A Soundtrack to Summer - A Summertime Song Playlist

Updated on June 22, 2018
Nikki Knack profile image

I'm a working wife and Mom to the best little boys in the entire universe. My interests include family life, gardening, cooking, and music.

"Summertime and the livin's easy." There's something about this time of year. The mood just seems lighter. The sunshine and outdoors, bare feet, sunglasses, cold beer, good friends, road trips all make summer special. Certain songs always seem to come to mind – like a soundtrack of my life from summers past. In no particular order at all, here are some of my favorite summer playlist songs.

1. "Star Spangled Banner"- Jimi Hendrix

What about this doesn't say summer? Cue the fireworks.

2. "Fortunate Son" - Creedence Clearwater Revival

Lyrics Pick:

"Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they're red, white and blue"

3. "Saturday in the Park" - Chicago

Lyrics Pick:

"People talking, really smiling
A man playing guitar
And singing for us all"

4. "Oye Como Va" - Santana

Just makes you want to shake your hips, barefoot, drink in hand. Just me? Ah, oh well.

5. "Black Betty" - Ram Jam

Honestly, I have no idea what the meaning of this song even is! Love to play the beat on my steering wheel for sure though!

6. "Can't You See" - The Marshall Tucker Band

Lyrics Pick:

"I gonna buy me a ticket now, as far as I can
Ain't a-never comin' back
Ride me a Southbound
All the way to Georgia now
Till the train run out of track"

7. "Like a Rolling Stone" - Bob Dylan

Lyrics Pick:

"When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose"

8. "American Pie" - Don McLean

As Don McLean takes you through a series of events, you can't help but sing along to the famous hook:

"Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die"

9. "Hey Hey What Can I Do" - Led Zeppelin

Lyrics Pick:

"In the evening when the sun is sinkin' low
Everybody's with the one they love"

10. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" - The Rolling Stones

Kind of a gibberish song, but I sure love kicking back to Mick Taylor's jam at the end.

11. "Midnight Rider" - Greg Allman

I can't help but envision an outlaw biker driving down a country road on a warm summer evening, full moon, nowhere to go.

12."All Right Now" - Free

Such a free-spirited love song.


13. "Sunshine of Your Love" - Cream

Lyrics Pick:

"I've been waiting so long
To be where I'm going
In the sunshine of your love"

14. "Summer Rain" - Johnny Rivers

Lyrics Pick:

"Summer rain taps at my window
West wind soft as a sweet dream
My love, warm as the sunshine"

15. "No Rain" - Blind Melon

Far from my favorite Blind Melon song(s), but maybe one of their most popular.

The upbeat melody and melancholy lyrics make me think just enjoying the simple things in life.


16. "Casey Jones" - The Grateful Dead

Another one you just can't help but sing along to.

17. "In the Summertime" - Mungo Jerry

Makes my head bop back and forth.

Lyrics Pick:

"In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky"

18. "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo" - Rick Derringer

Lyrics Pick:

"The skeeters start buzzing 'bout this time o' year
I'm goin' round back, she said she'd meet me there
We were rollin' in the grass that grows behind the barn
When my ears started ringin' like a fire alarm"

19. "Life's Been Good" - Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh humorously sums up the rock star life.

20. "People Are Strange" - The Doors

Always makes me think of one of my all time favorite movies, "The Lost Boys". The scene where Michael and Sam are driving into Santa Carla with their Mother and pass the boardwalk. Even though a cover version by Echo & The Bunnymen is used in the movie, the scene always pops into my head when I hear this song.

21. "We're An American Band" - Grand Funk Railroad

Lyrics Pick:

"We'll help you party it down"

Thanks, we needed that!

22. "Me and Bobby McGee" - Janis Joplin

Oh man, this one brings me right back to my first beater car at 16. Crusin' along, playing this on a mixtape, and singing my heart out.

Lyrics Pick:

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose"

23. "Rockin' in the Free World" - Neil Young

Neil Young is seemingly celebrating and criticizing the "free world". Still one of those songs that just comes to mind when we celebrate our freedoms on the 4th of July. That freedom comes with a price.

24. "Mr. Bojangles" - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Covered by so many greats, including Neil Diamond, John Denver, Bob Dylan and Sammy Davis Jr. And yet, another one to sing along to.

25. "Freebird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd

Just that guitar solo at the end does it for me. "Won't you fly, free bird, yeah".

26. "Free Ride" - The Edgar Winter Group

The album cover for "They Only Come Out at Night" always weirded me out a bit, haha. This song always makes me think of the movie "Dazed and Confused", where the jocks and the misfits are cruisin' making their way to the keg party in the field.

27. "Hotel California" - The Eagles

Lyrics Pick:

"On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night."

28. "White Rabbit" - Jefferson Airplane

The acid trip aside, I think Grace Slick is also trying to describe curiosity through the influence of Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland". As a fan of both Jefferson Airplane and "Alice in Wonderland", this one is a favorite.

29. "All Along the Watchtower" - Jimi Hendrix

This electric guitar heavy cover of Bob Dylan's original will never get old.

30. "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" - Pink Floyd

Lyrics Pick:

"Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun"

31. "The Boys of Summer" - Don Henley

Lyrics Pick:

"I can see you,
Your brown skin shining in the sun.
You got that hair slicked back,
And those Wayfarers on, baby."

32. "Scarlet Begonias" - Sublime

The Grateful Dead's original is great, but for some reason, I connect more with Sublime's cover.

33. "Gypsy" - Fleetwood Mac

Lyrics Pick:

"To the gypsy
That remains
She faces freedom
With a little fear
Well I have no fear
I have only love"

34. "Wild Flowers" - Tom Petty

Lyrics Pick:

"You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free"

35. "Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard" - Paul Simon

In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine, Paul Simon was asked what it was that the Momma saw? I mean really, we need to know to completely understand what is going on here, right? Well, he said that he had no idea. So, I guess this one is up for our interpretion.

36. "Rockaway Beach" - Ramones

Lyrics Pick:

"The sun is out and I want some
It's not hard, not far to reach, we can hitch a ride to Rockaway Beach"

37. "Summer In the City" - Lovin' Spoonful

Lyrics Pick:

"Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty"

38. "Born in the USA" - Bruce Springsteen

Another song of irony, similar to that of Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World". Though most just know the hook:
"Born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A."

39. "American Woman" - The Guess Who

I think this song could be interpreted a couple different ways: political or sex appeal.

Also covered by Lenny Kravitz, I just love the riff.


40. "Wipeout" - Surfaris

If this isn't the epitome of a summer song, I don't know what is.

41. "Summer of '69" - Bryan Adams

Lyrics Pick:

"Oh, when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I'd always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life"

42. "Stranglehold" - Ted Nugent

The perfect road jam.

Lyrics Pick:

"The road I cruise is a bitch now baby"

43. "Sunny Afternoon" - The Kinks

"All I've got's this sunny afternoon". And, ya know? That's all ya need.

44. "Take the Money and Run" - The Steve Miller Band

If Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue are still running today, I'd say they've had a damn good run.

45. "Suddenly Last Summer" - The Motels

What exactly did happen last summer? We may never know, but I love the beat and Martha Davis's voice nonetheless.

46. "Here Comes the Sun" - The Beatles

How could I leave this one out?

"Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right"


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