Summer’s almost over. Pretty damn well over by most accounts, but I’m one who holds until the end of August. I’ve been meaning to put down two lists of ten – Movies That Make Me Think of Summer Most and Songs That Make My Personal Summer Playlist.
In case, you can’t tell this is obviously the latter and these are my ten songs, selected in a specific order that give me a personal narrative on my feelings about the hot sunny season with too much free time and too little places to be for me.
Same Ol’ Rules I applied for my Halloween Playlist: 10 Songs Max., 5 Min. One song per artist. I like to force myself to pick songs that don’t directly talk about the topic in order to challenge myself on explaining what makes me think of the topic from those songs.
- “Good Times Bad Times” – Led Zeppelin. More than being my favorite song of all time starting my favorite album of all time from my favorite band of all time (also my favorite performance by my favorite drummer – John Bonham), it just a sort of kick-back feel that insists you start to lay down and get relaxed for brown-eyed girls and passing memories.
2. “Jaded” – Aerosmith. Arguably the song that is of the lowest quality on this playlist (My love for Aerosmith aside, Just Push Play is a major contender for worst album I love anyway because back of), the jangling swinging riff totally touches on that nostalgia stream that I like to pretend I’m fully immune to.
3. “Do You Feel It?” – Chaos Chaos. Totally found out about this song through Rick & Morty and I know most people will mainly associate it with one of the darkest moments that show has had, but I listen to the song by itself and it’s clearly more of an atmospheric tune while you’re zooming through the sky with only one other person. Y’all zoom through the sky, right? Or are y’all basic?
4. “In a Sentimental Mood” – Ella Fitzgerald. ‘Cause I can’t relax unless Ella’s up on the stereo, bruh. It ain’t a cool night unless Ella keeping me cool from the hot summer night.
5. “Never Meant” – American Football. Mathcore has never been my strong suit (in fact most -core bands are not my thing, the main -core band I can think of actually liking enough to call myself a fan is Killswitch Engage’s metalcore) but there’s a firefly in the sky, Americana feel to this song, especially in its fragmented lyrical phrasing, that makes me think about how fragile relations and memories can be in this life and what is more fleeting than the empty span of isolated time that is summer holiday when you’re back as a teenager?
6. “Waiting Hare” – Buckethead feat. Serj Tankian & Shana Halligan. Buckethead is always gonna be on this shit, you better get used to it. He’s one of my favorite artists for a reason (and my ideal composer for any films I make). He’s able to use that guitar to tune up to any mood necessary for a song. But here, he just lays the groundwork for an off-kilter yet romantic dialogue-based fantasy between another artist I admire, System of a Down’s Tankian in one of his most turned-down (yet still eccentric) performances and Halligan, who I’m otherwise unfamiliar with, but her voice here is memorable enough that I don’t forget her name. Also, alongside Lupe Fiasco’s “The Instrumental”, it was my favorite song to drum to (I’d practice fills during the guitar solo).
7. “Have You Seen Mary” – Sponge. I honestly had trouble picking a Sponge song for this, but they were always my type of summer music (them being generic 90s twangy pseudo-grunge be damned!). I just knew for a fact the song I was gonna pick was from their first two albums and it ended up with this sort of morning-after-feeling song. Ignore the music video, it was the only version of the song I could find on youtube.
8. “Light Up the Night” – The Protomen. I get it. They have their own narrative about philosophy in Mega Man and shit, I know this song is about Dr. Light and Joe planning to blow up the Tower, but I largely don’t care. I find that concept compelling enough to continue through the album and the music real genre fun, but when it comes to this – My Favorite Song by the Group – it is the fact that this song (alongside a couple of others from their second studio album Act II: The Father of Death) is one of the best songs I can think of that kick-up that whole… look, I spent more time in Miami than I like to admit, especially summers. There’s a real electricity in it at the latest of times that feels like it’ll getting overpowered and blow in everyone’s face. And it has a heartbeat and a rhythm that matches this city that I don’t think even the most cocaine-fuelled synthesizer 80s retro band could touch on without feeling artificial (even Dance with the Dead and Perturbator, other 80s retro projects I like). This song feels human. And loud. And explosive. It is the climax to this playlist for a reason.
