I was halfway through a piece on holograms of dead people and why they freak me out, but stopped, mid-rant, and thought to myself, “No. Now is not the time for such negativity.” Now is the time for celebration! For song! For it is now May, dear friends, and that means the chill of winter has long faded and the tepid air of spring is quickly burning away to welcome the most carefree of all seasons: summer.
I love summer. It’s a time for swimming pools and trips to the beach, BBQs and parties with friends old and new, sundresses and jorts, bars with patios and apartments with roof access. Despite having said farewell long ago to summers free from school and employment, this season, to me, still retains a lot of its sense of freedom and vivacity. Summer is a time for adventure at its best (and humidity at its worst, but let’s ignore that for the sake of this article). And what better to go with an adventure than a killer soundtrack?
I listen to music almost constantly. On my walk to the subway, on the subway, at work, sitting in the park, going on a run. When I’m happy, I want to listen to something that reflects that, to something that absorbs my happiness, enhances it and spits it back out at me. When I’m sad I want the same; I want the singer and band to be miserable too. I want them to wallow with me and understand the depths of emotion to which I can sink. In a similar way, the onset of summer directly affects my music selection.
I want the music that surrounds me from late May to August to mirror how I feel about the season. The songs don’t have to be about summer, per se, but need to embody that same carefree enthusiasm for being alive and being with friends. These songs are my hot summer jams, and I want to share a few of my favorite with you today.
“Sherry Darling” – Bruce Springsteen
Maybe the quintessential hot summer jam? From the bouncing piano to the
lyrics about beers on the beach, from the “hey hey hey” to the raucous hollering of party-goers in the backdrop, I’m hard-pressed to find a song that tops this one.
“Constructive Summer” – The Hold Steady
Well, duh, it’s in the name. It’s about making crazy plans with your friends, losing yourself in the restorative power of summer, drinking on water towers. Probably not safe, but it sounds like a ton of fun when The Hold Steady presents in their signature rock n’ roll style.
“Lust for Life” – Girls
I mean, that’s what summer is, right? A lust for living it to the fullest. “I wish I had a suntan. I wish I had a pizza and a bottle of wine.” The lyrics are a charming and twee, and the melody is pop-perfect and sunny as a Southern California afternoon.
“Go Outside” – Cults
Cults, one of my new favorite artists of last year, really excel at catching the bright and upbeat sound that I associate with summer days. Now go outside already!
“Rockaway Beach” – Ramones
I have a very special place in my heart for The Ramones. I personally think that a lot of their energetic brand of punk falls into the “hot summer jam” designation for me, but this one particularly fits the description with its downright danceable, bouncing melody and its longing for the joys of the beach.
While summer certainly isn’t the ideal I entertain in my imagination anymore, it nevertheless retains much of the character and sentiment of the songs that I’ve outlined above. I, and most of my friends, spend a majority of our summer days indoors at our jobs or the like, but deep in our hearts, and out on our weekends, we know the indomitable spirit of summer and its hot jams cannot be crushed.
The aforementioned tunes were but a brief taste of my favorite summer songs. For a more comprehensive list, and to add your own (please contribute there or in the comments), visit my “Hot Summer Jams” Spotify playlist.