Roundtable: Summertime, and the Music is Easy

E:I don’t know about you, but there are certain songs that mean summer to me. Some, because I associate them with particular summers past (probably because they were overplayed on the radio) and others because they just have that summery feel. I thought we might share some playlists of our summer faves – offer up what we’ve all liked, and hopefully see what you enjoy, too.

First, a few songs that I strongly associate with the summers they were released are the Black Eyed Peas “Where is the Love” and Guns n’ Roses “Sweet Child of Mine”; I danced with my firstborn child to the first, and a boy write me a love letter quoting the second (“Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place/ Where as a child I’d hide”) (M: to quote C, I think I just threw up in my mouth a little) (E: oh, whatever). I remember making a fake music video with high school friends to Def Leopard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Not a song you’d expect to be sentimental about, huh?

C: Hey, associations don’t have to have logic to them! (Actually though, I associate that song with the movie Coyote Ugly; if summer is a time for guilty pleasures, that’s one of Hollywood’s most summery films…)

E: Some songs seems eternally summery to me, regardless of my experience with them (or their association with attrocious movies or embarrassing personal anecdotes):

Colbie Callait’s “Bubbly”

Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours”

Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun” (C: Blegh!)

Doris Troy’s “Just One Look”

Big Mountain’s cover of “Baby I Love Your Way”

Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On”

Bob Marley’s ” Waiting in Vain” (but really, the whole Legends album – we can all probably agree that reggae is a summer genre, and that Marley is reggae personified)

Jack Johnson’s “Flake”

What else? I’m sure there are lots of summer anthems I’m missing.

M: There are a lot that I associate with summer for one reason or another. Usually it is the association with the summer that I first heard it, or the summer that I remember listening to it a lot, or it being the soundtrack of one specific event. Sometimes it’s much more blatant, as summer is either mentioned in the title, like the aforementioned Cheryl Crow song or Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer,” or it’s about summer, or both, like Will Smith’s “Summertime.”

Some that pop to mind for me right away are Blues Traveler’s “Runaround,” Barenaked Ladies’ “One Week,” O.A.R’s “Wonderful Day” and The Hooters’ “And We Danced.” All to me are light, fun and upbeat songs that I want to listen to when I’m outside and able to really move around, preferably with the heat of the sun pouring down on me, and maybe the ocean, a pool or a wiffle ball game near by. Some others get-you-moving songs that make my summertime list are Bruce Springsteen’s quintessential summer song “Glory Days” (which I heard just yesterday!), Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way” (C: Or as Dad called it, “Simeon the Whale”/E: He’s not the only one, either – I’ve heard people not related to us say that as well.), Boston’s “More Than a Feeling,” Better Than Ezra’s “Good” and Chumbawamba’s fantastic one hit wonder “Tubthumping” and its companion from the summer of ’97, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ hit “The Impression That I Get.”

Of course, I have to include some for the more relaxed moments, that make the perfect backdrop for sitting around watching the sun go down and hanging out, like the Counting Crows’ “Anna Begins,” Creedence’s “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” and Jars of Clay’s “Love Song For a Savior.” Lastly for me, since summer and baseball go hand in hand, any summer time list wouldn’t be complete without John Fogerty’s “Put Me In Coach,” or pretty much every song ever recorded by Jimmy Buffett.

E: Love “Tubthumping”! What a great call! And the Bosstones. Rusted Root makes me think of Phish’s big top forty hit, “Bouncing Round the Room,” which is excellently, er, bouncy. And all your old school stuff. What’s the idea with “Anna Begins,” though? That’s a fascinating choice – it’s one of my favorite songs, but it seems so moody and dark. To me their summer anthem has to be “Hangin’ Around.”

M: I know, I’m odd. (E: Truer words…) Now, I could put just about any song off of the Counting Crows album “August and Everything After” on my list, because that’s one of my all time favorites, and I could listen to just about any of the songs at any time of year. And yes, their songs like “Hangin’ Around,” “Angels of the Silences” and “A Murder of One” are much more stereotypically summery, but for the grouping I was going for, my “listening to while basking in a glorious summer sunset” list, “Anna Begins” really works for me. Not even 100% sure why, but it does.

