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June 21, 2012 / jhsaeger

Ten of the Best Songs of Summer

If the calendar hitting the first day of the new season did not usher in Summer 2012, the Philadelphia thermometers touching the high-90’s today did. Songs and hot summer days have always gone well together, here are some of the ten best songs of summer:  

Summer in the City (Lovin’ Spoonful) – This song has been covered by a host of artists ranging from B.B. King to Joe Jackson and Joe Cocker, but the original version from Lovin’ Spoonful is still the most popular, having charted in the top ten in both the U.S. and U.K. in the summer of 1966.

Summertime Thing (Chuck Prophet)– Prophet’s biggest hit to date, the San Francisco native captured the sentiments of the season for one of Long After Dark’s all-time favorite songs on his No Other Love album.

Summertime (DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince) – Philly bias may have put the song on the list, but this song has achieved a longevity that has outlasted a decent chunk of the duo’s discography. The imagery that Will Smith threw into Jeffery Townes’ spin of Kool and the Gang’s “Summer Madness” is fantastic, you can just see the rapper driving slowly down the street so everybody can see him and eating pizza at Lorenzo’s to prove that summer is, in fact, “a natural aphrodisiac.”

Summertime (Kenny Chesney) – This will likely be the only Kenny Chesney song I’ll ever know each and every word to, but I do and I have a tendency to sing it loudly in the car when it comes on the radio. Chesney masterful construed imagery of ballparks, swimming holes, and two bare feet on the dashboard for this hit from his 2006 album The Road and the Radio.  

Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra) – Originally recorded by Wayne Newton in 1965, one of the Sinatra’s most famous songs came from his double Grammy-winning 1966 record Strangers in the Night and has maintained incredible longevity alongside some of the Chairman’s best work.

Love Is Like A Heat Wave (Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) – Motown’s best summer track, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas rode the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team’s tune of to the top of 1963’s R&B charts. The song also remains one of the best-known arrangements from Motown’s legendary group of session musicians, The Funk Brothers.

Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran/The Who) – Originally released by Cochrane in 1958, “Summertime Blues” evolved into a concert staple of British rock band The Who until the death of bass player John Entwistle in 2002.

Surfin’ U.S.A. (Beach Boys) – The trick here was figuring out which Beach Boys song would pop up on this list. Wilson, Love, and Co. remain the ultimate, unsurpassed summer group after 50 years of singing about surfing, California, and beaches. The title track from their 1963 sophomore album Surfin’ U.S.A. may top the list thanks to a set of brilliant licks from guitar player David Marks, although it is hard to compete with “California Girls” and “Kokomo.”

Summertime (George Gershwin) – Gershwin’s beautiful score to DuBose Howard’s poem for his 1935 opera Porgy and Bess has seen many incarnations through various orchestral arrangements and uncounted covers by singer-songwriters ranging from Brian Wilson to Norah Jones. The best version may have come from Eva Cassidy, who covered the song in her 2008 album Somewhere.

Under the Boardwalk (The Drifters) – There isn’t a soul on the East Coast who hasn’t heard and loved this song over the last 50-plus years and thought of Wildwood, Avalon, or Atlantic City. Favorite version: Bruce Willis cutting the track in a show with The Temptations while the actor cut the 1987 HBO Special Return of Bruno.

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