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Monday, July 9, 2012

What Makes A Good Summer Song?

Artist Chuck Prophet’s song “Summertime Thing” is a favorite of Here & Now literary critic Steve Almond. (Chuck Prophet Facebook)

For our literary critic Steve Almond, Chuck Prophet’s “Summertime Thing” is a perfect summer song.

“Summer is a time for pleasure and leisure and as soon as you hear the opening chord of this song, it’s something biochemical or neurological, it just relaxes me,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young.

Winter and fall are for brooding and having indie cred, Almond says, but not summer.

Reinventing George Gershwin

Artist Angelique Kidjo, one of Steve Almond’s summer favorites. (Flickr/ActiveSteve)

“I’m a big fan of big bright sunny melodies and beautiful relaxed arrangements,” Almond said.

His favorite songs this summer range from Van Morrison’s “Youth of A Thousand Summers” to a cover of “Summertime” by African artist Anglique Kidjo.

“This to me is the most beautiful instance of reverse colonialism,” Almond said. “She takes this beautiful song from George Gershwin and absolutely reinvents it.”

Porch Music And Nostalgia

Almond also recommended Jukebox the Ghost‘s song, “Everybody Knows,” which reminded Robin of “The Whole of the Moon,” by the Waterboys.

And if you’ll be kicking back on your porch this summer, Almond says turn up Tim Gearan’s “Should Have Gone Home.”

“I think of this as great porch music. You’re sitting around on your porch, maybe dusk is coming, you’ve got a malted beverage perhaps,” he said.

Almond also says that another essential element for a summer song is nostalgia.

“Summer is this time that’s so beautiful and so intense and so wonderful, but it’s also fleeting and it disappears,” he said.

Steve Almond’s Songs of Summer

  • Chuck Prophet, “Summertime Thing” (from the album “No Other Love”)
  • Tim Gearan, “Should Have Gone Home” (from the album “Riverboat”)
  • Anglique Kidjo, “Summertime” (from the album “Keep On Moving-Best of Angelique Kidjo”)
  • Jukebox the Ghost, “Everybody Knows” (from the album “Safe Travels”)
  • Laura Veirs, “July Flame” (from the album “July Flame”)
  • Van Morrison “Youth of A Thousand Summers”(from the album “Enlightenment”)

Steve Also Recommends

  • Butch Walker, “Summer of ‘89” (off the album “Spades”)
  • Gillian Welch, “Summer Evening” (off the album “Going Driftless”)
  • Jens Lekman “A Sweet Summer Night on Hammer Hill” (off the album “Oh You’re So Silent Jens”)
  • Jonathan Richman, “That Summer Feeling” (off the album “I, Jonathan”)
  • The Hold Steady, “Constructive Summer” (off the album “Stay Positive”)


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  • Apdpalmer

    Summertime by Buffalo Tom

  • Rex

    Another Summer by Roman Candle.  It’s far from the guest’s version of chill, but it’s a solid non-mainstream rock song.

  • Somvill

    Glad to see richman’s song.

    switching gears, some great lounge music is Bossy Mundo.

  • J Frog

    I think certain groups when I think Summer.  Can’t get more summer for me than a road trip with America and “Ventura Highway”


  • Jen Lirio

    Summertime by The Sundays.  It’s like sitting under a great big willow tree watching the wind blow through the branches.

  • Melissarahn

    Summertime Rolls by Jane’s Addiction.

  • MM

    “Summertime” by My Chemical Romance… there’s nothing about the lyrics that conjure up summertime. It’s actually a combo heartbreak/love song, but the jangly guitars and pop rhythm is like an amusement park thrill ride.

  • Julymermaid

    Plain White T’s  “Rhythm of Love”  I will always associate love of the beach in the summer and a very special wedding…google the video

  • Thmkyle3

    Blue Sky by the Allman Brothers Band is probably my all time favorite summer song.  This year’s summer jam for me is Rosalee by the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. 

  • Hwhite

    Growing up in the 50′s and 60′s, I would have to say “Summertime, Summertime” by the Jamies, followed by “Surf City” by Jan & Dean, “The Girls on the Beach” and “My Little Honda” by the Beach Boys.  Summer all the way!

  • Shannon

    Praise by Kinnie Starr!

  • guest

    Caller No.99 by Chris Cohen 

  • Esp

    Summer Wind by Madeleine Peyroux. My favorite this year .

  • MamaRow

    favorite summer song: REM’s “Night Swimming” because it is everything a song about fleeting and lovely summer experiences should be.

  • StevenHB

    US Blues by the Grateful Dead reminds me of summer – it was especially popular among the Deadheads with whom I went to camp

  • ET

    “Dream’  – by  Mahavishnu Orchestra -  Live in Central Park 1972  – from Between “Nothingness and Eternity”

  • karen ulvila

    Best summer song ever: Theme from “A Summer Place”! Percy Faith 1959

  • karen ulvila

    Best summer song ever: Theme from “A Summer Place”!  1959 Percy Faith.

  • shagua563


  • shagua563


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