C: Have to say, I’m with E on “Anna Begins.” One of my favorite songs, but way too melancholy in tone to be summery. Also, the lyrics evoke images of night and darkness, whereas to me, summer songs ought to feel sunshiney. Even if that’s not what this summer has been like! A sunshiney song, to my mind, is one like The Cure’s “Mint Car” or some cheery oldies like “Build Me Up, Buttercup” or “So Happy Together.” And as M mentioned, BNL’s got the right feel – I saw a lot of their concerts in summertime back in the day, and though some of their music is dark, tunes like “If I Had $1,000,000,” “The Old Apartment” and “Jane” have a good drive-with-the-windows-down beat.

M: You know how much I love BNL, but I’m not sure I’m with you on “Jane” fitting that bill. “Who Needs Sleep”, definitely, but “Jane” not so much.

E: That makes me think, C, that there are subsets to summer songs. There are driving songs, like “Life is a Highway” or The Proclaimers “500 Miles,” and there are summer night songs, songs replete with nostalgia for summers past like 10,000 Maniacs “Verdi Cries” and REM’s “Nightswimming.” I still don’t think “Anna Begins” fits into that category, either, but you only have to listen to the lyrics to know that one’s about the night, and (in as cliched a phrase as possible) the night time of the soul.

M: Like I said, not exactly sure why, but I think its probably some memory from when I first heard or started to like it, or the crescendo near the end, or some combination of both that put it in that category me. And for the record, you two are banging on one of my choices as being moody and melancholy, and then you put an REM song in your list? Come on, you’re talking about a band that had to bring in one of the B-52’s just to come up with a song that people didn’t want to kill themselves to. Not that “Nightswmming” is particularly their most down beat, and not that their depressing music isn’t fantastic, but still.

E: Oh, whatever, you’re just grasping at straws. Anyway, moving right along (which could be a summer song!), C, you’re making it harder and harder for me to refrain from naming one of your favorite songs. Hurry up already!

C: Sorry E, maybe I should just let you post for me! “Nightswimming” was on my list of songs I associate with summers of the past, as are Fastball’s “The Way,” Smashmouth’s “All Star” and “Walking on the Sun” (I remember one night spent waiting for it to come on the radio so I could tape it!), Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” and OMC’s “How Bizarre.”

These days, though, when I want summer music I think more in terms of whole albums, ranging from Carbon Leaf’s Indian Summer, Stars’ Set Yourself on Fire, the Veronica Mars soundtrack, cheery instrumental soundtracks like Anne of Green Gables or Wives and Daughters, and jazz classics like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra.

But the song I know you want me to mention is “Dela” by Johnny Clegg & Savuka. It’s a bright dancy tune, but truthfully, I think of it as a song for any occasion!

M: Definitely a great song, and a must listen for anyone not fortunate enough to know it. And since C finally got that you, that’ll be our list for now. Feel free to add your own, tell us where our lists went wrong, or just further demolish my selection and explain why Anna Begins doesn’t work as a summer song!

This entry was posted in Music.

22 comments on “Roundtable: Summertime, and the Music is Easy

  1. jamesgin says:


    I gotta say, on the topic of Summertime, that oh so wonderful Porgy and Bess hit, there are two covers I’d like to bring your attention to.

    First up is Jason Rebello’s amazing piano jazz/hip-hop vibe rendition from his 1997 album Make It Real. If you can get your hands on it, listen. I could probably help you out with that.

    Next is this fantastic video of Billy Preston playing the Hammond B3 organ. Truly psychedelic and loaded with character 🙂

    This is my first ever blog comment! Found you guys by clicking on the music tag. New to this.

    Have fun,


    • E says:

      James, thanks for sharing! My husband is a musician; he’s going to love that Hammond B3 link. (As did I, of course, but that is right up his alley.)

      So, thanks again! 🙂

  2. hung bui says:

    I was thrownback to a long-forgotten summer when I heard “Right Here Waiting For You” by Richard Marx the other day in the car.

    • M says:

      As I was typing the comment below the radio outside my office started playing “Thank You” by Dido, which takes me back to the summer that came out. Had to share.

