Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hot Fun In The Summertime

"Is it hot in here, or is it just Summer?" My favorite line from The Big Bang Theory delivered by a drunk guy to the person above, Summer Glau.

"Summer Summer Summer, it's like a merry go round" said Ric Ocasek 25 years ago and you know he was right. The weather for the first half of Summer was on the cool to moderate side here in Nor. Cal., it took the second half to bring in the heat. And now that it actually gets warm to hot on a daily basis, the season is almost over. So before it all ends we're gonna squeeze in some Summer fun (like going to an Oakland A's game today) and I'm gonna - you guessed it - name my Top 10 favorite Summer songs.

10. Asia "Summer (Can't Last Too Long)" (1990)

From the Steve Howe-less era of the band released on the sort-of-greatest hits-sort-of-new songs Then & Now album. An Asia anthem about Summer? Can't put that down. I was living in Sacramento at the time, where the Summer heat would hit 100 plus degrees. When you walk out of the door of an air conditioned room that heat would hit you in the face like a frying pan. Now that we're in August, Summer really can't last too long now. Just the way John Wetton planned it.

9. Sheryl Crow "Soak Up The Sun" (2002)

Crow's last big hit, a sunny playful blast of modern pop rock. Pleasant feel good harmony driven tune, perfect for enjoying the Summer day indoors or outdoors.

8. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John "Summer Nights" (1978)

In '78 I was hooked on Grease, mainly because I liked the songs and choreography which I suppose is the reason anyone would like a musical in the first place. While most of the raunch went over my head at the time, I could tell there was a difference between Danny Zuko's version of events and Sandra Dee's. And hey, it was '78 and I wanted to be slick and cool T Bird like John Travolta livin' that picturesque Summer romance with Olivia Newton-John. Below is a pretty amusing video of the song remade with Lego people. Tell me more, tell me more...

7. B - 52's "Summer Of Love" (1983)

Summer is the season known for fun, a chance to break out from your routine existence and try new things (or is that Spring? No, I'm pretty sure it's Summer). It's hard to top The B 52's for bright kitchy fun with a touch of postmodern cool. Danceable, kooky and silly yet not without intelligence.

6. Rush "Summertime Blues" (2005)

Covered probably a billion times since Eddie Cochran made it a hit in the 50's, "Summertime Blues" is a staple of anyone's Summer time playlist. While certainly drawing inspiration from the Blue Cheer version, Prog rockers Rush gang tackled the song a few years ago with a vengeance and made it their own. It's great to hear these famously ultra precise musicians cut loose with abandon, kicking so much ass that their version was a theme song to one of the WWE PPV's that year.

5. Don Henley "The Boys Of Summer" (1984)

In the 80's there was slavish nostalgia for the 60's and who better to bring it to you than a 70's rock star? Henley's ode to fleeting youth set to the backdrop of sun kissed skin and Grateful Dead bumper stickers struck a chord that still resonates today.

4. Weezer "Island In The Sun" (2001)

A relaxing loping beat and nicely strummed guitars calls to mind light blue skies, sandy beaches, clear water lapping on the shore - basically like those beer commercials with the man and woman sitting in their chairs throwing their cell phones into the Ocean when it rings. Pure bliss even with the slightly grungy guitars in the verse.

3. Bananarama "Cruel Summer" (1983)

Sometimes the Summer isn't so nice, like say you move from New York to Reseda thinking it's going to be so cool to go to school in L.A. only to find a bunch of karate kicking rich kid bullies chasing you wherever you go. When you have a Summer like that, you need a trio of nice British Ladies to sing your tale of woe. Focus power Daniel-san!

2. Seals & Crofts "Summer Breeze" (1972)

While sitting in the hot baseball park today, I thought of this song because the breeze blowing in was the only thing cooling us off. It's funny, in the 70's I didn't like this song because something about the sound of it bothered me. A couple of years ago this showed up in a TV commercial with a remixed back beat and I've been in love with it ever since. Adding to it's stock, Tommy Shaw (Styx) and Jack Blades (Night Ranger) teamed up last year and released a cover that does the original justice. Now I remember what bothered me, the thought of jasmine in my mind sounded painful!

1. Van Halen "Summer Nights" (1986)

The Summer of '86 was my first Summer after high school so of course it stands out in my memory. It was great to have a killer theme song to my first Summer of freedom. My strongest memory was just before graduating high school, my friends and I pulled an all nighter finishing off our Accounting final hours before getting on a bus to go to Grad Night at Disneyland. At around 3am, after playing the 5150 tape repeatedly, we all became fixated on the grunt Sammy Hagar does after the opening guitar lick. We sat there and played it, then rewind it, then played it again probably about 20 times over. Da Da Da Duh Na, Da Da Da Duh Na...Uh! The song epitomizes for me what Summer nights back then meant, hanging out with friends and warm nights.

So many songs came close to making this list, Bryan Adams "Summer of '69", Survivor's "Summer Nights" and Jerry Mungo's "In The Summertime" to name a few. It was tough to choose just ten (so obviously I'm cheating here) but that's my Top 10. And hey, if you have any favorite Summer songs you would like to give a shout out to feel free to. Have a great rest of the Summer!

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