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This tattered summery song was recorded by Pavement and released in 1992 by Drag City Records just before it folded. The song was then re-recorded as “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” and became the opening track on the band’s debut album Slanted and Enchanted. Both versions are evocative, conjuring up a summer infatuation “mixin’ up cocktails with a plastic-tipped cigar“. Steven Malkmus’ aloof, half-spoken vocals, mixed with the offbeat lyrics and guitar distortion are an archetype of the band’s signature lo-fi sound.
Released in 1983 off of Missing Persons’ Spring Session M, “Walking in L.A.” is a song that nails summer in Los Angeles. The imagery of walking through the heat of the city, seeing a “lame jogger“, a “shopping cart pusher“, and a “roller skater in some kind of headphone disguise“, coupled with the bouncy keyboards that open the song, make this tune a summer classic. You can almost see the heat rolling off the blacktop.
In addition to being one of the band’s most thrilling choral epics, “Summer and Lightning“ from ELO’s classic 1977 Out of the Blue is a quintessential summer storm song. When the swelling harmony comes in: “It’s all around me, It must be magic“, it’s guaranteed to raise the hair on the back of your neck. “Summer and Lightning“ is a sparkling example of Jeff Lynne’s ability to create that unmistakable and original ELO sound.
Any song with clapping in it suggests summer; The Cars’ classic “Let’s Go“ from their 1979 album Candy-O is the perfect example. Written by Ric Ocasek and sung by the late Benjamin Orr, “Let’s Go“ is the ideal tune to play in the car with the windows rolled all the way down. If you were a child of the ‘70s, the song may very well conjure summers past. As Orr sings about a 17-year-old who likes the nightlife and “doesn’t wear her shoes“, the song’s springy synthesizers beg the listener to get up and go.
“When I’m out walkin’, I strut my stuff – yeah, I’m so strung out,” sings Gordan Gano on one of the most recognizable Violent Femmes songs. The carefree, bratty attitude of “Blister in the Sun“ goes hand-in-hand with summertime vacation and teenage mischief. Released in 1983 from the Femmes’ self-titled album, “Blister in the Sun“ was later featured in the film, Grosse Point Blank in 1997. The inclusion in the movie resulted in a wacky video for the song made up of movie clips and clips of Gano apparently plotting to kill President Clinton’s cat, Socks.