The concept of “summer” has a bit of a personality crisis in the world of popular music.
Some songs about summer contain lyrics about having fun, basking in sunlight, the kind of activities that Jimmy Buffett is into, etc.
Some songs about summer contain lyrics about #heavy topics such as growing old, lost love, dying, getting ready to die, etc.
Naturally, it’s about time that somebody created a(n) (info)graphic that maps summer songs on a continuum with “partying” being the ceiling of the positive and “death” being the floor of the negative.
Criteria for inclusion
1. Must have the word “summer” in the title
2. Must be on my iPod.
The (info)graphic is below along with some observations about a few of these tunes.
The Manic Street Preachers sing “Die in the Summertime”: An easy choice as the floor. Key lyric: “I wanna die/Die in the summertime/I wanna die”. Not much ambiguity there.
Ice Cube sings “My Summer Vacation”: This popular children’s song talks about an LA turf war that spills over into St Louis and elsewhere. Personally, I like to think that Ozzie Smith’s iconic home run off Tom Niedenfuer could have been a bit of bedrock for this conflict? Maybe? Please?
Michael Legrand sings “The Summer Knows”: My choice for the most melancholy tune on this (info)graphic. Impressive considering it’s an instrumental although I will confess, I actually have the Henry Mancini version, not the Legrand original. Unrelated, Legrand’s niece is the singer in Beach House.
Banarama sing “Cruel Summer”: This song is technically not about work. However, I mainly remember the video depicting the three (uh) Banaramers working on their car as part of a gig at the gas station. In a pivotal moment, the baggy-clad beauties hijack an 18-wheeler (by dancing!) and engage in a low-speed chase from the cops. As part of the getaway, they actually throw banana peels at the officers in a callback (of sorts) to their name (cc: Fiona Apple, Peaches).
Victoria Williams sings “Summer of Drugs”: I was really on the fence if this was a positive or negative song. If it wasn’t for the part about the snake bite and the swelling that resulted, I’d probably make it the former.
Cocteau Twins sing “Frou-Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires”: Not so much about drugs. But sounds druggy. See also Mogwai and Galaxie 500.
Queens of the Stone Age sing “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”: Very much about drugs. Sounds druggy.
North Star Camp Kid’s Chorus sings “Are You Ready for the Summer?”: I’d really like to know how this song found its way on my iPod. Also, I just learned my dad hates Bill Murray. Need more details on this.
Bryan Adams sings “Summer of ’69”: If it weren’t for the CRTC and CanCon, would this song have come under more scrutiny from censors and Tipper Gore wannabes? I mean, check the song title. It’s not exactly subtle.