not in the know, Mike Rutherford was the guitarist/bassist (depending on songs and personnel) for Genesis. He wrote an album called Smallcreep’s Day – a friend of mine sent it my way in the summer of 2008, when I was just started living on my own and was preparing my lesson plans for my first year of teaching. I drove to Springfield, my state’s capital, a lot that summer with this album blaring out of my car window, so hearing any of the songs on this album makes me think of that time in my life. ^_^
“Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel: Want to hear a funny story? NO? Well, tough! When I was about 5, I heard this song come on the car radio when my mom and I were running errands around a neighboring town, and I really liked what I heard. The rhythm was fun and different for some reason (I would learn later that it’s in 7/4), and even though I had know idea what the guy was singing, I just loved it and waited for it to come on the radio all the time, which wasn’t too often, sadly. Fast forward to the summer before my sophomore year in college. I was a new Peter Gabriel fan and noticed people talking about how awesome “Solsbury Hill” is. I had never heard of it, so I was curious. I found it online (which was a miracle because this was just before the dawn of YouTube), and I was amazed to hear the song that I adored as a little kid! I immediately ordered it through Borders (*sigh* I miss you, Borders!) and played it in my car all the way back home. I also played it on repeat on my headsets throughout a good portion of the family vacation that summer, so there’s that! Cool, huh? No? Okay, I’ll be quiet.
“Volcano” – Jupiter One: My buddy James showed me this group last summer, thinking I would like them. He was right! And really, c’mon, with a title called “Volcano,” how can you not think of summer and all things hot?
“Watching the Northern Lights” – Barenaked Ladies: This is something I want to do someday. Go up to the Upper Peninsula (or Canada or Alaska), lie down on the ground at night, and watch the northern lights play across the sky. I hope I can do this for real someday!
“The West Side” – Phil Collins: So once my mom and I embarked on a road trip to North Carolina to see my brother when I was around 12. When we were driving through West Virginia, Phil’s “Hello, I Must Be Going” album was on, so now I always associate the album, and this song especially, with summertime travels on the highway. 🙂
“Won’t Be Afraid” – The Cat Empire – I’m not really a fan of this band personally, but I do enjoy this song! It’s fun and breezy – I can kind of see myself chilling by a huge ocean with this song playing in the background.
Which songs remind you of summer? 🙂