“Summer, summer, summer, it turns me upside down…” The Cars, “Magic”
Ah, summer…. when I was kid it held so much promise. It could never arrive fast enough especially when I was in school as it signaled the end of the term. “School’s out for summer!” as Alice Cooper so famously sang. And, along with taking forever to arrive, summer was always like a great party, it always ended too soon.
When summer arrived girls started wearing short-shorts, cut-off shorts and even better, bikinis. It was all tan skin, buttery lotion and slick bronzing oil. It was like Earth had transformed into Eden. You had all summer to sleep late, play outside and best of all – go to the pool and see the aforementioned girls in their bikinis. By middle school, the public pool had become “lame” and the goal was to find the private pool or apartment complex pool where the pretty girls were all hanging out like Sirens from Greek mythology luring me toward sweet destruction. Unlocking the mystery of where the pretty girls were led to all sorts of untoward treasure. Someone always had a radio or a “boom box” and music would be blasting. I can remember standing in a pool with a beer in my hand with a bronzed beauty draped over my back and Van Halen’s “Diver Down” blaring…Sorry, the rest of that story has been redacted out of respect for the guilty, including me. Let’s just say I’m glad I was waste-deep in cold water.
Even later when I started mowing lawns and doing light construction work during the summer, you still had summer nights to look forward to, “drinking beer in soft summer rain,” if you will. And while those outside jobs were dirty, hot and arduous, at least it was an honest day’s work. Working outside had the advantage of earning money while getting tan. Nobody on a job site was using sun screen in my day, which was likely a mistake in retrospect. After work and a quick shower, it was out to some patio bar, where all the women were in short skirts and the beer was cold as ice.
Of course nowadays, my corporate overlords have taken a bit of the luster off of summer. There is no longer a beautiful two month summer break. At the end of a long hot summer day, I emerge from my air conditioned office pasty, looking like an extra from “The Walking Dead,” a corporate zombie. I wish I lived in Europe where everybody takes August off, but it wasn’t in the cards. One thing I can still do is head down to the neighborhood pool on Saturday or Sunday and relive those glory days of summer, basking in the burning sun. Although now that I’m an adult, living in a neighborhood surrounded by families, I have to suffer the presence of small children. Not that there’s anything wrong with loud, screaming, thrashing little kids but… “I just sort of feel better when they’re not around…” The only remedy I have been able to find is my headphones. I slip the headphones on and hit the volume on my iPod and suddenly I’m back in that illicit apartment pool, surrounded by memories and ghosts alike…the workaday week slipping slowly off my shoulders…
As time has passed, I started to gravitate toward certain songs to listen to on sunny, summer days. I even listen to them when I’m lucky enough to occasionally vacation on a beach. The beach is like permanent summer. I finally decided to put these tunes all together on one playlist and shuffle through them. It’s about a 2 hour playlist so I know that half way through, it’s time to roll over and get a little sun on my back. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, the Rock Chick is the ultimate creator of playlists. I used to make “mix tapes” back in the day with the focus of John Cusack in the movie “High Fidelity,” and I truly believe it’s an art form. I curated the shit out of those mix tapes. But with the advent of MP3 players, the playlists can get longer and I can indulge my bizarre, ever expanding eclectic tastes. The Rock Chick always has laser focus on her playlists – her alternative rock playlist is always requested at any party we have and invariably someone stumbles up to me to ask me, “what song is this, this is awesome…” When I put on my playlists, typically someone asks for the Rock Chick’s music. She beats me at Scrabble too, and I’m supposedly the wordsmith in the family…such is life. My Summer/Sun Playlist is more of a headphones experience than something to put on the loud speaker for a pool party. This is for escape, typically from the McKean triplets (monsters, I assure you, and I know they pee in the pool), but I digress. As usual with my playlists I go from loud to quiet, rock to reggae. I’m all over the board. But with my headphones on and a beautiful Citron vodka and lemonade secured in my hand, the music takes me right where I wanna go…. So with all that in mind, here is the BourbonAndVinyl Summer/Sun Playlist (in no particular order, and I alway hit shuffle anyway):
- The Doors, “Waiting For the Sun” – trippy rock
- Steely Dan, “Blues Beach” – “drinking at the Manatee Bar…”
- Neil Young, “Sunny Inside” – I still love the Blue Notes
- Beck, “Girl” – “my summer girl…” takes me back to high school
- Bob Dylan, “Summer Days” – “I’m standing on a chair making a toast to the King”
- Kid Rock, “All Summer Long” – Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Warren Zevon meets Bob Seger
- Oasis, “Turn Up the Sun” – excellent late period Oasis, sadly ignored
- The Cult, “Sun King” – “I’m a sun king baby, won’t you share my throne?”
- The Faces, “Behind The Sun (Outtake) – excellent outtake from last year’s box set
- Bob Seger, “Sunspot Baby” – the classic detective mystery of a woman who steals your credit card and hops from vacation spot to vacation spot. Why he chooses to follow her instead of canceling the credit card is the real mystery. Great riff, though.
- John Mellencamp, “Summer of Love” – “it’s the summer of love, least ways, I’m hoping it is”
- The Cars, “Magic” – “summer, summer, summer, it turns me upside down”
- The Dirty Heads, “Cabin By the Sea” – a little something for you herbal enthusiasts
- Zwan, “El Sol” – “a little sunshine, just to butter my toast,” a pop rock confection from Billy Corgan.
- The Rolling Stones, “Summer Romance” – Mick singing about breaking up with his summer girlfriend who apparently had to return to high school when fall term came. I think this is illegal now…
- Bruce Springsteen, “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” – see the aforementioned comments about cut off shorts…
- The Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun” – beautiful George Harrison song
- Eddie Vedder, “Hard Sun”- Great solo Vedder
- Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Behind the Sun” – classic from “Uplift Mofo Party Plan”
- David Lee Roth, “Goin’ Crazy” – “from the heat…” Roth may be the King of Summer
- The Beatles, “Good Day Sunshine” – midtempo, perfect for a lazy, sunny day
- Van Halen, “Ice Cream Man” – “let me cool you one time, you’ll be my regular stop,” who doesn’t like ice cream on a hot day?
- The Firemen, “Sun Is Shining” – excellent example of an older artist (McCartney) doing trippy, experimental music. Check out this whole excellent album, “Electric Arguments”
- Van Halen, “Summer Nights” – something for the Van Hagar contingent. This was supposedly written on their first jam together when Hagar was trying out for the band.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Seaside Bar Song” – great beach/pool song
- Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Long Hot Summer Night” – because Hendrix is always appropriate
- Van Halen, “Beautiful Girls” – “I’ve got my toes in the sand and a drink in my hand…” and aren’t beautiful girls the only reason for summer?
- The Kinks, “Sunny Afternoon” – “accused of drunkenness and cruelty”
- Cream, “Sunshine of Your Love” – what a riff for a summer day
- The Who, “Summertime Blues” – many have covered it but let’s face it, the Who own this song
There you have it folks. Music to drink vodka lemonades to by the pool. Slip the Beats headphones on, turn it up loud, take a long pull from your drink, and hopefully with your shades on, glance around the pool at those wonderful bodies and maybe not so wonderful bodies out there! If I missed any great summer/sun songs, please suggest additions in the Comments section, I always appreciate new ideas. Enjoy!