Released in 1966, "Sunshine Superman" was really the first psychedelic pop single to hit No. 1 on the charts, selling 800,000 copies in just six weeks. It featured future Led Zeppelin superstar Jimmy Page on guitar and also contained one of the first references to LSD in popular music, with the line "I could've tripped out easy, but I've changed my ways."
The song also appeals to the common geek/nerd happy to find comic book references in popular culture, with the only reference to DC superhero Green Lantern in pop music history. Geeky, but not the deciding factor of cool. That's Donovan himself -- and his refrain.
It goes like this: "Cause I made my mind up, you're going to be mine."
That's a boy in love who won't take no for an answer. That's positively thinking. That's summer.
No. 2: "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Here's a challenge: Find a better hip-hop tune than "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Good luck.
Released in 1991, this Grammy-winning chart-topper is breath of fresh summer air. Pun intended. Summer oozes out of the lines: "You're invited to a barbecue that's starting at 4. Sitting with your friends cause y'all reminisce about the days growing up and the first person you kiss."
Sometimes it's easy to dismiss rap as noise, but that is poetry. The music video produced with this song is even better, especially when the camera zooms in on the kids in bright T-shirts running around at the barbecue.
"All the kids playing out front. Little boys messin' round with the girls playing double-dutch, while the DJ's spinning a tune as the old folks dance at your family reunion."
Actually, the images of the old folks are what makes you smile the most. Old people dancing on grass in the summertime sounds like something you'd find in heaven. Think about it, and it almost makes you cry. Heck, the video to this song is poetry in motion.
No. 1: "California Girls" by The Beach Boys or David Lee Roth
We save the best for last. California Girls. And you know what, the versions recorded by the Beach Boys and David Lee Roth are both great. Play either one, and you get the central idea, "I wish they could all be California girls."
Penned by Brian Wilson and Mike Love in 1965, "California Girls" reached No. 3 on the U.S. charts for the Beach Boys, and when Van Halen's David Lee Roth did a cover of it 20 years later, it hit No. 3 on the charts again.
Roth's 1985 video of the song was an MTV staple that year, and can be put in a time capsule to show future generations what the music video age represented at its zenith.
Yep, it was that good. So is the song. Be it Roth or Boys, for millions, this is the ultimate summer anthem, featuring imagery to keep you warm in North Dakota in January:
"The West coast has the sunshine, and the girls all get so tanned. I dig a French bikini on Hawaii island, dolls by a palm tree in the sand."