Memorial Day is here, and you know what that means: barbecues, shorts and those summer jams. With summer right around the corner, we’re making sure that you have the right tunes you’ll need to start the season up right. Here’s Elmore’s list of summer songs.
“School’s Out” Alice Cooper
“School’s out for summer/School’s out forever/School’s been blown to pieces”
We all remember those school days, when we impatiently squirmed at our desks waiting for that last bell to ring and bring us our freedom from algebra, P.E. and cafeteria lunches. The last day of school was always a day of freedom and glory, and Alice Cooper captured that in this hit song.
“Under the Boardwalk” The Drifters
“(Under the boardwalk)/Out of the sun/(Under the boardwalk)/We’ll be havin’ some fun/(Under the boardwalk)/People walking above/(Under the boarwalk)/We’ll be making love/Under the boardwalk, boardwalk”
You know where all the cool kids hang out to have some fun? Under the boardwalk. No, it doesn’t sound like the most hygienic thing to do, but hey, sometimes you just need to get that lovin’ right away.
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” Sly & the Family Stone
“End of the spring and here she comes back/Hi, hi, hi, hi there/Them summer days, those summer days”
Here’s some more summer loving for the list. Sly & the Family Stone kept it simple with a tale of summer fun and games with a bit of that funk and soul.
“Summertime” George Gershwin
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy/Fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high/Oh, your daddy’s rich and your ma is good-lookin’/So hush, little baby; don’t you cry”
Here’s a Gershwin original that’s been covered over and over again by numerous artists from Billie Holiday to Miles Davis to Ella Fitzgerald to John Coltrane to Janis Joplin to the Zombies—and that’s only a few of the big names who have covered it.
“Rockaway Beach” Ramones
“Chewing out a rhythm on my bubble gum/The sun is out and I want some/It’s not hard, not far to reach/We can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach”
Yes, the Ramones were all about the punk rock, but they dipped their toes into a little bit surf rock for this jam. You wouldn’t think that these guys were the beach-going types, but Dee Dee Ramone had a special place in his heart for the sand and waves of Rockaway Beach in Queens, N.Y.
“Summer of Love” “Rock Lobster” The B-52s
“It’s the summer of love, love, love/I’m in love with love, love, love/For everyone transcends here/I’m thinking of you, boy/Love energy is giving us a shove/Making this the summer of love”
“We were at the beach/Everybody had matching towels/Somebody went under a dock/And there they saw a rock/It wasn’t a rock/Was a rock lobster”
Here we’ve got a little bit of surf and a little bit of dance for a lot of fun. But what else would you expect from the B-52s? Here we’ve got a summer of love and a quirky tale of a beach crustacean.
“Summertime Blues” Eddie Cochran
“Sometimes I wonder what I’m a gonna do/But there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues”
So far, we’ve had all happy-go-lucky songs in this list, but sometimes even the summer isn’t that bright. In “Summertime Blues,” the narrator complains about having to work because it gets in the way of his social life. He calls in sick from work and tries to borrow the car from his parents so he can go out on a date, but his parents refuse to give him the car because he didn’t go to work. So the narrator decides he’ll take his problem to the UN, but his congressman refuses him because he’s too young to vote. What a tale of woe.
“In Atlantic City or out in Malibu/Or anywhere between. I am telling you/When you feel those balmy breezes on your face/Summer time is the best time any place, oh yeah”
War had all the best parts of summer in this song: the street musicians playing, the kids in Disneyland, lying out on a blanket in the sand, young kids playing in the street, open fire hydrants, young lovers walking around at night.
“Summer in the City” The Lovin’ Spoonful
“And babe, don’t you know it’s a pity?/If the days can’t be like the nights/In the summer, in the city/In the summer, in the city”
We’ve had a couple of hot days, but we have yet to get to the oppressive, in-your-face heat we all know is headed our way. We know what it’s like to suffer in the heat and the humidity in the city when people look “half dead” and walk around on the sidewalk, which is “hotter than a match head.”
“The Boys of Summer” Don Henley
“I can see you/Your brown skin shinin’ in the sun/You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby/And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong/After the boys of summer have gone.”
A song that is more about looking back and recalling the days of summer after they’ve gone, this is getting a little bit ahead of the game. Besides, we don’t really want to start feeling nostalgic for a season that’s just starting. We’re done with those cold, lifeless days. Give us those boys of summer.
“Summer Breeze” The Isley Brothers
“Summer breeze makes me feel fine/Blowing through the jasmine in my mind”
The Isley Brothers inserted some soul into summer. With blooming jasmine and a light breeze, the song feels like a relaxed summer day.
“Summer Nights” Van Halen
“Summer nights and my radio/Well that’s all we need, baby, don’tcha know?/ We celebrate when the gang’s all here/Ah, hot summer nights, that’s my time of the year”
In this song, Van Halen celebrates the fact that “we made it through the cold.” What does Van Halen do to take advantage of the summer? Hang out with the boys in the local parking lot, listen to the radio and check out the girls.
“Girls in their Summer Clothes” Bruce Springsteen
“And the girl in their summer clothes/In the cool of the evening light/The girls in their summer clothes/Pass me by”
Leave it to the Boss to bring his bit of Jersey charm to this summer song. Filled with a series of warm, familiar vignettes that tell of the summer happenings in a small town, this song feels a lot like home. It also won a Grammy for Best Rock Song in 2008.
“Hot in the City” Billy Idol
“It’s hot here at night, lonely, black and quiet/On a hot summer night/Don’t be afraid of the world we made/On a hot summer night”
Even though this punk rocker is a Brit through-and-through, in this song, Idol sings of a summer night in New York City.
“Here Comes the Sun” the Beatles
“Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter/Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here/Here comes the sun/Here comes the sun, and I say/It’s all right”
You knew this one was coming. This song sounds like sunshine itself and is the Fab Four’s own personal “Welcome Back” to the popular season.
“Summer of ‘69” Bryan Adams
“Standing on your mama’s porch/You told me that you’d wait forever/And when you held my hand/I knew that it was now or never/Those were the best days of my life/Oh yeah, back in the summer of ’69”
Yes, this song has the year 1969 in the title, but this sounds like the ‘80s all the way. Even though this star was from Canada, this song became a hit worldwide. Who knew something so warm could come from the Great White North?
“Wipe Out” The Surfaris
“For three years straight, we toured the nation/When we get through, we needed a vacation/We wanted to party and get a little rest/So we packed our things and headed out west/We got our surfboards, took the beach ball out/Jumped in a limousine, ready to wipeout”
Here’s another one everybody knows. When you’re hitting the waves and surfing in the summer, it’s hard to think of a more suitable song.
Everything by the Beach Boys ever
Did you think we forgot the Beach Boys? Well, shame on you. Of course we had to include them on the list. This band’s songs—like “Surfin’ USA,” “Surf’s Up,” “I Get Around” and “Kokomo,” to name just a few—epitomized the sounds of summer and recalled those bright and sunny days at the beach. It’d be pretty damn near impossible to single out just one, so we’ll just leave this one to you.