#1 – Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers
It was the summer of 1991, and I was getting ready to go away to college. It was going to be the first time I was going to be living by myself. There was excitement surrounding it, and the same time a little bit of trepidation. I spent a lot of time by myself that summer wondering what this new life would be like, and it was accompanied by this song. When I hear this song, it takes me back to that moment in my life where I ventured off to my adult life and the questions about the direction I would take as I ran off towards it.
#2 – More than a Feeling – Boston
Often considered one of the greatest rock anthems ever written, this song is the perfect addition to any summer day.
#3 – The Windows are Rolled Down – Amos Lee
The perfect song to accompany that cup of coffee in the morning before you set out the enjoy the day. Amos Lee is that singer/songwriter that brings summer to life.
#4 – Midnight Radio – Big Head Todd and the Monsters
Many people will claim that I included this song on the list just because I needed to represent my home state, and even though this song comes from one of the most successful bands from Colorado, it is not the reason that I included it here. It makes this list because of the way summer reminds me of road trips. This is the ultimate late night road trip song. You need to hear this song late in the evening while you are the only one up in the car guiding your sleeping guests off towards their destination. This song captures that moment perfectly, and therefore deserves such a prominent spot on this countdown.
#5 – All Summer Long – Kid Rock
A Lynard Skynard sample to go along with the perfect summertime lyrics, nothing else needs to be said about this anthem to summer.
#6 – Centerfield – John Fogerty
When summer rolls around, I think about a box of Cracker Jack’s, a hot dog, and the seventh inning stretch on a hot day. I can’t go a summer without hearing the crack of the bat, and seeing the boys of summer run around the bases. Baseball screams day of summer, and John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” screams baseball. No other song, except for “Take me out to the Ballgame”, captures the mood of baseball than this summertime anthem. That is why it deserves this place on the list.
#7 – Volcano – Jimmy Buffett
How could I have a list of the best songs of summer with out the king of the summertime party, Jimmy Buffett. Many people would argue that “Margaretville” would be the song to include on this list, but I find that the song is overplayed and I tune it out every time I hear it. I much prefer the Jamaican vibe that you can find on “Volcano”. Every time I hear it I think of heading off to tropical locations to enjoy the beach. What better way to spend the summer than participating in this activity?
#8 – Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon
If song number six makes me think of California in the summertime, song number five makes me think of New York. It might be the video to this song that does it, but every time I hear it, I think of a steamy blacktop surrounded by a chain-linked fence. There are a group of kids there playing basketball as their friends cheer them on. I believe that this is an image you would see a lot of in New York during the summertime and this song puts me right there in the action.
#9 – Skateaway – Dire Straits
There are certain songs that need to be played at a certain place because of the vibe that they create. Dire Straits’ “Skateaway” is one of these songs. The next time you hear this song playing on the radio, close your eyes (unless you are driving), and imagine yourself on Venice Beach in California. The first image that you get from that would have to be a girl roller staking while the sun is beating down on her. This is the picture I get in my head every time I hear this song, and this image makes it one of the most perfect summer songs ever written.
#10 – Tiny Dancer – Elton John
Even without the memorable use of this song in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous, this song would still remind me of summer. I always picture a ballet dancer on the beach when I hear this song. It also gives you that good vibe you want to have during the summer. When you hear this song, you want to take the time to disengage from everyone around you and just enjoy the song in its entirety. It is this same disconnected feeling that you long for in the summer.
#11 – The Sweet Escape – Gwen Stefani
During the summer of 2007, I was traveling around Europe with a backpack strapped to me. I spent a lot of time in hostels, trains, buses, and restaurants. Everywhere I went, this song was playing. I couldn’t escape it. At the time, it really annoyed me, but now when I hear this song it takes me back to Europe and all the fun I had that summer.
#12 – Today – The Smashing Pumpkins
During the summer of 1993 I was living up in Fort Collins and taking a break from my college career. It was a summer of fun with friends and a time in my life I will never forget. There were a lot of parties that summer, and at every one, someone would play Siamese Dream from beginning to end. This whole album reminds me of summer, but it was the single, “Today” that dominated the radio that summer as well. Every time I hear it, I think back to those days in Fort Collins with fondness.
#13 – Summertime Blues – The Who
I didn’t really appreciate this song until later in life even though it was one of the first songs I had heard from the Who. It wasn’t until I turned sixteen and had my first summer job at a fast food restaurant that the lyrics to this song really hit home. Here I was stuck at work while all my friends were out enjoying the sunshine. Now that I am a teacher and get to enjoy my summers again, I have found a new appreciation for this song. I look at those kids working those summer jobs and feel sorry for them, but at the same time, I feel a sense of nostalgia for a time in my life where I was in a similar situation.