“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”-The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
We’ve entered May and we’re all with Fitzgerald on his sentiments: life really is beginning again, it seems, as reflected by that carefree spring in our step, the shedding of clothing along with wintered sadness and, of course, our fresh choice of music. Here’s a list that follows a summer day into its summer night; a couple of honorary throwbacks are mixed in with some newer stuff forming a soundtrack to this summery Monday.
1. “Hey Ladies” — The Beastie Boys:
It would have been on here with our without the unfortunate passing of member, MCA, earlier this week (may he rest in peace). The Beastie Boys, to me, are the epitome of summer: their crazy, yell-y, I-don’t-care-what-you-think, vocals with their ever-funky, rocky-hard samples creates the perfect summer party jam. Let’s all get funky.
2. “Rock Lobster” — The B-52’s:
Growing up, I was trained to associate certain bands with summertime, The B-52’s being one of them. I went with Rock Lobster because of its goofy, beachy feel, the little marine-biology lesson it gives part way through and of course that surfy riff that will never stop repeating in your head.
3. “Bad Kids” — Black Lips
Ah yes, don’t we all grow a little rebellious bone in the summer? This is a quick and dirty commemoration to all those ridiculous things that give kids a rush; with its fast-paced beat, ragged vocals and rock-n-roll flavored bass line, it’s hard not to clap and dance along and admit that indeed, those bad kids are just, “like you and me”
4. “Stormy Weather” — Reigning Sound:
To be single in the summer…does it mean there’s always stormy weather? Reigning Sound’s rendition of this Ella Fitzgerald hit makes it sound like it might. Instead of taking the traditionalist route with this tune, the band sped up the beat, threw in some crunchy distortion and fun, forceful vocals. So if you’re single this summer, don’t wallow, just rock out!
5. “The Bronze Beached Boys” — PAS/CAL
We’re all rearing to go this summer—so is PAS/CAL. Indie little band from Detroit, these guys encompass the sound of The Beach Boys in their poppy, sugary-sweet, upbeat tracks. In the words of the song, “come on let’s go, let’s not talk about tomorrow…” at least during this little tune.
6. “California Saga” — The Beach Boys:
Speaking of The Beach Boys…come on, you can’t have a summer playlist without them. I chose one of their less appreciated songs off The Warmth of the Sun. A little more matured, perhaps, than their all-out surf stuff, this song brings you to some attractions of California with a bunch of friends and sunshine. Sounds nice, right?
7. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” — Sly & The Family Stone:
Oh yes. This 1969 hit was released in the wake of the band’s performance at Woodstock, making their fan base grow exponentially. And it’s just so groovy…with the clean piano part, horn section, laid back vocals, it’s hard not to tap a foot or have a little dance to this one. Sly, you’ve got major swag.
8. “Light A Roman Candle With Me” — Fun.:
Yes, everybody, Fun. DOES have songs besides We Are Young. An entire album, in fact! Their first release, Aim and Ignite, is a very light and charming album. This track in particular captures a romantic New York summer night with Nate Reuss and his incredible floaty voice, a classy piano and the promise for a lazy evening during which no one needs to think about tomorrow.
9. “Sleep All Summer” — The National and St. Vincent:
And we’ll slow things down with this cover by The National and St. Vincent, an unbeatable team, if you ask me. It’s slow, dreamy and lyrically beautiful, starting with the beautifully image-inducing “Weary sun sleep tonight, go crashing into the ocean.”
10. “Summer Wind” — Frank Sinatra:
I legitimately think it would be a crime if I didn’t include this crooning song in the summer playlist. Frank Sinatra’s buttery voice paired with his swanky band and the realization that all good things must end makes this track a satisfying ender to the list. And now that I’ve got you feeling all sentimental and nostalgic, I’ll remind you that it’s MAY and we’ve still got a good 4 months of summer left!