    • E says:

      Mmm, and we didn’t mention Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer”, either, which is also a great summer tune. (Feeling nostalgic about a summer song about feeling nostalgic for lost summers…) And Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” – how did we forget that one?

  3. hung bui says:

    I’d like to submit a formal request for a review on Fringe. I’d like to know what the siblings think. “C” was a big X-Files fan. The shows are similar in some ways.

    Yea or Nay?

    • M says:

      We were all big X Files fans, actually. The shows do have some similarities, though a fair number of differences, too.

      We’ll have to do a breakdown, though it may just be E that dissects it with me, I think that C has only watched the pilot episode, and has not heeded my plea for her to get as addicted to it as I am.

      • C says:

        I’ve watched 6 or 7 episodes at this point – give me some credit. But I tend to watch TV shows with my roommates, and they don’t like it. Also, I haven’t hit that point where it supposedly “gets really good” yet…

    • E says:

      Ditto what M said. He and can probably take on Fringe, either as a primer or when it returns.

  4. shasas says:

    best summer tune this year by FAR:

    “I got a feeling” black eyed peas!

    • E says:

      Great song! The Black Eyed Peas are brilliant for summer music. They’ve got the bright, party sound down. The kids love them, too. “Imma Be” is their favorite – have you heard that?

  5. Matt says:

    TUBTHUMPING! Nice one indeed. Best experienced when you’re on some hot pavement, where you can jump and stomp and punch the air along to it.

  6. Krizzzz says:

    I’ll grant Tubthumping as a summery song in its upbeat-ness…but I’m afraid I’ll forever associate it with figure skating’s Todd Eldredge. During whichever Olympics it was…they made a wonderful montage of him crashing, getting up, crashing, coming back, crashing, putting his dislocated shoulder back in, getting up….

  7. Krizzzz says:

    I notice that some of my summer ones are also college tunes. Must be the whole “time spent with friends” thing. =) Oh, and songs from mixes made by E, which she tended to mail to me in the summer, and which often went in the walkman (the walkman!) during long walks/runs.

    Love Song for a Savior
    You Put this Love in my Heart
    Verdi Cries
    500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be)
    Nobody’s Girl (sad song, but from the drive to Cape Week)
    Brown Eyed Girl
    Simeon the Whale
    Who Will Save Your Soul (from an E mix)
    Murder of One
    (various big bandy swing/cha cha works)
    All I Want is You
    Table for Two (a little introspective, but I spent a LOT of time running/walking that summer, playing this mix)
    Birdhouse in Your Soul (CAPE!)
    Joy to the World
    Richard Marx takes me back to high school summer.
    Life is a Highway would work nicely.
    Just got a flash of “Walk the Dinosaur,” but I don’t know why. High school.
    Lots of Counting Crows. Rain King? Raining in Baltimore? (too thoughtful for a lot of summer, except for long train rides)
    Sunshine on my Shoulders (un-hip, but go with it: you’re lying in a field, in the sun, birds tweet tweeting, ahhhh)
    Fields of Gold (maybe more late summer, early fall)
    Never Been Gone (Carly Simon)

    • M says:

      Your list includes of a lot that I hadn’t remembered but would definitely be on my own, many through E’s influence (Birdhouse in Your Soul, 500 Miles) and some just organically (Richard Marx, Fields of Gold, etc), but seeing Brown Eyed Girl made me wonder how we wrote the entire post (having edited it many times) and made several comments after, and not once did Van Morrison cross into my mind. UGH! I LOVE Van Morrison, and so many of his songs are perfect summer songs. Thanks Kriz!

    • E says:

      Like M, I can’t believe I didn’t think of so many of those songs – especially since I got you hooked on them in the first place! Love “Table For Two”, love “Birdhouse in Your Soul”, “Fields of Gold,” and “Roam”. Great stuff!

      I owe you for “Verdi Cries”, big time.

      And of course M and I grew up loving John Denver. “Sunshine On my Shoulders” is a glorious summer song.

    • E says:

      PS – I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of any Santana. Not that it was claiming to be a complete list, but still.

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