Web Exclusive: The Soundtrack of Summer

Road trip-ready tunes that make your summer travels more about the journey and less about the destination.

Summer’s here, I’m for that. Got my rubber sandals, got my straw hat. Drinking cold beer, I’m sure glad that it’s here.” – - James Taylor

Summer has a soundtrack—and the playlist running through our heads is generally a masala of musical styles, a spicy combination of tunes spanning multiple decades and various rhythmic and cultural influences. Particular songs can conjure up the sounds and smells of beach cottage vacations, surf, sand, bathing suits drying on the clothesline, outdoor showers, shrimp kabobs sizzling on the grill, and perhaps the memory of a particular summer romance.  Truly great summer songs are timeless, and the right musical mix can jazz up a dinner party, an outdoor poker game, a picnic on the beach, or an activity as pedestrian as washing the family car.

Which songs define summer for you?

My own sensory perceptions of summer are accompanied by songs that were favorites during my teen years, along with new favorites I’ve collected since. My coming-of-age coincided with a period of musical transition—sandwiched as I was between the Summer of Love, and Donna Summer; between the singer-songwriter, and the disco ball. Thus, my taste in summer music reflects a certain eclecticism. Particularly, those tunes of the early- to mid-70s remind me of strawberry incense, hot summer lawn mowing, Hang Ten t-shirts, cut-off shorts, Birdwell’s Beach Britches, Hawaiian Tropic coconut tanning lotion, and those weird, cheap, tatami flip-flops with the vaguely oriental influence.

Why don’t you roll the musical dice this season and use the following playlist to spice up your MP3 player? Here are some song and CD suggestions to help make your summer truly memorable:

Select Summer Sounds

In the Summertime -– Mungo Gerry
Jamaica Farewell –- Harry Belafonte
Carey –- Joni Mitchell
Oye Como Va -– Santana
Dry County –- B-52’s
Sugar Magnolia -– Grateful Dead
Lazy Day –- Spanky and Our Gang
Up On The Roof -– The Drifters
Bamboo –- Peter, Paul & Mary
Big Heart –- The Lounge Lizards
Girl From Ipanema -– Astrud Gilberto/Joao Gilberto/Stan Getz
Stir It Up –- Bob Marley
Mainline Florida -– Eric Clapton
Land Of The Sea And Sun –- Harry Belafonte
Time of the Season -– The Zombies
Café Atlantico –- Cesaria Evora
Chuck E’s In Love –- Ricki Lee Jones
Grazing In The Grass –- Hugh Masekela
Do It Again, Ricky Don’t Lose That Number –- Steely Dan
Under The Boardwalk –- The Drifters
Blue Bayou –- Linda Ronstadt
Mexican Divorce –- Ry Cooder
Tequila Sunrise –- The Eagles
Smooth Operator –- Sade
Fantastic Voyage –- Coolio
Hot Fun In The Summertime –- Sly and the Family Stone
The Harder They Come –- Jimmy Cliff
Dancin’ In the Moonlight -– King Harvest
Night Ride Home – - Joni Mitchell
Guantanamera – - The Sandpipers
Mexico – - James Taylor
Of course, the Jimmy Buffett or Beach Boys song of your choice

Cool CDs for Summer

Lover’s Luau – - Les Paul & Mary Ford
Mondo Exotica – - Ultra Lounge Records
Sounds of Hawaii – - Kealoha Kono and His Orchestra
Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters – - Dancing Cat Records
Getz/Gilberto – - Verve Records
Mongo Santamaria – - Our Man in Havana
The Now Sound of Brazil – - various Ziriguiboom Label
The Hissing of Summer Lawns – - Joni Mitchell
Havana Café – - Barbarito Torres
Isle of Enchantment/Polynesia – - Author Lyman
Surf Guitar – anything by Dick Dale
Caribbean Steel Drum Music – - Any compilation will do

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