Happy First Day of Summer! Here’s a “Summertime” box set. I will now take your questions.
Q: Are there good “summer” songs omitted from these four mixes?
A: Yes, of course there are. I came up with an additional 133 songs that I did not use.
Q: Will you assemble more mixes including those songs?
A: If I had world enough and time,… I would. But…. [Long pause.] Yes — the young man in beige?
Q: Beyond “Summertime,” does each mix have any additional theme or mood?
A: Yes. The first three are all uptempo. The fourth is more midtempo, even quiet, and contains the highest proportion of melancholic songs. So, if you want something a little more calm, head for the fourth one.
Summertime, vol. 1: Let’s Get Away from It All
1) In the Summertime Mungo Jerry (1970) 3:33
Named for a line in a T.S. Eliot poem, this band had its biggest hit with this song. Shaggy also recorded a hit version of this in the mid-1990s
2) Heat Wave Ethel Waters with Bunny Berigan, trumpet; Benny Goodman, clarinet (1933) 3:03
Written by Irving Berlin for the musical As Thousands Cheer, where it was performed by the great Ethel Waters — whom you hear in this recording, backed by Bunny Berigan and Benny Goodman.
3) (Love Is Like A) Heatwave Martha Reeves & The Vandellas (1963) 2:43
Composed by the crack songwriting team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland Jr., this song was a top ten hit in 1963.
4) Summer in the City The Lovin’ Spoonful (1966) 2:43
A #1 hit for the Lovin’ Spoonful.
5) Vacation The Go-Go’s (1982) 3:00
“Now that I’m away, / I wish I’d stayed.” The title track to the Go-Go’s second album.
6) Holiday Vampire Weekend (2010) 2:18
“To go away on a summer’s day never seemed so clear.” From Vampire Weekend’s Contra.
7) Island in the Sun Weezer (2001) 3:20
“We’ll never feel bad anymore.” From Weezer [The Green Album].
8) Let’s Get Away From It All Gene Krupa with Anita O’Day and band, vocals (1941) 3:08
“Let’s take a kayak / To Quincy or Nyack” or, no, “Let’s take a powder / To Boston for Chowder.” Love the couplets, and the band’s shouted responses to Anita O’Day’s vocals. “Let’s take a trip to Niagara. / This time we’ll look at the falls.” Band replies: “What? No romance?”
9) A Mid-80s Lower-middle Class Family Summer Road Trip The Very Most (2010) 4:17
From A Year with the Very Most.
10) Hot Fun in the Summer Time Sly & The Family Stone (1969) 2:38
A #2 hit from the summer of 1969.
11) I Wanna Be a Lifeguard blotto (1980) 4:15
I first heard this song on the Dr. Demento Show. MTV also played it, back in the early days of the network.
12) Rockaway Beach Ramones (1977) 2:05
Ramones’ homage to the Beach Boys. See also “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker.”
13) Surfin’ U.S.A. The Beach Boys (1963) 2:29
The Beach Boys’ first mega hit borrows its melody from Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.”
14) Magic The Cars (1984) 4:00
“It’s like a merry-go-round.’ Also, “Twisted under sideways down.” Indeed. Produced by Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Below, the deeply silly video. Enjoy!
15) Summerfling k.d. lang (2000) 4:16
From lang’s Invincible Summer.
16) Jogging Gorgeous Summer Islands (2006) 2:48
From Islands’ Return to the Sea.
17) Girls in Their Summer Clothes Bruce Springsteen (2007) 4:19
From Springsteen’s Magic.
18) It Must Be Summer Fountains of Wayne (1999) 3:19
“And the sun keeps shining ’til it’s dead and gone. / And it must be summer ’cause I can’t go on.” Power pop with melancholic lyrics. Fountains of Wayne’s new record, Sky Full of Holes, is due out later this summer.
19) The Other Side of Summer Elvis Costello (1991) 3:56
“I feel glad in my own suspicious way.”
20) Cruel Summer Bananarama (1984) 3:37
In the U.S., this song and their cover of “Venus” were this group’s biggest hits, but they had more chart success in their native U.K.
