Summer Songs of Awesomeness (i)


It’s summertime. I love summertime. I also love music and lists. I’m pretty fond of meat, too, though I can’t seem to make all four elements work together – Top 10 Metal Ballads About a Summer Ham? – so we’ll just leave that one out.

Instead, let’s go with compiling a list of Summer Songs of Awesomeness.

What makes a song a summer song? There are no hard and fast rules, except for this hard and fast rule: it must be a song you would proudly crank while driving in a convertible (and not feel embarrassed to keep cranked if you ended up stuck at a stoplight next to, say, the Pope, several judgmental teens or Christie Brinkley in a red Ferrari), or a song you would be content to hear while gazing into a summer campfire. Thus, both peppy tunes and appealing mellowish numbers are eligible, and all songs by bands that rhyme with Ficklethack are immediately excluded.

Each Friday during July and August, three new Summer Songs of Awesomeness will be presented here, meaning you’ll have a complete and useful list of summer music just in time for… autumn. Advanced planning? Never my strength.

All songs are available for download at iTunes unless otherwise indicated. By all means feel free to suggest your own Summer Song of Awesomeness in the comments below. If deeply smitten, I may steal it for a future installment.

The Next Best Thing, Aesop Rock (2007)

“Oh what a genius plan
Oh what a marvel of engineering
To rival the great pyramids or cheese in a can.”

I was a fan of rap early on – like, waaay early on. I mean, I wanted to be an S1W when I grew up. Some high school friends and I recorded songs as Four White Boys in the Basement more than a year and a half before Licensed to Ill was released. (Alas, our dream of glory, fame and hot and cold running beee-yatches was shattered when my younger sister discovered we’d been doing our turntable scratches on her Strawberry Shortcake album. I felt pretty bad about it all – I mean, the Sesame Street Fever record was right there.) I don’t bother much now with rap/hip-hop for tedium-based reasons but I like Aesop Rock and this song in particular, which is cleverly written and a great driving tune. Plus, it acknowledges in its lyrics a universal truth: “Even silly pink bunnies look scary in the dark.” Don’t even try to pretend that’s not the case.

Where Do You Run To? Vivian Girls (2008)

“Where do you run
Do you run
Do you run to, baby?”

Upbeat ’60s vibe? Check.
Girls singing in harmony? Check.
Song title ended with a preposition for some reason? Check.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Neutral Milk Hotel (1998)

“And one day we will die
And our ashes will fly from the aeroplane over the sea
But for now we are young
Let us lay in the sun
And count every beautiful thing we can see.”

This is the prototype for a certain type of summer song – one that makes you feel all reflective and a little bit sad. The fleeting-type nature of summer lends itself to songs that touch on issues of regret, lost opportunities and mortality (as well as issues of bikininess, though not in this case). In the Aeroplane also hits another summer sweet spot, in that it can be played with relatively ease by any dude sitting around a campfire with a guitar. And that dude is sooo going to get some.

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Summer Songs of Awesomeness (i)

  1. A preposition is something you should never end a sentence with.

    • Belle, a southern woman, was visiting in the Hamptons for the first time, and seated at a huge dinner party of Who's Who people. She turns to the woman next to her and says, "Hello, my name is Belle, and I'm from Atlanta. Where are you all from?'

      To which the Yankee woman replied icily, "I am from where we know better than to end our sentences with a preposition."

      Belle smiled and purred, "I'm sorry: so where are you all from, bitch?"

      • :-)

        • This is a stream up with which I will not put.

  2. My most recent discovery is this guy:

    His track called Soul Kiss would make the list for sure.

    The full list would take a long time to think about and compile. I'll suggest Keep On Doin' by the Isley Brothers, Inspiration Information by Shuggie Otis, Supergroovalasticprosifunktication by Parliament/Funkadelic, and a slough of funk 45s from my favorite DJ blogs.

  3. Two albums by Brad Sucks: I Don't Know What I'm Doing, and Out of It. Both available for free at, both by Ottawa area musician Brad Turcotte, both are rife with awesomeness. Particular gems include: Making Me Nervous, Dropping out of School, Dirtbag, Bad Sign, and Time to Take out the Trash.

