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Top Songs of Summer for the First Day of Summer

Claudia's picks for the best all-time songs to wile away a summer day.

Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg's California Gurls made the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Top 30 Summer Songs of All Time. Fun song, but it doesn’t make my top 10.

You’ll probably find some of my picks for best all-time songs of summer that you will agree with. Others, maybe not so much.

To me these are the songs that feel like summer. Not necessarily the songs that were the hits of summer. These are the songs to listen to while lying on the beach or perhaps on your deck, cool drink in hand. Or the songs that bring wistful memories of summer’s past.

The picks are in no particular order. If you like them, you can find Claudia’s Summer Picks playlist on YouTube, which also has additional summer songs.

Here are my top summer songs: 

Summertime, Janis Joplin 

Summertime, Billy Stewart 

Perhaps predictable, but I believe this is the quintessential summer song. It’s a great song and one of the most widely covered by so many artists — Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Stewart, Janis Joplin, more recently Norah Jones. Summer time and the livin’ is easy — so smooth; it speaks summer. 

Summer Breeze

The original by Seals & Croft is a lovely, timeless version. But check out this version by one of my favorite artists, Jason Mraz; it will make you feel fine.

California Girls, The Beach Boys

I have a personal relationship to this song as I spent two wonderful, youthful summers in California, being a California girl. Of course, any Beach Boys song could have made this list.

The Boys of Summer, Don Henley

Baseball, summer love … 

Jammin, Bob Marley

It could really be any song by Bob Marley. No the song doesn’t say summer in the title, but reggae music  really SAYS summer. Jammin is one of Marley’s easy-going songs; it won’t make you think too much, just sway to the music. 

Wake Me Up When September Ends, Green Day

Kind of a painful summer song, actually more of an end of summer song. Not the joyful, drinking-margaritas-by-the-pool-type song. This one is more for your introspective summer moments. 

Blue Skies, Willie Nelson

I have a great memory laying in a raft on a lake in Wisconsin looking up at the big blue sky. Very happy song that says all is perfect in the world on a perfect summer day. Written by Irving Berlin in 1926 and covered by many.

Vacation, GoGos

Really, a vacation is all I ever wanted. I love the girls Tommy Bartlett show in the video. 

Cruel Summer, Bananarama

What can I say? I like girl bands.

Summer Wine

Dreamy song, first made popular by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood in 1967, but I really like this more recent version by The Corrs and Bono.

Soak Up The Sun, Sheryl Crow

Lighten up! It's summer. 

For the Summer, Ray LaMontagne

Love his voice and if he's singing about summer, he's got to be on my list. 

Did you notice this top 10 list turned into something like 12 or 13?

Tell us about your favorite summer songs. What songs are summer to your ears?

William Lee June 20, 2012 at 02:06 PM
No summer list is complete without Summer in the City by the Lovin' Spoonful!
Mike Stickler June 20, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Here's my TOP TEN SUMMER SONGS. Just have to crank up the volume just under the distortion level and sing along when I hear them on the radio! 10. Slippin' Into Darkness (LIVE) - War 9. Nowhere To Run – Martha & The Vandellas 8. Hot Fun In The Summertime – Sly & The Family Stone 7. Saturday In The Park - Chicago 6. Dance, Dance, Dance – The Beach Boys 5. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zepplin 4. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – Jerry Lee Lewis 3. Summer In The City – The Lovin’ Spoonful 2. Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones 1. Little Bit O’ Soul – The Music Explosion
Claudia Lenart (Editor) June 20, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Summer in the City has a great sound, would have to agree it's a keeper for a summer soundtrack. Saturday in the Park by Chicago reminds me of my summer childhood in Chicago.
Von Groovie June 20, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Alright just a couple of my summer fav's............... Could be were in love - Cryan Shames....This song was all over WLS in the summer of 1967..."Didn't it seen right to walk along the sand last and to gaze out at the night...could be we're in love"...........Yes Summer... Walking on Sunshine - Kartrina & the Waves.......Not sure what ever happend to Katrina Leskanich but no problem with being a 1 hit wonder.... Surfin Safari - Beach Boys...If you gotta ask, please go away..........Happy Summer!!
Pam DeFiglio (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Great picks, Claudia. Also, yes to "Saturday in the Park," and how about "Summer" by War?
Korrina Grom (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 02:47 AM
Here are my favorite summer songs: "One Love" by Bob Marley, "Porcelain" by Moby and "Endless Summer" by Zwan (which was a band Billy Corgan started after the break-up of the Smashing Pumpkins).
Steven Bohne June 21, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Summer Wind - Frank Sinatra. A true classic!
Claudia Lenart (Editor) June 21, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Thanks, I'm adding some of these great suggestions to my YouTube playlist.
Claudia Lenart (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Echo Beach by Martha and the Muffins. I forgot how much I like that song, but every time I drive by Echo Lake, it starts playing in my head.

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