21) Summertime Blues Eddie Cochran (1958) 1:59
Covered by T. Rex, Blue Cheer, and many others — but here’s the original. For a guy who only lived to be 21 years old, Eddie Cochran had a remarkable impact on popular music. In particular, check out his “Somethin’ Else,” “C’mon Everybody,” and “Nervous Breakdown.”
22) Sunny Afternoon The Kinks (1966) 3:34
Ray Davies, adopting the persona of a petulant millionaire. A #1 U.K. hit, and a #14 U.S. hit.
23) Sunshine Atmosphere (2007) 3:37
“Feelin alright, stopped at a stop sign / A car pulled up, bumpin’ Fresh Prince’s ‘Summertime.'”
24) Summertime DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1991) 4:32
Borrowing Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness,” DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (a.k.a. Will Smith) score their final and biggest hit.
Summertime, vol. 2: Good Vibrations
1) Why Does the Sun Shine? Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans (1959) 2:41
You’ve probably heard They Might Be Giants’ cover of this, but have you heard the original? It appears on Space Songs, one of several educational records Tom Glazer cut in the late 1950s.
2) Why Does the Sun Really Shine? They Might Be Giants (2009) 1:52
Turns out scientists now know more about how the sun works. For their album Here Comes Science, They Might Be Giants updates “Why Does the Sun Shine?”
3) Summer Sun Koop (2001) 3:48
From the Swedish duo Koop. Appears on their album, Waltz for Koop.
4) Blue Skies Frank Sinatra with Tommy Dorsey & His Orchestra (1941) 3:18
Music and lyrics by Irving Berlin.
5) Good Day Sunshine The Beatles (1966) 2:10
“I take a walk, the sun is shining down. / Burns my feet as they touch the ground.” From Revolver.
6) It’s a Sunshine Day The Brady Bunch (1972) 2:32
“Can’t you dig the sunshine?” This ersatz pop group perform this song on a talent show (on their own hit TV series, The Brady Bunch), and place third. Hmm. I guess the judges had no appreciation for camp.
7) Automatically Sunshine Swan Dive (2002) 3:45
From the duo of Bill DeMain and Molly Felder (a.k.a. Swan Dive), a bit of happy summer pop. I knew Bill when I lived in Nashville. He once made me an incredible mix tape of Italian film soundtrack music. Someday, I should try to recreate it on CD — it was (and remains) one of my favorite mixes.
8) Mambo Sun T.Rex (1971) 3:41
The opening track from Electric Warrior, the record that brought you “Bang a Gong (Get It On).”
9) Blister in the Sun Nouvelle Vague (2009) 3:12
Love the ESL nonsensical lyrics in this — a cover of the first track from the Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut.
10) Too Darn Hot Ella Fitzgerald (1956) 3:51
From Ella Fitzgerald’s The Cole Porter Songbook, Vol. 1 — which I recommend to any fans of Fitzgerald or Porter.
11) Some Like It Hot The Power Station (1985) 5:05
This “supergroup” (the late Robert Palmer, Chic’s Tony Thompson, and Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Andy Taylor) also had a hit with a cover of T.Rex’s “Bang a Gong.”
12) Summertime Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (1999) 2:10
With music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, this song from Porgy and Bess gets a punk make-over. This version appears on Me First and the Gimme Gimmes’ Are a Drag — all covers of show tunes.
13) Here Comes the Summer The Undertones (1979) 1:43
Punk legends who really should be better known than they are. If you’ve never heard their “Teenage Kicks,” you’ll want to go and listen to it. Now.
14) Ice Cream Man John Brim (1953) 2:49
I’m a devotee of cover versions and I’ve heard the Van Halen rendition of this song, but I’ve yet to hear a recording that beats John Brim’s original. And yes, Mr. Brim is talking about what you think he’s talking about.
15) Ice Cream The Jolenes (2006) 2:43
Unlike the last song, this one — as far as I’m aware — is just about ice cream. I mean, I’m aware that one could perform it to bring out other meanings. But, in this rendition, it sounds quite literal (to me, at any rate).
16) June-teenth Jamboree Fatso Bentley (1950) 2:02
Juneteenth (celebrated June 19th) commemorates the ending of slavery, and is recognized in most but not all U.S. States.
17) On Vacation The Robot Ate Me (2004) 3:00
From the album of the same name.
18) You’re An Ocean Fastball (2000) 3:18
Powerpop from Fastball’s The Harsh Light of Day.