  4. Derek and the Dominoes: Layla.

  5. For my own part, I'm gonna build something this summer.

    • Raise a toast to Saint Joe Strummer

  6. Summer of 69 ~ Bryan Adams
    Pretty much anything by Journey, really
    Uptown Girl ~ Billy Joel
    American Pie ~ Don McLean

    Layla is seconded. But the Eric Clapton version is better.

    • Eric Clapton = Derek and the Dominoes (a band he formed with three other dudes – names escape me) – they only had one record release, if I recall.

      • Eric Clapton, and 3 refugees from Bonnie & Delaney. Outstanding.

        • Now I'm wondering what version Kay was thinking of. Probably Counting Crows, Hootie and the Blowfish or some horror of that magnitude….

          • Could be thinking of the Clapton unplugged version

          • Ah, thank you – it all makes sense now!

    • "Uptown Girl?" Really? I'm not judging musical taste here but I would think it would be kind of awkward to be sitting in a convertible, belting this out when Christie Brinkley pulls up in her red Ferrari. F

      (Plus this song tends to get stuck in my head for long periods of time. Like now. Thanks for that.)

      • En excellent point. Kind of like playing Layla to impress George Harrison.

  7. Clear the way for the S, the S1Ws….and Feschuk.

  8. Surfin' in Tofino – the Planet Smashers
    Stars – Reunion (Jason Collett)

  9. Surfin' in Tofino by the Planet Smashers and by the Stars – Reunion (Jason Collett) are both good summer listens….

    • Yes! Anything by the Planet Smashers would work.

  10. There are lots of songs that would pass your tests but today I nominate LL Cool J's Phenomenon and Queen Of The Stone Age's Feel Good Hit Of The Summer.

  11. The Hold Steady – Constructive Summer.

    Do it.

  12. All Summer Long by Kid Rock
    It's so great.

  13. Give Me One Reason – Tracy Chapman

    Most anything by Sam and Dave

    Broken F**king Heart – Luther Wright


    (that's for today – subject to change!)

  14. Dayton, Ohio, 1903 …… Nillson Sings Newman.

  15. What is summer without the Beach Boys – most summery of summery songs ever

  16. Born to Run by the Boss, and if "wrap your legs round these velvet rims and strap your hands across my engines" doesn't meet the elusive meat criteria, I'll eat my tiddlywinks.

  17. Summertime Blues – the Who (from Live at Leeds). Awesomeness personified.

  18. Saints by The Breeders always says summer to me.

    • "Summer's ready … Summer is ready when you are"

      I love that song, totally forgotten about tho. The Deals rock!

  19. Anything by the Beach Boys

    California Dreamin' – Mommas and Papas

    Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf

  20. Under the boardwalk

    Up on the Roof

  21. How about something CANADIAN for a list of great summer songs in a CANADIAN magazine! My suggestion is "Sunny Days" by Lighthouse.

  22. Our vacation doesn't start until my husband hits "play" and the Santana fills the air . . .

  23. Scott Feschuk is blogging about Neutral Milk Hotel… he crossed the streams and it was hot.
    I understand that we're trying to actually emphasize quality here but I agree with "Kay", there needs to be Journey and Peterborough's 101.5 The Wolf (basically April Wine, Tragically Hip, etc.). Now, I'm not proud of these choices and I suspect that April Wine does in fact rhyme with Ficklethack but these are my summer ballads, sorry.

  24. How about something for people "of a certain age"?
    I nominate Chad & Jeremy, " A Summer Song."

  25. I nominate a trio of songs.

    "Glad Girls" by Robert Pollard, which would be, in a just world, the classic summer song of the past decade.

    I second the call for "Constructive Summer" from the Hold Steady. I think Wells would concur.

    Finally, another Minnesota classic "Celebrated Summer" from Husker Du. The 80s alt rock band that never got their du.

  26. I Can See for Miles and Miles – The Who

  27. My summer jam:

    Think About Life- Sweet Sixteen

    It just came out, is from a Canadian band… and I dare your arse to NOT wiggle when you play it, Scott. I dare you!

    Affectionately, M.

  28. Sorry to be getting to this so late—I could have saved you all a lot of time and trouble by proposing these unbeatable songs. For car stereo blasting: "Cheap Champagne" by Sloan. For campfire gazing: "Dandelion Wine" by Ron Sexsmith.

  29. What about Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan?

  30. Modern Love ….. Bowie

    always makes me want to strut my stuff along the boardwalk with a gigantic ghettoblaster perched on my shoulder