As a radio DJ for many years, it is often my job to dictate people’s moods with the music I play and provide a soundtrack to their good times. Last week while cruising around Northwest Indiana with the car windows down, I compiled my Top 10 summer songs other than those Beach Boys songs that just scream - “Summer!”
These tunes are perfect for trips to the beach, days in the park, sitting poolside, or firing up the backyard grill. Load these tunes on your MP3 player, grab some sunscreen and go have some fun in the sun!
1) Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta – “Summer Nights” (1978)
Nothing says “summer is here” more than a summer romance and who has not sung along with friends to the “Grease” film soundtrack?
2) Kid Rock – “All Summer Long” (2008)
There is something magical in this modern summer classic blending warm weather memories with a musical “mash up” of Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama”) and the late Warren Zevon (“Werewolves of London”).
3) Jan & Dean – “Surf City” (1963)
How can song about a road trip to the beach not make the Top 5 when it promises – surf, sand and sun, and “two girls for every boy”? Lyrics tell of teens “either out surfin’ or they’ve got a party brewin’.”
4) The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Summer In The City” (1966)
Harsh lyrics about sidewalks “hotter than a match head" may not evoke pleasant thoughts, but they soon change focus to more summer nights where “cool cats go lookin’ for a kitty” for dancing and rooftop romancing.
5) Herman Ze German — ”Wipe Out (2011)
The Surfaris original version from 1963 of this instrumental drum-driven tune is great, but this cover by former Scorpions’ drum Herman Rarebell with his Herman Ze German band is amped up with double kick drum for a powerful delivery. Another fun version of “Wipe Out” is the 1986 rap ‘n’ surf mash up by The Fat Boys and The Beach Boys.
6) Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime” (1970)
One of the best selling singles of all time (6 million copies sold), this 1970 tune by British band Mungo Jerry remains a perennial summer favorite. It became a hit again in 2005 when featured on the “Wedding Crashers” film soundtrack, and again when used in the 2013 hit film, “Despicable Me 2.”
7) The Rivieras – “California Sun” (1964)
The Ramones did a great remake in 1977, but Hoosier rockers The Rivieras took this tune to #5 and only stalled there because The Beatles kick-started The British Invasion that same week when “I Want To Hold Your Hand” hit #1. The Rivieras’ members were from South Bend and Michigan City. They brought the West Coast sound of the Sixties to the Midwest in a big way.
8) Sly & The Family Stone – “Hot Fun In the Summertime” (1969)
This mellow, funky and soulful celebration of summer features members of the group offering up what they love most about summer. This tune reminds me of when in the mid- 1970s, Sly’s tour bus pulled into the Miner-Dunn parking lot in Highland when I was a bus boy. They wanted coffee and directions to I-94. The best part was the $5 tip they tossed at me.
9) Chicago – “Saturday In the Park” (1972)
Visions of Grant Park filled with a cool breeze off Lake Michigan come to mind with this brassy song about “a guy selling ice cream,” people laughing and celebrating summer. Maybe not a Top 10 summer contender outside of Chicagoland, but it’s a hometown summer classic for sure.
10) Don Henley – “Boys of Summer” (1985)
Remember those sweet summer fling romances celebrated in the #1 song on this list? This Grammy Award-winning tune is about a guy waiting to rekindle things with an ex-love who left to enjoy a summer dalliance or two.
• The line-up for the “33rd Annual American Music Festival” (July 2-5) at FitzGerald’s (6615 W. Roosevelt) in Berwyn features over 40 acts spread over multiple stages.
Highlights are: July 2 - Marcia Ball Band, Junior Brown, and The Holmes Brothers; July 3 - Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett, New Orleans Suspects (a tribute to Lowell George), and Chuck Mead & The Grassy Knoll Boys; July 4 - Alejandro Escovedo, The Bottle Rockets, Robbie Fulks, and Billy Joe Shaver; and July 5 - Joe Ely, C.J. Chenier and His Red Hot Louisiana Band, and The Iguanas. Full list and fest info: fitzgeraldsnightclub.com. Tickets: $100 for 4-day pass or $30 per day.
• Since tomorrow is my 55th birthday (6/6), I am gifting myself with a little musical indulgence as host of the weekly 6-7pm “Midwest BEAT” radio program airing Tuesday on 89.1FM-The Lakeshore. This week’s show will feature my favorite deep cuts and lost classics by plethora of artists of various genres and styles. Stream live at: lakeshorepublicmedia.org/radio.
• On Saturday (6/7) Chicago area rock perennials M&R RUSH will perform a free all age 2-hour-plus concert starting at 7pm on the outside patio of GoodFellas (11200 W 129th Ave,) in Cedar Lake. The band will mix up songs from their four original music albums with classic rock covers by Styx, Journey and others. Find their music and show info at: mandrrush.com.
Email Tom Lounges at email@example.com