19) Wipe Out The Surfaris (1963) 2:41
The Surfaris’ biggest hit.
20) Good Vibrations The Beach Boys (1966) 3:37
Bringing the theremin to rock music! Yeah!
21) Soak Up the Sun Sheryl Crow (2002) 3:18
Is Sheryl Crow’s “friend the Communist” (in the first line of this song) the “vending machine repair man” who is “high on intellectualism” (in her “Everyday Is a Winding Road”)?
22) Sunny Bobby Hebb (1966) 2:49
Such a lovely song from the late Bobby Hebb.
23) Summer Nights John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John & Cast (1978) 3:37
From the film version of the musical Grease.
24) Red Hot Moon Rancid (2003) 3:36
“Take the bus downtown to the graveyard shift tonight.” From Rancid Indestructible.
25) Starless Summer Sky Marshall Crenshaw (1996) 3:25
Known for his sole hit “Someday, Someway,” Crenshaw deserves a larger audience. By way of introduction, I recommend This Is Easy: The Best of Marshall Crenshaw.
26) Long, Sweet Summer Night The Thorns (2003) 3:15
The Thorns are: Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, and Shawn Mullins. Or I should say “were” — they did one album (and a tour)… but that’s it.
Summertime, vol. 3: Sunshowers
1) Holiday Road Lindsey Buckingham (1983) 2:11
The theme to National Lampoon’s Vacation.
2) Walking on Sunshine Katrina & the Waves (1985) 4:01
Written by Kimberley Rew, who was also a member of the Soft Boys.
3) Feel the Sun The Goldbergs (2008) 2:41
Mmmm. Power pop. From the Goldbergs’ Under the Radar.
4) Catch a Wave The Beach Boys (1963) 2:11
From the collection Endless Summer, but originally released on Surfer Girl.
5) Surf Beat Dick Dale & His Del-Tones (1962) 3:01
Everyone knows Dick Dale’s version of “Misirlou,” but he cut a number of other great surf rock tunes — such as this one.
6) Ocean Bonerama (2007) 4:43
Led Zeppelin, as rendered by the trombone-tastic sounds of New Orleans’ Bonerama.
7) Sunshine Superman Donovan (1966) 4:34
I confess that I debated putting on Mel Torme’s cover of this on instead of Donovan’s original. It’s just as silly, but Mel knows how to bring the kitsch.
8) Sunshine Smiles Billie Burke Estate (2005) 2:10
From Give It All Away.
9) In the Sun She & Him (2010) 2:51
From Volume 2, which is just as great as Volume 1. Save time: get them both.
10) Sunshine Paul Westerberg (1996) 2:26
Paul Westerberg covers Jonathan Edwards. From the Friends soundtrack.
11) Sunshowers M.I.A. (2004) 3:17
This is the first song I heard by Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A., now best known for her “Paper Planes.” During a visit to Kansas, Scott McCloud introduced me to her work.
12) Walkin’ on the Sun Smash Mouth (1997) 3:27
The big hit from Fush Yu Mang.
13) You Dress Up For Armageddon, I Dress For Summer The Hives (2007) 3:10
From The Black and White Album.
14) Don’t Look Back Into the Sun The Libertines (2003) 2:58
Before Babyshambles and his tabloid fame, Pete Doherty led this band. Good stuff.
15) Turn My Back On the Sun Big Star (2005) 2:39
From their reunion record, In Space. Unless there are unreleased recordings lying around, this is also their last record (frontman Alex Chilton passed away last year).
16) You’re So Damn Hot OK Go (2002) 2:39
From the band’s self-titled debut album.
17) Hot Stuff Donna Summer (1979) 5:15
The chart-topping disco hit.
18) Love’s Crashing Waves Difford & Tilbrook (1984) 3:10
After Squeeze broke up in 1982, Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook cut a record as a duo. Released in 1984, it’s the “lost” Squeeze album between Sweets from a Stranger (1982) and Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti (1985)
19) 4th of July X (1987) 4:07
From X’s See How We Are.
20) 5 Years Time (Sun Sun Sun) Noah and the Whale (2008) 3:36
The first song I heard by Noah and the Whale, but they’ve many other memorable tunes: “L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.” and “Tonight’s the Kind of Night” are upbeat, “Blue Skies” is melancholic.
