Songs for the First Day of Summer

At LouFest 2011. - Todd Owyoung
Todd Owyoung
At LouFest 2011.

Ah, summer in St. Louis. A time for tank tops, sunscreen, cold beers sweating in koozies, frying at music festivals, hooking up with randoms, slapping mosquitoes, listening to a member of the Buck family narrate and -- if you're lucky -- not dodging too many stray bullets.

Today is the first official day of summer, so we thought we'd celebrate one of the best music-listening seasons by sharing some must-rock summer jams. There are tons of options to choose from: It's a season for blossoming, for growth, for partying, for enduring and hopefully, for a little fun break in your busy life.

Yes, there is a song out there for every feeling, situation and time, but so many good ones center around this hot, sexy middle season. There's a summer song for you if you're feeling romantical. There's a summer song for you if you're feeling nostalgic. There's a summer song for you if you're finally finished with school. There's a summer song for you if you're cheesy. There's even a summer song for you if you suck.

My favorite summer song is the Breeders' "Saints" off of the classic '90s album Last Splash. It's a dead obvious choice, with lyrics about crowds, fairs, hot metal and the repeating line "summer is ready when you are." In fact, the whole Last Splash album just sounds like summer, with its surf leanings ("Flipside"), hit sing-a-longs ("Cannonball") and songs custom built to listen to while cruising with your hand out the window and your palm open to the breeze ("Drivin' on 9").

Our hometown hero, Nelly, has given us not one, but two instant summer jams. First came "Country Grammar." Summer in the Lou cannot start without giving this mega-hit a spin, especially with all the nods to familiar scenes and locations in the video. Then, a couple of years after "Country Grammar," our golden boy gave us "Hot in Herre," which is both a club hit and a phrase that is repeated for months 'round these parts, given the hairstyle-ruining humidity.

Any list of timeless summer songs should include a song by the Beach Boys, whose occasionally mercurial front man Brian Wilson turns 70 today. Almost any early song by the Boys works, really. The band's whole image was designed around those guys being the ultimate groovy summer ambassadors, with their songwriting centered around California, surfing, cool cars and tan girls in bikinis. Of course, any Beach Boys fan can tell you that the talent and focus of the band goes deeper than their sandals and Hawaiian shirts, and the members eventually became some of the most revered musicians in pop music history. Still, let's take a minute to honor one of the best songs ever written, the twinkling opener to Pet Sounds.

What are some of your favorite summer songs? What song do you queue up to listen to with the windows down? Do you have a set soundtrack to nights drinking on your porch, walking your dog around Forest Park, driving down to the Cardinals game or getting (un)dressed to go sweat it out on the dance floor? Let's share. Post your favorites in the comments.

About The Author

Jaime Lees

Jaime Lees is the digital content editor for the Riverfront Times.
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