Dilovely’s Playlist: 30 Summer-Sunshiny Beat-the-Winter-Blues Songs

It’s the first day of spring! Maybe if we talk about warm weather, it will happen.

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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!

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Dilovely’s Playlist: 20 Sad Songs that Sound Happy

I know I’m not the only one having a mercurial November. It’s an odd month for a lot of us (including the thermometer). In honour of the confusing nature of the in-between season, let’s pick up our spirits with some songs that are tragic but sound lively and fun. K?

  1. Tears of a Clown (1967) – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. A very distinctive song with its circus-type theme and high catchiness factor… but it’s all about loneliness and regret.
  2. Build Me Up Buttercup (1968) – The Foundations. So singable, such a fun song to listen to – especially considering it’s the words of a desperate man begging for scraps of attention.
  3. Bad Moon Rising (1969) – Creedence Clearwater Revival. Trouble starts with the fourth word of the song, and doesn’t let up. And yet, you could practically polka to this.
  4. I Want you Back (1969) – The Jackson 5. One of my favourite songs EVER, brimming with energy and awesomeness… and more begging, not to mention tear stains on the ground.
  5. You Left the Water Running (1976) – Otis Redding. (Actually that’s just the most famous version – he didn’t write it – and it was recorded in ’66 but not released until ten years later). My favourite rendition is from Huey Lewis and the News’ Four Chords and Several Years Ago – the piano part totally makes me dance around. (Not that this is hard to do.)
  6. Angel Eyes (1979) – Abba. There were actually several Abba candidates – “Knowing Me, Knowing You” is another one; and of course “Mamma Mia”… and they all rock so much it’s hard to decide.
  7. I Don’t Like Mondays (1979) – The Boomtown Rats. This song is about an actual school shooting perpetrated on a Monday in 1979 by a severely effed-up 16-year-old girl in California. She fired into a schoolyard from her house across the street, because she was bored. (Her dad gave her the rifle for Christmas, so there you go.) Horrible plot, great instrumentation.
  8. Hungry Heart (1980) – Bruce Springsteen. Festive song in which Narrator leaves his wife and kids in Baltimore in the second line – and we never hear from them again, poor folks.
  9. Jessie’s Girl (1981) – Rick Springfield. I think a lot of us can relate to unrequited love/lust for someone who’s already taken; we just don’t usually turn our angst into wicked 80s power chords.
  10. Invisible Touch (1986) – Genesis. About a woman who grabs right hold o’ your heart – and tears you apart. And I challenge anyone not to bop along to this infectious beat. Continue reading “Dilovely’s Playlist: 20 Sad Songs that Sound Happy”

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Dilovely’s Playlist: 25 Legendary Canadian Songs (x2!)

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Hey, beloved readers. Welcome to NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month)! In honour of this, and in accordance with tradition, I will be challenging myself to post something every day. (We shall see if I manage.) If you are totally sick of me by the end of November, I will have done my job. 🙂

My first post for November is inspired by CBC Radio, whose 75th anniversary is TOMORROW! Or probably today, by the time you read this. (And just happens to coincide with my own Bloggiversary.) CBC has been compiling a list of Canada’s greatest songs from each decade… and I’ve been putting off looking at it so I could create my own list without cheating. Just so you know, CBC Radio 2 will be doing a through-the-decades countdown tomorrow… and I kinda wish I could skip school just to listen to it.

So we’re looking at great Canadian songs. Hang onto your hats, folks, it’s a double whammy. (Are you excited yet??)

First up, I thought about songs that have, in my humble estimation, become part of the very fabric of Canadian culture and will be sung for centuries to come. They’re not necessarily my absolute favourites (some are), but they are populace-approved and I am confident in their staying power. I tried to keep it to 20 but THERE WERE TOO MANY! I could go on and on!

So here’s my genre-sweeping list of 25 Canadian Songs I Believe Have Achieved the Status Of Legendary and Never-To-Be-Forgotten:

  1. Diana (1957), by Paul Anka. The Justin Bieber of his time, apparently in love with his babysitter. A word to the wise: if you’re writing a romantic song to your unrequited love, saying “You’re so old” in the first line is not going to help your cause. (The fact that this song’s title is my name has nothing to do with this choice.)
  2. Magic Carpet Ride (1968), by Steppenwolf. The essence of psychedelic, at least in my mind.
  3. These Eyes (1968), by the Guess Who. Already a song for the ages, it was endearingly re-immortalized for a new generation by Canuck Michael Cera in Superbad. Come on. Who can resist this kind of sincerity?
  4. The Weight (1968), by The Band. No idea what it’s really about, but it’s fun to listen to and even funner to sing along. (Yes, I know funner isn’t a word.) Continue reading “Dilovely’s Playlist: 25 Legendary Canadian Songs (x2!)”

