It’s the first day of spring! Maybe if we talk about warm weather, it will happen.
When I was a teenager, I made a mix tape every summer. This was back in the days when there was no hipster definition of the term “mixtape”; when mixes were made on actual cassette tapes, and the process involved piles of tapes, painstaking rewinding and forwarding to find songs, hovering in readiness to stop at the right moment, and deciding whether the convenience of high-speed dubbing was worth the loss in quality.
By gum, kids making mixes these days don’t know how good they have it.
To me, a summer mix is a sacred thing. It needs songs that are true anthems of summer, but it also needs songs that are just good, classic, solid songs to sing along to – preferably ones that evoke, with their vocals and/or instrumentation, sun/sand/porches/patios/hammocks/dappled shade.
Right now, here in Southern Ontario, we’ve had some tantalizingly mild days, but the cold keeps coming back. Meanwhile, on the East Coast of Canada, they just keep getting more snow to decorate the 40 cm they got a few days ago. And now the Northeastern States are expecting Winter Storm Ultima for spring, just to remind them who’s boss (i.e., not the calendar). Sigh.
This is for all the folks who are finding that winter just won’t quit. I’m posting it with all the warm, sunny vibes I can muster.
1. Here For A Good Time, by Trooper (1977). It’s danceable, singable, air-drummable, and frankly just captures the whole essence of summer: you know it will be gone in a blink, so make the most of it.
2. The Tide Is High, by Blondie (1980). I love the sunny brass and the steel drums in this one – not to mention the sweet vintage video – although the original by the Paragons is great too.
3. Good Vibrations, by the Beach Boys (1966). I know, it’s not a surfing song. Sadly, I’m not a California Girl and I don’t live anywhere near the ocean. But we all can relate to good vibrations, while enjoying the surfy sound of the BBoys.
4. Stir It Up, by Bob Marley (1973). Practically any Marley song could work here, since they’re all so mellow and sunny, but I’m partial to this one.
5. Sunny Days, by Lighthouse (1972). It’s so fun and quaint, and yet I love the line, “Ain’t nothin’ better in the world, you know, than lyin’ in the sun with your radio…” Even in our screen-obsessed age, it’s still true. Simple and awesome.
6. Me Enamoré, by Chichi Peralta (1998). You can’t help but dance to this li’l song about falling in love (like never before), and the exuberant Latin sound conjures palm trees and margaritas. (In my mind. I wish it could actually conjure them.)
7. This Is The Right Time, by the Corrs (1995). They speak true – sometimes the sunshine in your window is the perfect catalyst for creativity. Be in the zone.
8. Jack & Diane, by John Mellencamp (1982). It may just a little ditty, but the word “classic” doesn’t even do it justice. (I happened to have this one on my summer mix in 1994, the year I could sing “Hold onto sixteen as long as you can” with especial fervency.)
9. Summer in the City, by the Lovin’ Spoonful (1966). When I was a kid, my sisters and best friend and I produced a “Sounds of the 60s” singin’-and-dancin’ spectacle for our families and neighbours, based on – what else? – a cassette tape of 60s pop masterpieces. I have loved this song ever since.
10. Walls Fall Down, by Bedouin Sound Clash (2007). As mentioned above, NSS/SV: not strictly a “summer” song, but a summery vibe. And a good message.
11. Saturday In The Park, by Chicago (1973). So many images, you feel like you’re there with the ice cream. Yes, we can dig it.
12. Brown-Eyed Girl, by Van Morrison (1967). Green grass, waterfalls, sunlight, laughing, running, skipping… Perfect. (Kinda made me wish I had brown eyes, back in the day.)
13. Le baiser, by Alain Souchon (1999). This song is actually about a mysterious (kissing) encounter with a stranger on a beach in winter, but to me it sounds like summer. Mostly the guitar, but also because it talks about Dunkerque and Malo Bray-Dunes, which is where I lived in France, and I got to know the song when my time there was almost over, just starting to break into warmth. The lyrics are pure poetry.
14. Groovin’, by The Young Rascals (1967). Could there be a more quintessential hot-lazy-days sound than this?
15. Simple Pleasures, by David Myles (2011). Love this guy (whom I happen to have seen in concert). He knows what’s important in life.
16. Ukulelove, by Dilovely (2014). Whoops, did I just stick that in there with all these other legit songs? Why yes, yes I did. Mostly because the Hawaii pictures can’t help but cheer you up if you have the winter blues. *insert winky face.*
17. Red Red Wine, by UB40 (1983). Sad song, happy groove. There are other UB40 songs I like more, but this one gets people singing the most.
18. Hot Fun in the Summertime, by Sly & The Family Stone (1969). It speaks for itself.
19. Sweet Home Alabama, by Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974). Again, NSS/SV – especially if you’ve seen Jenny and Forrest dancing to it in Forrest Gump (and if you haven’t, wha??). This song’s iconic guitar riff is one of only two things I’ve ever learned on the guitar. And if you’re interested, the politics of the lyrics are more complex than they seem.
20. Jump In The Line, by Harry Belafonte (1961). Gotta have some calypso on the list, and no one compares with the legendary Harry. I loved this song as a kid, back when I had no idea of Belafonte’s varied and inspiring activism. (Also, did you know it was originally composed by Trinidadian calypsonian Lord Kitchener? Thanks, Wikipedia.)
21. Summer of ’69, by Bryan Adams (1984). Because naturally, this list would not be complete without it. Plus, it explicitly mentions the porch.
22. Beast of Burden, by The Rolling Stones (1978). NSS/SV. Sooo mellow and… dare I say, grassy?
23. In The Summertime, by Mungo Jerry (1970). Not politically correct, per se, but so sincere at the time. Plus, jug solo.
24. Long Time Running, by The Tragically Hip (1991). NSS/SV. It doesn’t get more laid-back than this. And the “long, long, long time coming” bit seems to go poetically with summer, for many of us.
25. Montego Bay, by Amazulu (1986). Sounds like paradise – except I’d be more vigilant with the sunscreen, myself. Original by Bobby Bloom is good too.
26. Dela, by Johnny Clegg & Savuka (1989). NSS/SV, simply one of the best songs ever. (Only now am I finding out from YouTube that it was in George of the Jungle… huh. Not sure I’m down with that.)
27. Here Comes The Sun, by the Beatles (1969). Even if you can’t see it yet, the sun is coming. It’s all right.
28. Under African Skies, by Paul Simon (1986). NSS/SV. Just a gorgeous, twinkly-starry song, with “the powerful pulsing of love in the veins.”
29. Reggae Night, by Jimmy Cliff (1984). At the end of a long summer day, the ground is stays warm and it’s time to dance with all your friends. And if you’re wondering, all your friends are in this song, singing along.
30. Sleep Walk, by Santo & Johnny (1959). Finally, it’s time to get into your hammock on the beach, and nod off to the sound of the waves.
How do you feel now? Sunny and happy??
Just in case you need a little extra, here’s one for the kiddies:
And a sizzling hot number for the symphonic music-lovers:
And that should do it. YOU’RE WELCOME. Happy spring!
[ad name=”Med Rec”]