21) Another Sunny Day Belle & Sebastian (2006) 4:04
“You picked me up for a long drive. / We took the tourist route. / The nights are light until midnight.” From Belle & Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit.
22) Summer Love The Brunettes (2002) 2:31
From the New Zealand pop duo’s debut LP, Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks.
23) Tropicalia Beck (1998) 3:21
“Now you’ve had your fun / Under an air-conditioned sun.” From Beck’s Mutations.
24) Summer Samba (So Nice) [Samba de Verão] Walter Wanderley (1966) 3:07
From Rain Forest.
25) Ice Cream Truck 0:57
Exactly what it says — the sounds of an ice cream truck.
Summertime, vol. 4: That Summer Feeling
1) Summer Breeze Seals & Crofts (1972) 3:26
Jasmine is in their minds. And it is blowing.
2) The Summer Wind Madeleine Peyroux (2006) 3:55
You probably know Frank Sinatra’s recording, but I prefer this one. From Peyroux’s Half the Perfect World.
3) Groovin’ The Young Rascals (1967) 2:32
“Couldn’t get away too soon.” A #1 hit in 1967.
4) Ice Cream Song Dynamics (1969) 3:18
“Great God Almighty!”
5) When the Sun Goes Down Ben Gibbard (2011) 3:20
From the new Arthur soundtrack — one of two contributions by Death Cab front man Ben Gibbard.
6) Summer Rains The Ditty Bops (2008) 3:20
The Ditty Bops’ new album, Love Letters, is due out soon. It’ll be their first since Summer Rains — the title track of which is represented here.
7) Have You Ever Seen the Rain? Creedence Clearwater Revival (1971) 2:40
A top ten hit in early 1971, from the Credence album Pendulum (also on Chronicle, of course).
8) June Hymn The Decemberists (2011) 3:58
“And you were waking / And day was breaking / A panoply of song.” From the band’s latest, The King Is Dead.
9) 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) Bruce Springsteen (1973) 5:38
From The Wild, The Innocent, and the E-Street Shuffle.
10) Ocean City Girl Ivy (2005) 4:25
From In the Clear, Ivy’s last album. The group’s new album, All Hours, is due in September.
11) Sleep All Summer St. Vincent and The National (2009) 4:33
“Give the ocean what I took from you so one day you find it can find it in the sand / And hold it in your hands again.” From Score!: 20 Years of Merge Records.
12) Summer’s the Worst Michael Leviton (2006) 3:36
“I’m giving summer just one chance.” From Leviton’s My Favorite Place to Drown.
13) That Summer Feeling Jonathan Richman (1983) 6:08
“If you’ve forgotten what I’m naming, / you’re going to long to reclaim it one day, / because that summer feeling’s gonna haunt you one day in your life.”
14) Summer in the City Regina Spektor (2006) 3:51
From her Begin to Hope.
15) Once Upon a Summertime The Innocence Mission (2004) 2:13
From the group’s Now the Day Is Over. Not sure who recorded this song first, but Blossom Dearie cut a version on her album of the same name (1959).
16) Something Cool June Christy (1953) 4:20
“I don’t ordinarily drink with strangers. I most usually drink alone. / But you were so awfully nice to ask me, and I’m so terribly far from home.”
17) Black Hole Sun Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé (1999) 4:35
From the delightful collection of covers, Lounge-a-Palooza. Does anyone know what Soundgarden thinks of this version?
18) Don’t Let the Sun Go Down The Living Sisters (2010) 3:36
Beautiful harmonies from Inara George, Eleni Mandell, and Becky Stark. If you enjoy this track, you’ll enjoy the entire album: Love to Live.
19) Surf’s Up Brian Wilson (2004) 4:08
In 2004, Wilson finished the legendary Beach Boys Smile record (1966-1967) — parts of which appear on Smiley Smile and on Beach Boys compilations.
20) Surfboard The Swingle Singers (2003) 2:49
From the group’s album Mood Swings.
21) La Mer Charles Trenet (1946) 3:20
With new English lyrics by Jack Lawrence, this tune — retitled “Beyond the Sea” — became a hit for Bobby Darin in 1959. I prefer Charles Trenet’s original.