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  • Song Context

Best Summer Songs of All Time - Top 5

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

1. ‘(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay’ by Otis Redding

Recorded a few days before Redding’s death in a plane crash. Listen to the lapping waves, and Redding’s whistling and singing about being by the sea.

2. ‘Summer in the City’ by the Lovin’ Spoonful

The song portrays a city split into sweltering days (‘All around, people looking half dead / Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head’) and cool, exhilarating nights of randy tomcats on the prowl. Real street sounds (car horns, a jackhammer).

3. ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers

Listen to this tune from the legendary soul man Bill Withers and you’ll agree that it is a lovely day. Withers holds a single note for 18 seconds, which is the longest note in a U.S. Top 40 single in history.

4. ‘School’s Out for Summer’ by Alice Cooper

Back in 1972, Cooper and his band perfectly captured the rowdy spirit of the last day of school – which Cooper rated as second only to Christmas as the most important day on the calendar.

5. ‘In the Summertime’ by Mungo Jerry

A one-hit-wonder from 1970 gives the summer vibe.

But because of one lines in the song – ‘have a drink, have a drive / go out and see what you can find,’ the tune also surfaced in a U.K. public service campaign against drunk driving.

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