We were barely in high school that first summer my parents packed up the car and drove three hours to Saugatuck. They had a friend who owned a VERY rustic cabin on the Kalamazoo River and my sister and I entered it with excitement and some dread. Excitement because we had a whole week ahead of us to spend roaming the town, eating ice cream, going to the beach and tanning on the dock. Dread because the place was loaded with spiders…
Since the cabin was tucked under trees it was always a good 20 degrees cooler inside. Everything from the plaid pillows on the plaid couch to the sheets on the twin beds was always a little damp. The best and driest room in the all wood-paneled, two bedroom place was the screened-in porch facing the Kalamazoo River. It was supported by stilts hovering high over the trees to catch the sun. The wall of windows gave a sparkling view of the water, the bank of thick trees across the river and the wooden dock far below.
We’d wake to find my parents there reading the paper and drinking coffee. My sister and I would join them, eat a bowl of cereal, pack a lunch and throw on our swimsuits. We were on a mission to hit the beach early and try to escape those spiders for awhile.
Being the youngest of five, this was the one week she and I had each year to escape that sibling hierarchy. As soon as we left the cabin, we were free of rules and pretended to be older than we were.
It took us across the river to the lake side and we’d ride our bikes a half mile to Oval beach where the older kids hung out.
We could hear the radios even before hitting the parking lot.
AM tunes like “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” (Leo Sayer), “More Than a Feeling” (Boston), “You Are The Woman” (Firefall) and “Best of My Love” (The Emotions) filled the beach. The Emotions song was the best on this list and one I still play today, but the song that takes me right back to those summers was weirdly not one I’m proud of and far from my favorite. Like the others, we were forced to listen to it over and over until it became ingrained in our brains like a noisy etching we could never turn off. The radio DJs of summer loved Thin Lizzy and played “The Boys Are Back in Town” until we could see “Dino’s Bar and Grill” in our sleep.
The lyrics were bad, the song was bad, but the memories of those summers in Saugatuck are some of my favorites. Everything we did comes flooding back as soon as I hear those cymbals and the lead singer saying “It won’t be long till summer comes.” I become instantly happy and care free.
I can’t explain how or why that happens, but I can tell you, every time I hear it, I’m back on Oval Beach, covered in oil, pretending to be 18 even though I could barely pass for twelve.
The thing about it is we all have one; that one song that brings us joy regardless of whether we liked it or not. A tune that pulls us right back to summer and melts our stress away. Even in the dead of winter, that song can make us feel as if we’re sitting in sunshine, taking life as it comes.
“Researchers at Stanford University (press release 2006) have said that ‘listening to music seems to be able to change brain functioning to the same extent as medication.’ They noted that music is something that almost anybody can access and makes it an easy stress reduction tool.”
So I decided to conduct my own research and asked a few friends, family and co-workers about their summer songs. Here’s a list of their standouts:
Bill: “Summer Nights” from Grease
Why? “The lyrics and um…Olivia Newton John” who just happens to bear a strong resemblance to his beautiful wife… talk about influence…
Dave: “My Sharona” by The Knack
Why? “I remember playing badminton in my neighbor’s yard with that song blasting over and over.” Gotta say, volume definitely makes a bigger impression…
John: “Thunder Island” by Jay Ferguson and “Running on Empty” by Jackson Brown
Why? “They just sound like driving in a convertible with the top down kind of songs.” Both Dave and John agree these songs make them think of being outside their high school blaring them from a radio. Again, loud music playing with little on your to-do list… pure joy!
Jean: “Windy” by The Association and “Light My Fire” by The Doors.
Why? “I think of swimming in Rappa’s pool, Jones Beach on Long Island and the smell of Coppertone before it had any SPF.” I’m telling you, that smell was the essence of summer. I can only describe it as a sweet coconut oil we used before sautéing ourselves in a frying pan.
Russ: “Rock Lobster” by the B52s
Why? “It makes me think of guarding at Oak Street beach, summer days and carefree fun in general.” Did I mention nothing much on the to-do list??
Why? “It played everywhere making it a theme song of my early 20’s when I was traveling with friends, site seeing and dancing the summer nights away.” Ah the joy of staying up after midnight and waking late in the day.
Jane: “Soul Meets Body” by Death Cab for Cutie and “Doing Time” by Lana Del Rey
Why? “It instantly makes me feel free. I can practically feel the summer breeze blowing and warm sunshine on my skin every time I hear it.”
I didn’t just ask people over 30 about their favorite summer song. I asked my own daughters and a friend in her early twenties but none of them had that quick, knee jerk response. They all said they had to think about it and that got me thinking.
Maybe they couldn’t come up with a title because they never fell victim to the songs on the radio. They’ve always had a choice of what they listen to and can easily stream any tune they want whenever they want to hear it. The rest of us had to call the radio station to request our favorites that never got played. If they did, it was hours later and chances are we were asleep by the time the station got to it.
In a way, I feel kind of sorry for them. I mean, having those songs that bring me back to those carefree summers are a kind of therapy. I’m instantly transported back to Saugatuck and later, to my college years when summer meant waiting tables on a beach in Florida.
Even though they were played against our will with no choice but to hear them over and over again, they’re the songs that bring us joy today. We all have more than one but that one that brings the strongest memories seems to stay with us forever.
I never became a fan of Thin Lizzy but “The Boys Are Back in Town” will always put me back in Saugatuck. I’m suddenly on that sunny beach or sitting on that sun porch reading Glamour Magazine and wishing I were older.
Little did I know that the one song I detested most would be the one song that brings me so many joyful, summer memories… except for those spiders… all of those spiders…
Listen to our Summer Song Playlist and tell ME your favorite song of summer and what you think of when you hear it…
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
END-OF-SUMMER SALE ON SALE!
Enjoy an additional 30% OFF SALE
when you spend $75+ in SALE styles on
TO HEAR FROM YOU
What songs do you listen to all summer long?
Please share your own thoughts with ME – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS® EARTH garment this week!