by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)
Through good years and bad, years of triumph and years of struggle, there are some things that remain steady. Like the seasons (at least before climate change).
Today, June 20, is officially the first day of summer, the longest day of the year (for us folks in the Northern Hemisphere), and the welcoming of our warmest weather season.
Packed together this year with Juneteenth yesterday and Father’s Day tomorrow, this weekend can be a true kickoff to summer vacation. Even amid ongoing protests and social distancing rules, school is now over, the grill is now out, the pool is inflated, and maybe, just for a few days, the mood is a little lightened.
And with that, we offer this playlist of “summer” songs – and by that, we mean songs that literally tell you in the title they are about “summer.”
From the swaying Isley Brothers cover of Seals & Croft‘s “Summer Breeze” to DJ Jazzy Jeff & Fresh Prince‘s rap anthem “Summertime” to Sly & The Family Stone‘s warm, feel good “Hot Fun in the Summertime’” to the contemporary mellow moods of Childish Gambino‘s “Summertime Magic” (with over 156M Spotify spins), our list is packed with summer classics.
In the process we’ve also hopefully rediscovered some “shoulda-been” classics, like the mostly forgotten Nat King Cole standard ‘This Morning It Was Summer” (with arrangements by Nelson Riddle), the breezy Larry Graham album track “I’m So Glad It’s Summer Again” (trying to capture a little of the “Hot Fun In the Summertime” mood) and the driving ’60s Joe Simon track “Long Hot Summer.”
In the last couple decades, music archivists have uncovered hundreds of previously unreleased Motown tracks – many that measure up to the hits from the ’60s we all know and love. In that vein, we’ve included two sunny Marvelettes tunes “I Can’t Wait Til Summer Comes” (co-written by Gladys Knight) and “So Glad It’s Summertime” that both remained unreleased in the Motown vaults until a 2011 rerelease.
Finally, no soulful “summer” playlist would be complete without the haunting “Summertime” from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess,one of the most recorded songs in history.
We’ve sprinkled our playlist with musically different takes on this classic, ranging from the ’60s pop hit version by Billy Stewart to the disco instrumental from MFSB to the recent American Idol revival by Fantasia, also including versions by icons like James Brown, Sam Cooke, Ethel Waters, Miles Davis, opera legend Leontyne Price, world music star Angelique Kidjo, and a funky treatment by Bobby Womack with The Roots.
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