The songs of summer 2019


What are the qualities that, for you, make an ideal Song of Summer? 

I’m not enough of a musician to explain why I like what I like; all I can say is that I like music that makes me feel like I’m 20 years old and driving to a beach in southern California. 

What do you like? I sent out an email blast asking for ideas for this summer’s playlists; I said anything goes, from bossa nova to Britney. 

First, my choices: Two perennial favorites are “Long Hot Summer” by Paul Weller’s Style Council; and  “Summertime” by Will Smith (when he was still known as DJ Jazzy Jeff). The song I anticipate loving this summer: the Billy Ray Cyrus/Lil Nas X version of “Old Town Road.”

Here are some choices from friends and colleagues. If you want to listen to any or all of these tunes, click here to open "The Lakeville Journal's Best Summer" playlist.

John Torsiello: Frank Sinatra, “Summer Wind” and “of course ‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley, a modern classic.”

Peter Montgomery: “Hot town, summer in the city/ Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty …”; and  “Heat Wave,” by Martha and the Vandellas. How about the whole Sgt. Pepper album, released when I was at camp in Maine in ’64?

James Clark: Let’s go poppy: 311’s “Amber” has been a go-to for smooth rides to the beach. That’ll likely come up in the rotation again this summer. 

I also expect Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” to be up there in frequency of play. Both of my kids love it and there’s a certain sense of pride that comes with listening to both (4- and 8-year-old) girls belt out, together, a song in which the singer unabashedly declares her power.

Mark Niedhammer: He couldn’t decide. Therefore, his top five choices are “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran; “Groovin’” by the Young Rascals; “Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft; “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas; and, his first choice, “Night Moves” by Bob Seger (and if that song doesn’t evoke some memories of summer evenings, you probably weren’t young and wild in the late ’70s/early ’80s). 

Caitlin Hanlon: It’s REALLY difficult to narrow it down to only one song, but “Chateau” by Angus and Julia Stone always puts me in a good mood. It’s super catchy.

Patrick L. Sullivan: I’ll go with Yo La Tengo’s cover of the Beach Boys’ “Farmer’s Daughter.” It’s a summer song to me only because I discovered it one summer. And it was a good summer. It’s also better than either the Beach Boys or Fleetwood Mac’s version —stripped down and rebuilt. 

Jody Potter: Stevie Wonder’s “Summer Soft” and“Summer Nights” from “Grease.”

Chris Abeel: “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” by Brian Hyland.

Michael Suttles: Here are two fun weird ones. “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior; you will never, ever be able to get this out of your head.  And “Pop It” by Anamanaguchi.

Blake Cabot: I like “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. It never gets old.

Lans Christensen: That summer, a hundred years ago, driving around in my parents’ Mercury convertible, top down and radio blasting “ No Particular Place To Go” by Chuck Berry is a memory still so strong. It forged my tastes in music, which are still true today.

For me, it has to ROCK, with a driving rhythm and a kick-ass back beat — and, of course, the killer guitar leads that made me go home and “woodshed” endlessly.

Pick one? Impossible. But here are great examples of what drives me.

“Nothing Wrong With Me”     by NRBQ; “I Got To Drive” by Dale Watson; “Truth #2” by Patty Griffin; “Luxury Liner” by Emmylou Harris (several versions are available; look for the one put up by Gaiaan08 on YouTube — or look for the Spotify playlist created for this article, see note above); “To Ramona” by the Flying Burrito Brothers; “Object of My Affection” by Gail Davies. 

And, OK, my number one choice: “Working Man Blues”    by Merle Haggard.

[Editor’s note: For those too young to know what “woodshedding” is, it refers to the place where parents would send their children when they got sick of hearing them play the same song over and over for hours on end.] 

Donna Drew: Bernie and I enjoyed going to the Music Inn outdoor concerts in Lenox, Mass. We attended a drizzly Richie Havens concert in the late 1970s. The clouds broke and the sun came out just as he was singing “Here Comes the Sun.” A joyful and magical moment. 

I also love Carole King’s (and James Taylor’s) “Up On the Roof”: “At night the stars put on a show for free.”

[Editor’s note: Donna is the wife of Lakeville Journal Senior Associate Editor and Nature’s Notebook columnist Bernie Drew.]

Anne Day: I still like “See You in September” from my pre-teen years, a catchy tune and full of teen angst. “I’ll be alone each and every night … while you’re away don’t forget to write …”.

Jenny Hansell: To me the ultimate song of summer is the one you belt out at the top of your lungs as you’re driving down the highway with your windows open; or alternatively, the one that is blasting out of everyone else’s cars as you’re walking down a hot city sidewalk. 

But the one that jumps to mind is from my pre-car-driving days. I’d forgotten all about it until my daughter started listening to the Broadway cast recording of “Summer: The Donna Summer Musical.” “Last Dance” hit the charts the summer after eighth grade, and it captured the longing I felt — to have someone to dance with at those end-of-school-year parties (I didn’t) and my wish that disco would last long enough that I could wear one of those slip dresses and go dancing in a club (it didn’t). I’d happily belt it out my car window today as I drive across the Mass Pike to work.

David Poirier: “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley takes me back to my moody adolescence in the ’80s.

Janet Manko: Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4, “Italian.”