Obsession of the Week: Summer Songs
I’ve actually been obsessing over summer songs for weeks now. When my seven-year-old’s school let out, I thought I’d add some new songs to his i-pod. As it was, this year he was introduced to The Beach Boys by his music teacher (Thanks Mr. V.) and had spent the better part of spring singing “Surfin Safari” and “Barbara Ann” everywhere he went (my dad should be proud).
In thinking of songs to add, I figured he needed something beside the Beach Boys’ greatest hits so I started making a list of songs about summer. The list quickly turned into an endless download nightmare. I decided to limit myself to only songs about summer that had summer in the title. I’ve always tried to vary my son’s i-pod selection (click here to read more about it) so he’s introduced to a wide variety of music. I wanted to make sure the list included hits from as far back as the 60s and included as varied a selection as possible. As it turned out most are from the 70s. Go figure. So here’s my list of the “Top Ten Summer Songs” in alphabetical order by artist.
- Alice Cooper “School’s Out (for Summer)”
- Bananarama “Cruel Summer” (1983)
- Chad& Jeremy “A Summer Song” (1964)
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince “Summertime” (1989)
- Don Henley “The Boys of Summer” (1984)
- Kid Rock “All Summer Long” (2008)*
- Mungo Jerry “In the Summertime” (1970)
- Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta & Cast “Summer Nights” (1978)*
- Ray Lamontagne “For the Summer” (2010)
- Seals & Crofts “Summer Breeze” (1972)
* this selection made the list but didn’t actually make it on my son’s i-pod due to content and the possibility of him singing the lyrics at full volume. There are certain things you don’t want to hear your seven-year-old sing about even if he doesn’t understand the context.
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Last week, the Grammy nominations were announced, one of the “Song of the Year” nominees really stuck out for me. I’d heard the song “Beg Borrow or Steal” by Ray LaMontagne but couldn’t believe this traditional folk artist was up for song of the year. It’s a great song but not your typical Pop, R&B, flash-in-the-pan song that usually gets nominated for a Grammy.
More than likely you’ve never heard of LaMontagne or his music, but you may be surprised to find that this music has been around for the past six years and has been featured on various television shows including this season of “Parenthood” on NBC. For “American Idol” fans, you’re likely to remember Taylor Hick’s version of LaMontagne’s “Trouble” as he performed it on the show to rave reviews.
LaMontagne is the type of singer/songwriter that we haven’t seen the likes of since the 1960s and 1970s. His sound is very much reminiscent of the ballads of Cat Stevens (who LaMontagne also looks like), Loggins and Messina, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. It is said that LaMontagne heard Stephen Stills “Treetop Flyer” and quit his regular job to become a singer/songwriter full-time.
I think the pureness of his music and poetry of his lyrics are genius. His music is both mesmerizing and hypnotic. For a sample of some of my favorites try this year’s Grammy-nominated “Beg, Borrow or Steal”, as well as “For the Summer” from this year’s album, God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise. Also try “Be Here Now” and “Empty” from his 2006 album Till the Sun Turns Black, “Sarah” from his 2008 album Gossip in the Grain and “Trouble” from his first studio album of the same name. Take a listen and let me know what you think.