10 Sunny Songs for When Life Feels Shady
Got the summertime blues? Is your sunny summer songs playlist ready? Eddie Cochran may be right about there being no cure for the summertime blues (yes, it’s a real thing!), but there is a remedy. It’s hard to keep a good song down, and a good summer song is practically impossible to ignore. No matter how you may feel, summer favorites are always capable of elevating your mood.
Can you think of any memory from any summer that isn’t somehow related to songs like “Forget You,” “Shut Up and Dance,” ‘Sugar,” and “Despacito?”
Just as the stifling heat and warm weather blues are getting ready to settle in (brace yourself for the days to start getting shorter come June 22… wait, didn’t summer just begin?), don’t despair. You may love what’s in the Popular Music Top 40, but you may also like to mix your summer sunny-ness with some bittersweet nostalgia.
Below is a timeless, surefire summer songs 2018 playlist, worthy of being blared at summer cookouts, blasting while you drive around and sing with the windows down, and kicking through the speakers while you kick back at the pool. Sunny and sure to make you smile.
- “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles (1969)
A great song inspired by hating your summer job. When Beatles manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, the band members had to handle more of their own paperwork, accounting, and business management. And one Beatle in particular (George Harrison) hated it. Harrison wrote the song after a long afternoon of business meetings while playing one of Eric Clapton’s guitars, in Clapton’s garden. The inspiration came from England’s long, dreary, and seemingly endless winters. “No piece of music can make you feel better than this,” said Tom Petty, one of Harrison’s good friends. “It’s such an optimistic song, with that little bit of ache in it that makes the happiness mean even more.”
- “Dancing Days” by Led Zeppelin (1973)
Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant is all about summer celebrations of getting down and cutting loose on long, hot evenings: “Dancing days are here again, as the summer evenings grow,” Plant enthusiastically wails. Led Zep recorded “Dancing Days” at Mick Jagger’s mansion, and following the session, the band was so stoked they went outside, blared it through the studio speakers, and danced to it in a carefree way that only summer can inspire. Just like you should do.
- “American Girl” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976)
Only Tom Petty could take an urban legend from the 1960s about a University of Florida co-ed taking hallucinogens for the first time, thinking she could fly, and then tumbling face down on the concrete below her window (some versions of the tale maintain that she leaped from as high as the 13th floor). In a day of limitless possibilities, such an event represented the seeming end of innocence experienced by an entire generation later in the 70s. For his first album, Petty wrote an upbeat, engaging, and relevant song around this haunting sense of disillusion. “…It was the start of writing about people who are longing for something else in life, something better than they have,” said Petty. As morose as that may sound, as summer road trip songs go, there aren’t many that compare.
- “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” by Pavement (1992)
It’s too early to be thinking about summer winding down in a couple of months, too early to think about loading up the car after vacation and heading back to your day-to-day grind. Pavement, in this surprisingly upbeat tune, captures all the melancholy and anxiety of the end of a summer romance. “In an abandoned houseboat, I’ll wait there, I’ll be waiting forever…You’re my summer babe.” Too much fun NOT to enjoy in the sun.
- “Staring at the Sun” by U2, Live Acoustic Version (1997)
Though the album version fell short of expectations, the uplifting, summery live acoustic version of “Staring at the Sun” by Bono and the Edge is nothing other than charming. “I think it nails a certain mood, where you actually don’t want to know the truth because lies are more comforting,” said Bono about the tune. Fitting, since the first time the entire world-renowned band attempted to play this song live, they were all playing at different tempos, and it fell flat on its face in front of the Las Vegas crowd. A little bit of schadenfreude is good for the soul, no matter what time of year it is.
- “Drop it like it’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg ft. Pharrell (2004)
No one does cool in the summer than Snoop Dogg. Drop it. Park it. Pop it. Straight from the ultimate timeless summertime dance party playlist, this 2004 hit featuring Pharrell dares you to NOT bump to it whenever it starts to play. “Two!” “one!” “yep, three!” S-N double O-P, D-O double G…”
- “Walkin’ on the Sun” by Smash Mouth (1997)
This bouncy song about the 1992 Los Angeles Riots was written by Smashmouth’s guitarist, Greg Camp, in a tongue-in-cheek spirit of “can’t we all get along?” Camp wanted to capture how he felt about that time in U.S. history like things were spiralling out of control, and “like we might as well be walking around a planet on fire.”
- “Steal My Sunshine” by Len (1999)
Nothing screams late 90s like any number of the lighthearted hip-hop-alt-pop-influenced musical jaunts from that era (e.g., Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, Beck). This trippy, catchy, bouncy summer song is all about baking in the sun atop your favorite park bench, sipping on frozen slushies, and wondering where your summer love all went wrong: “My mind was thugged, all laced and bugged, all twisted round and beat.” Though it’s about a bit of a downer, this tune still makes you feel great.
- “Heavy Metal Drummer” by Wilco (2002)
Remember going down to the river in the summer and listening to heavy metal cover bands with your special friend? Most of us don’t either. But Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy came up with the perfect song about rocking out in the summer on the river landing, “I miss the innocence I’ve known…playing KISS covers, beautiful and stoned.” Can such a fun summer song feel so sweetly nostalgic and achy at the same time? Hear for yourself.
- “A Little More Summertime” by Jason Aldean (2016)
Sadly, summer always comes to an end. But not without memories of all those unforgettable moments: long, sultry days on the beach, followed by warm, humid nights at the local carnival. Enough to make you wish you could stop time and savor it just a little bit longer. This summer song will make you feel warm, happy, and wistful, all at the same time. And you wouldn’t trade in those memories for anything.
Music really can make you feel better. What do you think about our playlist? Did we miss any of your favorites? We’d love to hear what songs keep you going in the summer!
Are you struggling with summertime blues? Not to worry, it is very common. If you or someone close to you needs to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.
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