Savvy readers of this blog know two things: First, I’m not quite right in the head. Second, besides the Sox and imitating a woodpecker at the local deli, one of my greatest passions is music. So rather than waste more space on how much I despise the Yankees–and it’s good to see that the All-Star game has helped refuel that hatred, as I thought I might be getting soft in my advanced age–or how much I miss Tina C, I figured I’d tap your collective brains to uncover the greatest summer songs of all time.
Now these songs don’t necessarily have to mention the word “summer” in their titles; hell, they don’t have to mention “summer” anywhere in the lyrics, either. I just want to know the songs that, as soon as you hear them, teleport you to a sunny August afternoon on the beach, in the casino, or at the rifle range.
“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley: Infectious chorus, check. Title that evokes baseball, the greatest summertime sport of all, check. Wigged-out guitars that sound like creepy seagulls in the background, check. Deadhead sticker reference, check. Congratulations, Mr. Henley, you’ve got a summer classic. Now go on out and get yourself laid!
“Steal My Sunshine” by Len: Like most great tunes, the lyrics make no sense whatsoever. “Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week/impaired my tribal lunar-speak/and of course you can’t become if you only say what you would have done/so i missed a million miles of fun.” The f#$k? No matter; I get sunburn everytime I hear this thing.
“Centerfield” by John Fogerty: Try listening to this song on a dark January afternoon, while sitting on your steps in a parka and Gore-Tex gloves. Not quite the same, is it?
“Velvet Roof” by Buffalo Tom: Any song with the lyrics, “Scraggly hair and messed up shoes/I’m looking all around for you” is gonna get played at my summer parties. And this one has for more than a decade. Good stuff as always from the local heroes.
“You Really Got Me” by Van Halen: To paraphrase the great Nigel Tufnel, when you want to push your summer bash “to eleven,” just crank this.
“Summertime Girls” by Y&T: Hey, listen, I lived through ’80s hair metal the first time around and this track represents everything that was so goddam cheesy about that genre: sophomoric lyrics (“she’s hot!” is an actual line of the song), overzealous keyboards and a video with a robot. But I still can’t resist its gentle allure. Damn you, “Summertime Girls”!
“Surf Wax America” by Weezer: Great soundtrack for waxin’ down the board. if you catch my drift. Wink, wink.
“Shaniqua” by Little T and One Track Mike: Voice on the speakers: “Is Shaniqua there?” Everyone in attendance at your party: “Hell, no!” Works every time.
“Mr. Brightside” by The Killers: Actually, I’ll look for any excuse to crank this one. Possibly the greatest song of the last decade.
“Save It For Later” by the English Beat: The aural equivalent of sunshine. How can you feel bad when this song is playing? Not physically possible. Unless, of course, someone’s tapping your nuts with a hammer while you’re listening.
“Come On Come On” by Cheap Trick: Everytime I hear this one, I’m an awkward teen in some ’80s softcore flick (think “Porky’s” or “Joystick”) watching Pheobe Cates cavorting by the swimming pool. Even though I’m really just an awkward adult. With a Red Sox blog.
“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” by the Jayhawks: Forget the stalker-ific lyrics. This is perfect lounging-around-the-backyard-with-some-ice-cold-beers-on-a-sticky-afternoon music. Preferably with a potential hump-mate.
“Rockaway Beach” by the Ramones: This should be installed on every iPod at the motherflippin’ factory. Everyone needs the Ramones.
“You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night)” by Meat Loaf: Do I really have to explain this?
“Brooklyn Queens” by 3rd Bass: Somehow, this one gets me thinking of hazy afternoons on a Brooklyn stoop, watching the fly girls walk by. And this from a guy who grew up in West Roxbury.
“Down to London” by Joe Jackson: I was in London the first time I heard this. And it happened to be summer. Thus, a memory was born.
“Livin’ On a Prayer” by Bon Jovi: If your summer cookouts don’t climax with at least one drunken idiot screaming this at their top of his or her lungs as the cops drag him/her off and the hookers trash your pool and the roof slowly burns off your house, well… I feel bad for you.