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Dilovely’s Playlist: 20 Favourite Pick-Me-Up Songs

As promised ages ago, I have made y’all a playlist of “uppers”, as my brother calls them: songs that I put on when I need a mood-lifter, ones that are infectiously happy, or just have a melody that makes a body feel good. These are by no means the only 20 songs I would put in such a list – in fact, there could probably be many more volumes.

Just so you know, I have lots of related playlists brewing, such as “Songs for Grooving to with a Baby”, “Songs that Rock My Socks”, “Beautiful Songs that Pluck My Heartstrings”, “Symphonic Music That Makes the World Better”, “Must-Dance Songs”, and “Canadian Songs that Shall Be Immortal”. Please stay tuned.

I hope you will

a) enjoy perusing the list and perhaps checking out some songs, because we can all use another pick-me-up; and

b) add to the list!! It is fascinating to know what songs make people grin or dance like fools or belt out loud in their cars or kitchens. Please share with me.

Dilovely’s Playlist of 20 Favourite Pick-Me-Up Songs:

  1. You Make My Dreams (1980), by Hall & Oates. I’m a sucker for 80s pop – just so happy.
  2. Accidentally in Love (2004), by Counting Crows. I can feel myself turning a little faster and jumping a little higher.
  3. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976), by Elton John and Kiki Dee. Too fun to be glum – or sit still, for that matter.
  4. Only One (2007), by Jeremy Kay. You stimulate my mind too, Jeremy – thanks.
  5. Good Lovin’ (1966), by The Rascals. I’m also a sucker for oldies with tight harmonies.
  6. Shine (2007), by Take That. We are AWESOME! We are the best, shiniest people ever.
  7. Right by Your Side (1983), by Eurythmics. It’s not often we get such a burst of euphoria from Annie Lennox… and I like it.
  8. Love You I Do (2006, a la 1963), sung by Jennifer Hudson, from the Dreamgirls Soundtrack. You just can’t beat exuberant Motown brass.
  9. Every Little Thing She Does is Magic (1981), by the Police. A perfect combination of epic and ecstatic – plus, really fun video! I just discovered it today.
  10. Procura (1997), by Chichi Peralta. It’s everything I love about Latin music – and you should have seen my Grade 2 music class go nuts for it!
  11. Down Rideau Canal (2006), by James Hill. This Canuck ukulele artist is just… amazing. I dare you to watch this without smiling. Also, the most shimmying I’ve ever done was a solo to this song (the CD version is a whole minute longer).
  12. Don’t Stop Me Now (1978), by Queen. If Freddy wants to make a super-sonic woman outta me, I won’t stop him.
  13. Birdhouse in Your Soul (1990), by They Might Be Giants. After 20 years, I still have no idea what they’re talking about, but the glorious song lives on.
  14. The Set-Up (1998), by Reel Big Fish. Immature punks with potty mouths… and incredible musical talent. (Actually, no real swearing in this one.)
  15. Take Me Down (1996), by Phil Collins. Isn’t it amazing how these balding, middle-aged dudes can rock? It doesn’t hurt that I’m also a sucker for the African influence.
  16. Lovin’ Each Day (2000), by Ronan Keating. The epitome of catchiness, in a good way. Don’t be afraid to bop along.
  17. Jump (1984), by Van Halen. So hard-core, and yet so sweet! Let’s jump, people.
  18. Soul Man (1967), by Sam and Dave. I know I’m not qualified to say this, but leave it to a black musician (Isaac Hayes) to take inspiration from the Detroit Street Riot and turn it into the funkiest, foot-tappingest, proudest anthem you could ask for.
  19. Koff Drops (1989), by Moe Koffman. A fantastic Canadian jazz flautist re-imagines a Bach (?) sonata and it’s pure awesomeness. It was also the theme for CBC’s As It Happens for a while, and when I was a kid I always looked forward to the few moments we got to hear this song – right around dinnertime.
  20. C’est l’amour (2002), by Youssou N’Dour. From a very political artist, a simple and beautiful song about how you can’t eat or sleep when you’re wishing for the one you love. (I’d think whoever she was, she could’ve been won over with this.)

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