When I was growing up we had an old Ford station wagon that my mother would fill with kids in the summertime and drive to Biscay Pond for swimming lessons. The car had an 8 track player and we had three tapes, Glen Campbell - Gentle on My Mind, Paul McCartney - McCartney I (Cherries) and Herb Alpert – Fresh Cream, and an AM radio. Between the 8 tracks and the Top 40 sounds from WRKO in Boston we had music. Although we did have to wait around for the DJs to play any one, particular song (I remember Alice Cooper’s School’s Out being the song we couldn’t get enough of in the summer of 1972).
Music was necessary for the car trips. Not only did it provide the soundtrack for summer, but it kept us focused and prevented us from fighting with each other, which went a long way toward preserving my mother’s sanity.
For this edition of the blog, rather than focus on an artist or the record they’ve produced, I wanted to focus on the sounds of summer. The following is a list of good songs with the word summer in the title.
You can find these songs yourself by searching for the song title as a keyword search, or as a title search, and limiting the format to Music CD.
Summertime is the centerpiece of Porgy & Bess (composed in 1934), one of the best-known works of George & Ira Gershwin & Dubose Heyward. Porgy & Bess has amazing music, but Summertime, had a life of its own and is one of the most-recorded songs of the 20th century.
We have several versions of the song. My favorites are Janis Joplin’s cover from Cheap Thrills, a searing, passionate interpretation complete with great guitar leads. And Pete Seeger’s stripped down, back-to-basics, banjo and vocal version which, upon several plays, captures the same passion. The last is the version by The Wailin’ Jennys, a luscious a cappella, three-part harmony.
Big Brother and the Holding Company (Janis Joplin) - Cheap Thrills
Janis Joplin - Janis Joplin’s Greatest
Janis Joplin - 18 Essential Songs
Pete Seeger - American Favorite Ballads
Wailin’ Jennys - Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House
Summer Wind performed by Frank Sinatra, the Chairman of the Board working his magic as only he could do.
Frank Sinatra - The Reprise Collection
Frank Sinatra - Ultimate Sinatra
One Week Last Summer. A great, Jazzy instrumental which won the 2008 Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.
Joni Mitchell - Shine
White Summer/Black Mountain Side. This Guitar-centered instrumental was a staple of Zeppelin’s live shows and reveals Jimmy Page’s Folk, Indian and Arabic influences. It is based on the old Irish folk song, 'She Moved Through the Fair'.
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (remastered, deluxe edition)
In the Summer is a toe-tapping, folky tune as only Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Hot Fun in the Summertime was released in the wake of Sly and the Family Stone's stellar performance at Woodstock
Sly & the Family Stone - Greatest Hits
Sly Stone - I’m Back! Family & Friends
Summer in the City appeared on the Lovin' Spoonful’s, Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1966, for three consecutive weeks
Various Artists - Pure 60s
Suddenly Last Summer form The Motels 1983 album Little Robbers. Lead singer Martha Davis has said in various interviews that she wrote the song while reflecting on her life and "how you know summer is ending when you hear the ice cream truck go by for the last time and you know he won't be back for a while".
Various Artists - Like, Omigod!: The 80$ pop culture box (totally)
The Boys of Summer by Eagles drummer Don Henley. In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, Henley explained that the song is more about aging and questioning the past, a recurring theme in Henley's lyrics
Don Henley - Building the Perfect Beast
Don Henley - Actual Miles: Greatest Hits
Summer Nights, is a duet by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the musical Grease, became a massive hit in both the United States and United Kingdom during the summer of 1978. You couldn’t tune the radio on without hearing something from the film.
John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John - Grease Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Summertime Blues is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. It was originally intended as a single B-side and was released in August 1958. Springsteen opened with this song on the 1979 Darkness Tour.
Alan Jackson - 34 Number Ones
The library has copies of all of these great releases so head on down to your local branch, pick up one or two!