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12 Summer songs from the 1960s and 1970s

Ian Chaddock

BY Ian Chaddock

24th Aug 2023 Culture

12 Summer songs from the 1960s and 1970s
With the end of summer in sight, we look back with a smile, both at the season and the 1960s and 1970s, for classic songs about summer

1. The Lovin' Spoonful “Summer in the City” (1966)

The perfect song for depicting the hot and sticky feeling of living in a big city during the summer months, the American folk rockers sing about their love of evenings at this time of year. The respite from the heat and noise of the day that comes with night-time, allowing for dancing and dating.
"The perfect song for depicting the hot and sticky feeling of living in a big city during the summer months"
Summery lyric: 
All around, people looking half-dead,
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match-head

2. The Beatles, "Good Day Sunshine" (1966) 

Influenced by the Lovin’ Spoonful’s song “Daydream”, the vaudevillian feel of this song from the fab four’s seventh studio album Revolver evokes the upbeat and enjoyable feeling of being in love on a sunny summer’s day.
Summery lyric:
I feel good, in a special way,
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day

3. Mungo Jerry, "In the Summertime" (1970) 

Topping the charts all over the world, Middlesex rockers Mungo Jerry’s debut single introduced the band with a bang and became the infectious soundtrack of the summer in 1970. It was also one of the fastest-selling singles ever (over six million in the first six months) and went on to sell 30 million copies.
"It became the infectious soundtrack of the summer in 1970, selling over six million copies in the first six months"
Summery lyric: 
In the summertime, when the weather is high,
You can stretch right up and touch the sky

4. Ramones, "California Sun" (1977) 

Originally recorded by American R&B singer Joe Jones in 1960, this cover by the New York punk legends is a slice of infectious, fuzzy good times that will get you singing and dancing like it’s still the peak of punk rock’s first wave.
Summery lyric: 
We’re out there having fun,
In the warm California sun

5. Cliff Richard and the Shadows, "Summer Holiday" (1963) 

Another chart topper, this care-free, catchy single from Sir Cliff also appeared in the musical film of the same name (featuring Cliff) and became synonymous with British summertime. It’s a popular sing-along for holidaymakers to this day.
Summery lyric: 
We’re all going on a summer holiday,
No more working for a week or two

6. Bob Marley, "Sun is Shining" (1978) 

A shimmering, sun-soaked tune from the king of reggae and his band, Bob Marley originally released this song on his 1971 album Soul Revolution Part II with his band the Wailers. However, this later version is even more laid-back and blissful.
Summery lyric: 
Sun is shining, the weather is sweet,
Make you want to move your dancing feet

7. The Beach Boys, "Surfin' USA" (1963)

The Beach Boys are probably the band most commonly associated with summer, with multiple songs that could have made this list and several albums with “summer” in their titles. This single is the surf pop/rock title track from their second album and captures the excitement of a youthful summer spent surfing!
Summery lyric: 
We’ll all be gone for the summer,
We’re on safari to stay

8. John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, "Summer Nights" (1978) 

The best-known version of this catchy song about young summer love was performed by the actors John Travolta and Olivia Newton John for 1978’s cinematic adaptation of the musical Grease. A massive worldwide success in the summer that year, it’s still a firm summer favourite today.
Summery lyric: 
Summer loving, had me a blast,
Summer loving, happened so fast

9. The Kinks, "Sunny Afternoon" (1966)

Ray Davies and co. topped the UK Singles Chart in July 1966 with their song about a disgraced aristocrat falling out with his girlfriend but enjoying lazing in his huge house with a cold beer in the summertime. The song has a music hall feel and Davies’ iconic, drawled vocals, reflecting the pleasant, slow pace of summer.
"The song has a music hall feel and Ray Davies’ iconic, drawled vocals, reflecting the slow pace of summer"
Summery lyric: 
Lazing on a sunny afternoon, 
In the summertime 

10. The Drifters, "Under the Boardwalk" (1964)

The R&B/soul vocal group legends released this classic in late August 1964, filled with descriptive lyrics of the heat of summer, and the heat of a couple getting frisky hidden from people under the boardwalk, down by the sea.
Summery lyric: 
Out of the sun, (Under the boardwalk), 
We'll be having some fun 

11. Seals and Crofts, "Summer Breeze" (1972) 

American pop/folk rock duo Seals and Crofts hit the nail on the head with this single that reflects on just how good a gentle breeze feels in the summertime. It was covered by the Isley Brothers just two years later, with a more soulful sound, reaching no.16 in the UK Singles Chart.
Summery lyric: 
Summer breeze makes me feel fine, 
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

12. Kool & the Gang, "Summer Madness" (1974) 

One of the most sampled R&B songs of all time (DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s “Summertime”, most famously), this instrumental tune somehow still evokes some of the strongest feelings of the hazy heat and long days of summer. No summery lyrics, just plenty of sun-soaked, sexy grooves.
What are your favourite memories of summer songs from the 1960s and 1970s? Email us at readersletters@readersdigest.co.uk
Banner photo: The Beach Boys, 1963 in a Billboard advertisement. Author unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons / The Beach Boys "Surfin' USA" single cover (Capitol)
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