Its always fun to listen to music that fits the moment whether youre listening to I Love L.A. during a Southern California road trip, Centerfield en route to a baseball game or Here Comes the Sun during a break from the fog. And with summer upon us, this is a perfect time to crank up the summer-themed tuneage.
Songs written with summer in mind typically invoke images of sun, fun and seasonal love. And they beg to be played at campgrounds, pools and cookouts.
Rather than just list our favorite summer songs, weve also noted what activities these songs might best be paired with in San Luis Obispo County.
CALIFORNIA GURLS | KATY PERRY (2010)
In this infectiously fun tune, featuring guest vocals by rapper Snoop Dogg, the colorfully coiffed pop star conjures up images of sun-kissed college girls in Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top. Her descriptions of the fine, fresh, fierce women of the Golden State are enough to inspire a trip to the sandy paradise of Shell Beach, below, a popular hangout among Cal Poly and Cuesta College students. Once you party with us, Perry promises, youll be fallin in love.
SURF CITY | JAN & DEAN (1963)
Those folks in Huntington Beach and Santa Cruz can bicker all they want about which gets to be called Surf City; weve got our own Pismo Beach. So this would be the perfect tune to crank up before a surf session at Pismo Pier. Written by Beach Boy Brian Wilson, he offered it to friends Jan Berry and Dean Torrence (they initially asked for Surfin USA, but Wilson kept that for his own band). Like Beach Boys tunes Surfer Girl, Surfin Safari and scores of others, this vocal harmony highlight offered fantasies of endless summers to even the most landlocked sun lovers.
SCHOOLS OUT | ALICE COOPER (1972)
Chances are, you were humming this hard-rock hit under your breath as Junior marched down the aisle at his graduation ceremony. Schools Out, featured in the movies Dazed and Confused, Rock N Roll High School and Scream, has become a popular song heralding the beginning of summer vacation. Whatever youre celebrating the end of high school, college or graduate school Alice Coopers words have never been truer: Schools out for summer. Schools out forever.
SUMMER IN THE CITY | THE LOVIN SPOONFUL(1966)
OK, sure, this songs urban-centric lyrics paired with actual city traffic and construction noises might not typify life in quiet little San Luis Obispo County. But if you were to take a road trip to Los Angeles on a blistering hot day, you might crank this up as you veer toward the downtown area. While Spoonful songs normally channeled a laid-back, love-not-war vibe, this one with its moody bass coda featured a much grittier side of the band.
SATURDAY IN THE PARK | CHICAGO (1972)
Of all the songs that mention the Fourth of July, this one is the most descriptive, with references to people playing guitar, selling ice cream and singing Italian songs. Were not sure how many people sing Italian songs in Paso Robles, but this would be a perfect tune for the annual July 4 fireworks show at Barney Schwartz Park. Lead vocalist Robert Lamm wrote the song after a visit to a New York City park on Independence Day. Other July 4 candidates include Darlington County by Bruce Springsteen, Born on the Bayou by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Fourth of July by Dave Alvin.
SUMMER NIGHTS | JOHN TRAVOLTA AND OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN (1978)
What happens when a squeaky-clean teenybopper falls in love with a rebellious greaser? The answer is Grease, a cheerfully cheesy movie musical set during the era of hot rods, malt shops and poodle skirts. Bad boy Danny and good girl Sandy describe their sweet summer fling in Summer Nights, a chart-topping hit that has become a popular karaoke duet. Make your own summer memories at the Sunset Drive-In movie theater in San Luis Obispo or the California Mid-State Fair, July 18-29 in Paso Robles.
BOYS OF SUMMER | DON HENLEY (1984)
Since boys of summer often refers to baseball players as in The Boys of Summer, Roger Kahns book about the Brooklyn Dodgers why not knock this one out at a San Luis Obispo Blues game this summer? Henleys song is not about baseball or his then-former band the Eagles, as some speculated. Rather, it was about a man approaching middle age and looking back at his youth.
UNDER THE BOARDWALK | THE DRIFTERS (1964)
There are several great boardwalks in the county, but none you can make love under, as the character in this song aspires to do. So the best we can offer is that you put this tune on as you snuggle on a blanket with your baby under the Cayucos Pier. (But please get a room before it gets too hot and heavy.) The day before this song was scheduled to be recorded, lead singer Rudy Lewis unexpectedly died. So former lead singer Johnny Moore stepped in and recorded this summer classic.
DANCING IN THE STREET | MARTHA AND THE VANDELLAS (1964)
Is Dancing in the Street an innocent party song or a civil rights anthem? Although lead singer Martha Reeves claimed the former, some have cited the Motown classic as a call for social change in locations as diverse as Baltimore, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. We recommend that you heed the songs melodious message by organizing a fun flash mob at the San Luis Obispo Farmers Market. After all, Summers here and the time is right for dancin in the street.
SUMMER OF 69 | BRYAN ADAMS (1985)
Canadian rocker Bryan Adams was 9 years old in 1969. Of course, that didnt stop him and fellow songwriter Jim Vallance from waxing nostalgic about his young and restless past buying his first real six-string, holding hands with his sweetheart, and so on in this upbeat ode to summers past. Listeners can relive the summer of 69 this weekend while cruising down Dolliver Street in a cherry Dodge Charger at The Classic at Pismo Beach Car Show. (Folks north of the Cuesta Grade can look forward to Atascaderos Hot El Camino Cruise Nite, above, on Aug. 17.)