Top 15 Summer Songs of All Time

chairsWith Memorial Day weekend ahead of us, it’s the unofficial start of summer. Therefore it’s time once again for the best summer songs of all time, selected by our panel of judges (that’s me). This is a repeat of an earlier Struming on this subject that’s worth another spin of the 45s in my collection. Sticking one’s musical neck out is something I am comfortable doing and I have done so several times in the past with previous musical lists:

Top 20 Records of All time
Top 10 Albums of All time
10 Worst Songs of All Time
20 songs guaranteed to get you a speeding ticket

This eclectic list of top summer songs once again reflects my personal musical taste with a heavy dose of 60s and 80s (ironically light on the 70s & very light on songs of this century). The criteria for selection are very simple:

1. I really like the song
2. The lyrics relate specifically to summer

transistorI love to hear these tunes coming out of my transistor radio, shown here, while relaxing under an umbrella on the beach in my beloved Belmar, NJ. This usually goes hand in hand with reading the NY Post with a deep analysis of the Yankees box score.

So in reverse order, once again, here are the “official” top 15 summer songs of all time:

15. Summertime Blues–Eddie Cochran
This is a classic and the oldest record on the list original recorded in the late 1950s and covered by many—I love The Who’s version. As Eddie sings, “There Ain’t No Cure For the Summertime Blues”

14. Surf’s Up—Beach Boys
This was not one of their mega hits. This tune came from their more progressive early 70s period. I really enjoyed listening to the whole Surf’s Up album in quad stereo in my dorm (Frelinghuysen Room 130) at Rutgers.

13. Summer Girls—LFO
This is one of the more recent entries (16 years ago from 1999). It’s an infectious tune and I admire how they did a shout out to Abercrombie & Fitch.

12. Heat Wave—Martha & the Vandellas
A Motown favorite. Still sounds good after all these years as does Dancin’ in the Streets

11. Vacation–Go Gos
“Vacation. All I ever wanted Vacation. Got to Get Away”. Great tune

10. School’s Out—Alice Cooper
One of my all-time favorites, Alice (Vince Furnier) still rocks with this classic.

9. Girl from Ipanema—Astrud Gilberto
“Tall and tan and young and lovely,
The girl from Ipanema goes walking
And when she passes, each one she passes goes, Aaah…”
I go aaah every time I hear it

8. California Gurls—Katy Perry
My nod to this century, this 2010 pop classic is terrific.

7. Boys of Summer—Don Henley
“Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac”. Any song with Deadhead lyric is already a fave, but this one is truly great.

6. Suddenly Last Summer–The Motels
Moody Memorable and Motels.

5. Cruel Summer—Bananarama
As I write this I can hear the orchestration in my head. Nothing cruel about this tune

4. California Girls—Beach Boys
This Brian Wilson created Beach Boys song is a classic for any season.

3. Summer in the City-Lovin’Spoonful
“Hot town summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty” John Sebastian sang his heart out on this ‘66 Spoonful hit.

2. Hot Fun in the Summertime—Sly & the Family Stone
Right from the opening lyrics they had me:
“End of the spring and here she comes back. Hi, Hi, Hi, Hi, there”
Sly & the Family Stone were one of my favorite groups and in fact I saw them more than 10 times in the early 70s. Sly was undependable, erratic, yet undeniably electric and his funk-rock style blew me away. This slower tune though captures the feeling of summer.

summer-song 1. Summer Song—Chad & Jeremy
Interestingly this melodic song, a 1964 hit, appears on virtually every summer hit list, not just mine

“They say that all good things must end someday
Autumn leaves must fall
But don’t you know that it hurts me so
To say goodbye to you
Wish you didn’t have to go
No, no, no, no”
Bet you can’t read these lyrics without singing them. A truly great song.

So that’s my top 15 list. I humbly think it’s a brilliant list, though I suspect some might feel otherwise. Feedback is always appreciated. Bring it on.

More Strumings


  1. Scott Share says:

    Lonny…love your list…but (as I probably mentioned to you last time you published this list) it’s missing my two very favorite summer-themed songs: Seals and Crofts’ Summer Breeze…and Sinatra’s Summer Wind!

    • Lonny Strum says:

      Scott–Your feedback is appreciated. And the next time I update the list, those tunes could sneak into the top 15. They are certainly worthy.

  2. joel says:

    and…”In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry should be there. Sung many times crawling down the Parkway many years ago.

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