9. “Everlong” – Foo Fighters. For anybody who knows me personally, this addition surprises a grand total of none of you. I looked up to Dave Grohl as my Musical Messiah back in high school and I still love him, even now that everybody else does too. And if you don’t know me, I like to think this still is obvious. Just look at the lyrics: “Breathe out so I can breathe you in”, “If anything could ever be this real forever”, “You gotta promise not to stop if I say when”. All to a dreamy colorful soundscape underneath it with fast-paced yet relaxingly steady new wave drumwork by Grohl himself. Come on, son. Come on. You know this belongs in every summer playlist. Most Foo Fighters songs honestly do in my opinion, but this most of all.
10. “Up All Night” – Best Coast. The grand finale. The sunset song. The one that gives a sort of tired and dazed melancholy as the season comes to a complete close, trying to hinder back to a time that is already a ghost before you even know it died – both lyrically (what with the song being all “You and me, we’d never last”-y) and musically (as a sort of sluggish zombie version of the idea of 50s dream melody). Yep, this is the song that will play as the ocean waves drag me into the tide.
Songs I Considered but Didn’t Make the Cut
- The Beach Boys were too damn obvious a pick to use and I decided to dump ’em. It was hard as fuck, but I’m sure it’d be harder to pick between “Good Vibrations”, “Surf’s Up”, “God Only Knows”, “Sloop John B”, “Surfer Girl”, “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”, or “Surfer Girl”.
- “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” – Weezer. Another one of my favorite songs of all time, too damn debbie downer for this, though.
- “Protect Ya Neck” – Wu-Tang Clan. I wouldn’t have known what to say except I love kung fu songs and Wu-Tang Clan.
- “To Catch a Thief” – Lovage. Maybe I just wanted to avoid Mike Patton too much.
- “Retrovertigo” – Mr. Bungle. See above.
- “Born to Die” – Lana Del Ray. The more I listen to the shit that comes out of her mouth in interviews, the more her music leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I hate to admit that because it rarely happens for most artists, but I dunno, it changes my perspective on her musical themes, like Dave Mustaine or Frank Miller.
- “Us” – Regina Spektor. Because like I was gonna pretend (500) Days of Summer wasn’t the reason I thought of this.
- “Kick, Push” – Lupe Fiasco. Skateboarding odyssey, except I don’t board to begin with. But I still thought about it.
- “Spy in the House of the Night” – Blue Oyster Cult. Because it felt like I was forcing one of my favorite bands into the playlist and FUCK NO I’M NOT PUTTING “BURNIN’ FOR YOU”.
- “On the Line” – Blood Orange. Blood Orange is starting to give me more of a wintery vibe. Wait until December maybe to catch him in a playlist from me.
- “Tragic” – Bozzio Levin Stevens. My love for Terry Bozzio and Tony Levin aside (and prog music in general), I hate flaunting it like “huehuehue”. Prog fans did that to me.
- “Cold Fire”/”Limelight” – Rush. Picking between a song that is perhaps one of their weakest but certainly my idea of a lonely summer night and one of my favorite guitar solos that speaks to that loneliness wordlessly and beautifully. It was a tough decision and I decided to just leave Rush out.
- “Anything” – Dramarama. Because Freddy Krueger popped into my mind more.
- “Say Hello 2 Heaven” – Temple of the Dog. I love listening to any Chris Cornell in Summer and I think this is (even if it ain’t Cornell’s best performance on the album) the best song on that album. But it also has a very strict meaning about saying goodbye to a deceased loved one and I decided not to push it in.
- “Swimming Pools (Drank)” – Kendrick Lamar. Too damn dark and I didn’t want to give the idea that I thought it was a banger. I mean, it IS a banger, but it’s anti-banger.