The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Summer Tunes

It's hot out, and it's been hot out for a long time now. Personally I love it (especially considering the alternative). And it puts me in the mood for upbeat music.

There are a few universal Summer songs out there (Summer in the City, Lovin Spoonful, etc.), but for the most part everyone has their own, and I think that more than any other season, Summer tunes evoke very specific memories. Here are ten of my favorites:

1. Good - Better Than Ezra

This song always makes me think of summers in college, even though it predates me being in college by several years. I suppose it's the lyrics.

2. Hope I Never Lose My Wallet - The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

One of the best bands to see live (although I'm not sure that they still play since lead singer Dicky Barrett became the announcer for Jimmy Kimmel Live). Being crammed into a small venue for a hot ska show makes you think of summer no matter what time of year it is. It's hot, it's sweaty, and the energy is unparalleled. This, and their later tune "She Just Happened" are personal summer classics.

Once I saw them play at the Wisconsin State Fair in 100 degree heat, and they gave a great effort, considering that, like all ska bands, they perform in suits.

3. Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

Don't lie to me, you had MTV Party To Go, Volume 2, too. Everyone did. (You also had the Ghostbusters II Soundtrack.) This was the highlight of an outstanding collection.

4. Bad - U2

I had this on a summer mix tape right after "No Woman, No Cry" which may have contributed to its personal summer feel for me. Since it's about heroin use and all. It is still the best U2 song ever written.

In 1987 U2 played this at the Rosemont Horizon where we learned a very important lesson: The crowd will cheer for their hometown regardless of context.

Bono: This is a song about heroin. It's tearing the heart out of the city of Dublin, and it's tearing the heart out of the city of Chicago.

Crowd: (upon hearing "Chicago") Whooo! Yeahhhh!

5. Bus to Beelzebub - Soul Coughing

My wife had this great mix tape our freshman year, and this was the anchor. I'll bet I listened to that thing a thousand times that summer. I wonder if it's still around somewhere. Their "Soft Serve" is also quite excellent.

6. The Rain King - Counting Crows

Just an upbeat (I think) tune that sticks in your head. Also, on August and Everything After, the transition from "Raining in Baltimore" into "A Murder of One" is one of the greatest transitions in music history. If I'm in the right mood I still get goose bumps.

7. 1979 - The Smashing Pumpkins

That's really the whole idea behind this song, right?

8. My Name Is Jonas - Weezer

A great summertime song to kick off a great summertime album. The first chord sets the whole tone for the album. Plus I like the idea of workers going home.

9. Sick of Myself - Matthew Sweet

I can't help singing along whenever this comes on. Plus this is a great use of lyric inversion:

I'm sick of myself when I look at you,
Something as beautiful and true,
In a world that's ugly and a lie
It's hard to even want to try,

10. (Tie) Ana Ng - They Might Be Giants


When I was driving once I saw this painted on a bridge:

I don't want the world,
I just want your half.


Add It Up - The Violent Femmes

They play Summerfest every single year and I never get tired of hearing this tune live. The perfect blend of crescendo and unnecessary vulgarity.


  • I was at that Bosstones show at the State Fair. I was pretty much dead center sixth row. The first and only time I saw them. It was pretty sweet.

    By Anonymous mitch, at 4:00 PM  

  • Nice work Paul, I agree with your selections completely. I may add some of my own favs in the future. There is something about summer that inevitably makes me think of favorite tunes. I guess it's the fact that we have 9 months of bad weather to think about what we'll play at the summer bbq's!

    By Blogger Jason, at 3:18 AM  

  • Great list; I'd particularly like to second selections 4, 8, and 9.

    Two additional comment:

    1. Weezer is playing Summerfest this year (I've got tickets; bonus: the Pixies).

    2. Any version of "Bad" will do just fine, but the version on Wide Awake in America is particularly outstanding.

    By Blogger PRB, at 9:44 AM  

  • Agreed, the Wide Awake in America version blows everything else out of the water (other than a few live versions). Actually, the version on the Rattle and Hum movie is also quite good.

    I was hoping to catch that show, but unfortunately I think it's during the week. I might catch them at Lollapalooza down here instead. I've seen Weezer once before (with Tenacious D, of all people)and they were great.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 10:40 AM  

  • I don't know, it fits your theme, but "Summertime" isn't even close to being one of D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's best songs.

    By the way, has there ever been a duo where one of the two had a higher percentage of the post-breakup earnings? I mean, I'm sure Art Garfunkle still makes decent coin, Sonny Bono suckled at the government teat until that tree killed him, Kathie Lee was still making cruise commercials when Regis was making $20M on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," etc. But the Fresh Prince is getting eight-figure paydays while Jeff is sitting in his studio apartment eating ramen and wondering why no one offered him "I Robot."

    By Blogger MDS, at 1:17 PM  

  • Yeah, but Nightmare on My Street, and I think I can beat Mike Tyson didn't really do it for me. Plus the entire Party to go v. 2 is classic.

    And no, there has not. Here's a good question though. Could a reunited Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff playing their old kits command more money than Will Alone, such as the case with Simon and Garfunkle?

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 1:36 PM  

  • I'd love to see them reunited, but I think Will Smith would have to make a whole lot of box-office bombs before it would be worth it to him financially. There just doesn't seem to be a big market for non-gangsta rap any more.

    When Simon and Garfunkle get together, how do they divvy up the lucre? I have to assume Simon gets the lion's share, and it would be the same with DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. But I still don't think a reunion tour would generate enough to make up for Will Smith missing a movie shoot.

    By Blogger MDS, at 2:27 PM  

  • Did you watch the Will Smith "concert" that aired prior to the tip-off of game 1 of the NBA finals this year? I could have sworn that was DJ Jazzy Jeff working the turntables. I guess he decided that giving up his final ounce of dignity in exchange for two minutes of national TV exposure was a fair trade. In his case, it probablty was.

    By Blogger dhodge, at 10:29 PM  

  • I actually try really hard to avoid every pre-sporting event concert, so I missed that one. If I had known it would be DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and not just Will Smith, I would have tuned in. Really, the only sporting event concerts I watch are the Super Bowl pregame and halftime shows, and that's just because I'm terrified that if I don't watch I'll fail to turn back in time and miss some of the game.

    By Blogger MDS, at 8:50 AM  

  • I thought that Jazzy Jeff has been Will Smith's dj this whole time. I think he still plays with Will on every album. His name has just been dropped from the bill. I guess I could be wrong though. He played Will's best friend on Fresh Prince of Bell Aire too. That's a fact.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 4:58 PM  

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