Midsummer Playlist

midsummer playlist

From rock n roll, new wave, country to 60s soul, here are 10 songs that have made my soundtrack of the summer. Click here to listen on spotify!

Baby I Need Your Lovin’ - The Four Tops

Four Tops, 1965

The realization that love hurts wasn’t invented in 1975 with Nazareth's hit track, but a decade earlier with The Four Tops “Baby I Need Your Lovin.’” I’ve always been drawn to songs that sound happy and sad simultaneously. The Four Tops weren’t too proud to admit there’s no shame in love;

Some say it's a sign of weakness
For a man to beg
Then weak I'd rather be
If it means having you to keep

“Baby I Need Your Lovin’” is a smooth R&B track that plays easily, but whose declarations of a shameless desire has tinged rock’n’roll from Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” to Marvin Gaye's “Sexual Healing.” I hear this song somehow wherever I go. Life's just like that. 

Come See About Me - Diana Ross and the Supremes

Where Did Our Love Go, 1964

What I love about this song is the refrain, “Come see about me.” If I come to see you, that means I’ll come in for a little while, exchange some stories and share a coffee, then I’m out the door. But if I come to see about you, that means I came to stay as long as I possibly could, and I’ll probably come around again. The group harmony in this song is hypnotic. Diana Ross and The Supremes are the queens of Motown for a reason and tight tracks like “Come See About Me” reassure their royalty. 

Train in Vain - The Clash

London Calling, 1979

I’ve heard great things about Joe Strummer, and while I’ve been making an effort to branch out my music taste, why not begin with The Clash? So far I haven't regretted that decision. While listening to London Calling, “Train in Vain” stuck out to me. The song begins with almost a disco-tinged beat, then swiftly kicks into a punk rock anthem. I felt as if it were a retort to the Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” as Mick Jones proclaims;

You didn't stand by me
No, not at all
You didn't stand by me
No way

Yeah. We’ve all been there. Especially at this point in our lives, we’ve all felt lost and confused with just how much of an obligation we actually owe others. Don’t ask me, I’m still trying to figure it out. 

Still Water (Love) - The Four Tops

Still Waters Run Deep, 1970

If the moon could transmit a song to the earth, I’m pretty sure it would sound like “Still Water.” I’ve spent a couple of nights this summer driving around with this one serenading the streets around me. With the finger snaps and tight harmonies, the beginning of “Still Water” exudes a retro doo-wop vibe. The song offers a cinematic kind of love; it’s so easy to get lost in. You don’t have to be tuned to R&B to enjoy this song. Like most of the Four Tops songs, their songs have a timeless quality and have aged well.

So young and in love - Bruce Springsteen

Tracks, 1999

The song begins with Roy Bittan’s demanding piano followed by Clarence Clemons’ blaring saxophone that offers some release. Every piece of the E Street Band is utilized, including Springsteen’s soulful Van Morrison-esque vocals. This song is the big noise that is the e street band. The endless Saturday night. The around-the-clock happy. Springsteen and The E Street band have this power that where ever in the world you are, at least for 3 minutes are 49 seconds, you’re in a dive bar with all your friends on the new jersey boardwalk. 

Baby Be Mine - Michael Jackson

Thriller, 1982

My mom gave me her Thriller CD, and before that, I had never listened to the album in full. The radio still plays all the singles, so I wasn’t a stranger to half of the album's tracks. But then I heard this gem, and I couldn’t help but wonder why this one isn’t on the radio! The song is groovy but not too cool to beg. (I guess that’s been a theme in the music I’ve been listening to this summer!) The heady emotions could have been replicated out of a 60s R&B record, but Jackson captured them perfectly in this funky 80s track. 

I can’t wait - nu shooz

Poolside, 1986

“I Can’t Wait” has been the go-to track for bopping in the car with my sisters. We’ve been playing it at the pool or just sitting around at the kitchen table. It’s light, unique and most importantly, fun. It’s a timeless track and the perfect song to roll your windows down and turn the volume up. Summer shouldn’t only be about heartbreak.

Got to give it up - Marvin Gaye

Live at the London Palladium, 1977

This summer is going to be groovy from here on out, whether you like it or not. This is another poolside favorite of mine. The song opens with scattered vocal chatter and kicks off with a funky drum beat. Gaye sings in a falsetto which adds to the airy vibe of the song. “Got To Give It Up” is about a wallflower who comes into the club nervous, but soon the music consumes him and he starts to release his inhibitions. That’s the power of dance. 

Take Me Home, Country Roads - John Denver

Poems, Prayers & Promises, 1971

I’ve heard this song all my life but I never really listened to it until this summer. I guess I can finally understand what it means to be homesick. As John Denver recites vivid depictions of the American landscape, you can almost hear the ghost of his youth. It’s humbling how great his respect for the land is. Towards the end of the song, we hear how regretful he is to have been separated from the place he loves;

I hear her voice
In the mornin'
hour she calls me
The radio reminds me of my home far away
And drivin' down the road I get a feelin'
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

When he finally returns home, he finds himself growing like a breeze, both literally in age and spirituality. There are not many songs with this much heart in them, and I think we can learn a lot from them. 

Love my way - the psychedelic furs

Forever Now, 1982

This has been another song my sisters and I have shared our love for. We love this song so much that we bought tickets to see The Psychedelic furs in August. I’ve got lots of studying to do about the band, but for now, I’m going to focus on this song. To be honest, I had ignored the song until I heard it on the Luca Guadagnino film, Call Me by Your Name (2018). My sisters and I have been obsessed with the song ever since. Calling it a bittersweet pop song with an enigmatic rhythm is an understatement, but I have a feeling I’ll be enjoying this song for summers to come. 

Tell me, what have you been listening to this summer?

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