Sunday, March 22, 2009

Top 25 Songs of Summer

This is a list of my Top 25 Songs for Summer. Twenty-five isn't nearly enough to cover much ground, but we'll at least get a start. The songs on this list are tied to strong vibes and emotions that awaken my mind and heart to summer. As a smell can trigger powerful memories, these songs are tied to specific places, times, and activities of summers throughout my life.

#1-4 are all part of Michael Stanley's Weekend Kickoff on 98.5 WNCX. Every Friday at 5pm Michael Stanley plays the same four tunes in a row, officially starting the weekend in Cleveland. I live in Cincinnati now, and so I have the songs in my iPod and I play them on Friday whenever I'm in the car.

#1 Born to Run -- Bruce Springsteen (1975) -- this is the song that got me hooked on Springsteen. This is probably not an uncommon story.

#2 This Beat Goes On -- The Kings (1980) -- it's a shame that no one knows who this band is. This song and #3 are written to play one after the other. And they rock ass!!

#3 Switchin' to Glide -- The Kings (1980)

#4 Bang the Drum All Day -- Todd Rundgren (1983) -- Did you know that Todd Rundgren played guitar and produced Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf?

The rest of the list reflects some (but not all) of the songs that remind me of summer. You'll note that there are no Beatles, Creedence, Led Zeppelin, U2 or Beach Boys on this list. The Beach Boys and Creedence both are their own genres of summer music. This list reflects the songs that are tied to some of earliest and strongest memories of summer, stretching from my youth into my college years.

#5 Baba O'Riley -- The Who (1971) - Is this the best Who song?

#6 Walk of Life -- Dire Straits (1985) - The organ hook at the beginning grabs me every time.

#7 The Boys of Summer (1984) -- Don Henley - His best song by himself (1984). I dated a girl with brown skin that shined in the sun.

#8 Summer of '69 -- Brian Adams (1983) -- the classic summer rock song for me and my friends.

#9 Jack & Diane -- John Cougar (1982) -- How many people have you seen play air guitar to the repeated acoustic line in this song?

#10 A Kind of Magic -- Queen (1986) -- Freddie Mercury died when I was a senior in high school. Queen was having a huge resurgence at that time because of the movie Wayne's World, which introduced "Bohemian Rhapsody" to a whole new generation. I bought the tape Classic Queen on a date with my girlfriend near the end of my senior year. "A Kind of Magic" was the first track. I played that tape 'til it broke.

#11 My Best Friend's Girl -- The Cars (1978) -- I'm a Cars fan mainly because I had two older brothers who blasted this fabulous music from their attic bedroom when I was a little, little kid.

#12 All Along the Watchtower -- Jimi Hendrix (1968) -- Try to sit back and listen to this like you're hearing it for the first time.

#13 Let's Go Crazy -- Prince (1984) -- Sorry Jimi, Prince's guitar is a shade better than yours (especially here), and he didn't kill himself.

#14 Won't Get Fooled Again -- The Who (1971) -- Is the Who possibly better than the Beatles? or U2?

#15 Burn On -- Randy Newman (1972) -- Even though this song is about the Cuyahoga River catching on fire (which is a great source of shame for Clevelanders), I love it. It's from the great film Major League.

#16 My Town -- Michael Stanley Band (1983) -- the all-time Cleveland fight song. I love this song.

#17 Love Stinks -- J. Geils Band (1980) -- A great anti-relationship song. My brother had this album.

#18 NightSwimming -- R.E.M. (1992) -- On my first date with my wife (July 1994), we went swimming late at night at my friend Bobby's pond. It was like we acted out this song. I remember thinking about it in my head when it was happening.

#19a Centerfield -- John Fogerty (1985) -- John Fogerty's great song about playing baseball. The music video is a great montage of black and white baseball reels.

#19b Heat of the Moment -- Asia (1982) -- after listening to this song again it's not that great. But it still takes me back to summers growing up.

#20 Bat out Of Hell -- Meatloaf (1977) -- 10 minutes of awesome, gushing, over the top, noir rock 'n roll.

#21 Hungry Heart -- Bruce Springsteen (1980) -- There are ten potential Springsteen songs that are on my summer list. His music more than anyone's makes me want to mow my grass, crack open a High Life and stretch out in lawn chair. Awesome!

#22 Life's Been Good -- Joe Walsh (1978) -- My brothers had this album. I thought the James Gang was a bunch of cowboys back then.

#23 The End of the Innocence -- Don Henley (1989) -- This was more my college years. My friend Matt owned this CD and we listened to it incessantly. On Spring Break in 1993 I learned all the lyrics to this song by heart.

#24 Freebird -- Lynyrd Skynyrd (1974) -- I used to listen to this one over and over driving around after toking. Once again, college years.

#25 Maggot Brain -- Funkadelic (1971) -- Every Saturday night on WNCX they closed out their Saturday Night request show at midnight with Maggot Brain. It's a 10 min. acid guitar solo in E. Sweet.

5 Alternates
-- in case you don't like any of the first 25.

Alt. #1 American Girl -- Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1977)
Alt. #2 Heartache Tonight -- Eagles (1979)
Alt. #3 He Can't love You -- Michael Stanley Band (1980)
Alt. #4 Paradise By the Dashboard Light -- Meatloaf (1977)
Alt. #5 Time Warp/Sweet Transvestite -- Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

More Later . . . 


Ron said...

dude, a great list. only those who grew up in northeast ohio can really appreciate some of your picks.

Anonymous said...

It's nice that your brothers had a formative effect on your listening tastes. I didn't realize that we had the tunes on so loud.