A group of my friends and I are currently in the middle of a CD exchange, in which we make mixed CDs for one another and mail them out to our respective locations all over the country. It’s a fun idea and makes checking the mail an exciting event. This month’s CD theme is summer songs and as I finished up my mix last night, I pondered what makes a great summer tune. Sure, there are the givens, written about summer, with summer in the title:
But what about the songs that don’t necessarily say summer every other word? The songs that just give you that summer feeling or remind you of a particular summer memory? I have too many to list here, most of them from the ’90s as that was the peak of my adolescence (the time when the greatest summer memories are made), but I do have a couple that stand out that I’d like to share here.
For the first selection, I’m taking you back to the summer of 1992. This was a time when my bangs looked kinda like this:
And I was rocking brightly colored Guess? jean shorts with slouchy socks and Keds. It was a simpler time, a time when as a rising 8th grader, I spent my summer days at the pool with my friends, and my summer nights at a local ballpark, watching Pony League games. Pony League was the level of youth baseball in between Little League and high school/Legion ball. So boys around my age (7th, 8th and 9th graders) played in this particular league. My BFFs and I all either had boyfriends or crushes on the team, and we’d sit in the stands, giggling, cheering and doing pretty much everything we could to distract the boys from their games. My crush was a boy named James, who was a year ahead of me in school and completely oblivious to my existence. He was a really quiet guy, tall and skinny with a shock of messy brown hair and big puppy dog eyes. Needless to say, I had it bad. And no other song better summed up my unrequited longing for this boy than Jodeci’s “Come and Talk to Me”:
Fast-forward to 1995 for my next selection. This was the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school. I had my driver’s license, my first job and a sense of independence I’d never felt before. That feeling planted a seed of loathing in my heart for my boring, backward, small town; a seed that only grew when I made my first big trip (first time flying!) to California for a Key Club convention.
Yes, I know Key Club is kinda dorky, but my friends and I knew that beyond the dorky facade were these amazing things called conventions, where hordes of horny teenagers would spend weeks and weekends in out-of-town hotels, sneaking out to meet each other for torrid late-night trysts.
That year, the convention was in Anaheim, and after a short jaunt to San Franciso, my group landed at LAX (the same summer the Unibomber was threatening to blow planes up there) and made our way to the Anaheim Hilton. The theme of the convention was “We All Shine On,” and the song they played ad nauseum was John Lennon’s “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)”:
(check out blindfolded Yoko over there, knitting)
To this day, that song reminds me of California, new-found adolescent freedom and the boy who’d later become my senior prom date and second biggest high school crush.
My final selection takes us back to the year 1997. I’d just graduated from high school and was about to leave town to go to college. For a big chunk of that year, I’d carried on a fling with a boy we’ll call Jones, whom I’d had a crush on the whole school year before. When he finally told me he liked me too, our relationship of phone calls, notes and heartbreak (Jonesy was a player of the worst kind and ended up sleeping with one of my friends behind my back since I was one of those goody-goodies who didn’t put out in high school) began. That summer, we kind of drifted apart and I was sick with anguish, but one day, a week before I was to leave for college, he came into the drug store I worked at to pick up a prescription for his dad. He left a note on my car when he left and we spent the next five nights on the phone for hours on end. As I huddled under a blanket in our living room, speaking in hushed tones as not to wake my parents, I put the Love Jones Soundtrack on and it softly played this song, which summed up my feelings for my own Love Jones:
Those are some of my faves, but I wanna know, what are your favorite summer jamz? Discuss in the comments!