Summer soundtrack

It’s smokin’ hot out there.  Summertime and I am loving it.  Time to lose the shoes, roll down the windows, feel the wind in your face (or through your hair if you’ve got it), and cue the summer tunes.

Trouble is, I’m stuck inside writing a paper to wrap up a doctoral course.  (Yes, I’m dodging the deadline in front of me right now – apologies to Dr. Jimmy Dunn but the paper will come in on time).  I needed a little musical reminder of summer while I’m cloistered away in libraries and studies during my spare summer moments.  So here are a few of the songs that will populate some of my summer playlist.

Why these?  Summer music shouldn’t be complicated or overly intense; just simple and with a lilt of joy.  For me, there’s a bunch of different criterion for good summer soundtrack music.  Does it get me moving or swaying, tapping my feet or pumping my hands in the air?  Can I doze asleep to it on a lazy summer day or lounge with it on a hot summers night?  Does it sound fun?  How will it play with the windows down and roof open barrelling down the road?  How does it mix with the sound of waves or loons or a crackling fire in the background?  Does it make me smile?  If it can meet any one of those criterion, it’ll find its way on my playlist.

In no order, here’s a few of my favourites

  • King of the road – the Proclaimers (sung with a thick Scottish brogue, this is the perfect road tune.  Get your kilt on, open up the sunroof and enjoy the ride)
  • Sink or Swim – the Waifs (a little piece from this Aussie band has finger snapping and great harmonica. Besides, I’m thinking summer Folk Fest here.  No better summer memories than the many years of the Calgary Folk Music Festival on Prince’s Island Park.  Get the full four day pass and lounge on a blanket for fabulous days of music, sunshine and great people watching)
  • The heart of Saturday night – Shawn Colvin (Shawn Colvin singing Tom Waits – too good.  It’s a pitch-perfect evocation of summer evening cruising in the car, no matter where your main drag is)
  • Ants Marching – Dave Matthews (I love how this song gets my body moving – strong drums, great violin rhythms, soaring sax.  This song is what summer does – an invitation to stop the rushing around and break out of your routine)
  • Soak up the sun – Sheryl Crowe (to me, this beats The Beach Boys for a sense of California beach music)
  • Love Shack – The B-52’s (this was my daughter Lily’s immediate pick when I asked about songs for a summer soundtrack.  And don’t the B-52’s scream dance party?)
  • These are the days – 10,000 maniacs (because Natalie Merchant is magic and a good reminder to simply be present to all that is today)
  • Pump it up – Elvis Costello (this is musical Red Bull)
  • Say hey (I love you) – Michael Franti and Spearhead (Ok, go ahead and add Franti’s “Sound of Sunshine” but I think this is the better summer tune.  He had everyone up on our feet dancing the night away when we saw him a few years ago)
  • Ten Thousand Words – The Avett Brothers (play this on a warm night on the back deck or front porch, and you could almost imagine Seth and Scott with you, picking their guitars and you picking up the harmonies.  Cannot wait to see them later this September)
  • Mysterious Ways – U2 (a superb guitar hook, conga rhythms, this is U2 at its funkiest)
  • It’s the end of the world – Great Big Sea (these Newfies throw one big kitchen party wherever they go and just keeping up with this song is half the fun)
  • Have a little fun with me – Glen Phillips (captures the playful heart of summer.  Go ahead and grow a little younger this summer)
  • Dancing in the street – Martha Reeves (classic)
  • Boogie Shoes – KC and the Sunshine band (in our house, this song means instant “dance party.”  We put down whatever we’re doing and put on our boogie shoes)
  • The ghost of rockschool - Belle and Sebastian (love this song and this band.  That’s all)
  • Police on my back – The Clash (just a little reminder to keep it safe people)
  • Winter Song – The Head and the Heart (you know its coming, sooner or later, so stop complaining about the heat already!  And what’s not to love about The Head and the Heart)

So what’s on your summer playlist?

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  1. #1 by Kevin Livingston on July 19, 2012 - 5:07 pm

    Hey Phil. What a cool post in such hot weather! I love many of your selections and need to get to know some of the others. I’m dating myself, but here goes. Some of my top picks are…

    The immortal Beatles with “Here Comes the Sun” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” put me in a slowed-down frame of mind…

    Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” I love the piano and harmonies in this sweet song…

    Gipsy Kings “Djobi Djoba” with its incredibly intense Spanish flamenco vibe…

    Carlos Santana and Michelle Branch’s “The Game of Love.” The video version reeks of summer heat in more ways than one…

    Bruce Cockburn’s acoustic live version of “Night Train”… There’s something about the amazing guitar riffs and the his haunting voice that I love…

    and yes, the Beach Boys “All Summer Long.” When I was graduating from high school back in 1974 and the soundtrack for the movie ‘American Graffiti’ came out, with this song as the feature track. I must have played that record a thousand times…

    Blessings, Kevin Livingston

    • #2 by phil on July 19, 2012 - 8:58 pm

      Kevin – thanks for the great summer song choices – great summer music from every era!

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