You're about to hit the road on a hot summer night. You're sick of the stale songs coming out of the radio, and you've listened to the same songs on your iPod for the millionth time. But you want some music to go along with your surroundings, as you put the top down on a trip to nowhere particular.
Need some audio ideas for the ride? You've cruised to the right place.
In the next five pages, you're going to be re-introduced to five songs you know very, very well -- but may have forgotten how powerfully they symbolize July's swelter or the awesomeness of August. The songs aren't just about summer. They ARE summer.
If you don't agree, no problem. It's the best time of the year, and there are no arguments here. Just sit back, and try to soak it in, man. It'll be cool.
No. 5: "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra
We must start with The Chairman of the Board. Why? Lyrics, baby, lyrics. "Summer Wind" is heartbreaking in its honesty about the season, especially if you live in an area of the country with four distinct seasons.
"Like painted kites, those days and nights … they went flying by," Sinatra croons. "The world was new beneath the blue umbrella sky."
Swoooon. The song itself was written by Johnny Mercer (lyrics) and Henry Mayer (music) in 1965. Wayne Newton recorded it first, and it peaked at No. 78 on the U.S. charts that year. The following year, 1966, Sinatra grabbed it and it climbed to No. 25 on the Billboard pop singles chart and No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart. By the turn of the century, it was one of Ol' Blue Eyes most-used recordings, including ad campaigns for Major League Baseball and Mastercard.
That's the history of this tune. The heart of it? It's Sinatra's timeless delivery -- perfect in every syllable.
No. 4: "School's Out" by Alice Cooper
You know what? Sinatra is great, but Alice Cooper may have recorded a better summer song. So says a 14-year-old kid lounging on a couch in mid-July. "It's a song that starts off summer," the lad says of "School's Out."
Too bad the lyrics aren't entirely accurate. "School's out for summer," Cooper blares. "School's out forever!"
Uh, Al, that's not entirely true, as any student will tell you. They get about three months before it's back to the grinder -- but we get the point.
The song itself reached No. 7 on the Billboard charts when it was released in 1972. It was the title track on Cooper's fifth album.
Cooper has said in interviews that along with opening Christmas presents, the last minutes of a school year are the greatest three minutes in life. Catch that feeling in a song, and you have audio gold. He did, singing, "Out for summer. Out 'till fall. We might not come back at all." Now that's breezy.
No. 3: "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan
When it comes to funky '60s songs, Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime" was in the running here, but didn't make the cut. Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" is just a tad more impressive.