According to the astronomical calendar, summer started on June 21. But according to the cultural calendar, it began on Memorial Day, and runs through Labor Day -- 14 weeks of picnics, barbecues, beach parties, gardening and outdoor sports, all accompanied by a blaring radio, or stereo ... or iPod.
That puts us, right now, in the middle of July, smack dab in the middle of summer. And so I went in search of the very best summer songs ... Baby Boomer style, of course. For those of you with some time on your hands, here are the links; plus, my two favorites down at the bottom. Did I miss one?
# 14. "In the Summertime" by Jerry Mungo -- a funky beat from a British singer, circa 1970.
# 13. "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran -- a top hit from way back in 1958.
# 12. "Summer Nights" with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta -- from the 1978 movie Grease.
# 11. "Summer in the City" by the Lovin' Spoonful -- I had a friend in high school who loved this song, played it all the time. Annoyed the hell out of me. But it's still a classic.
#10. "Surf City" by Jan and Dean -- co-written by Jan Berry and Brian Wilson, topped the charts in 1963.
# 9. "Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" from Nat King Cole -- how can you not sing along with this goofy song from 1963.
# 8. "Summer Wind" from Frank Sinatra -- with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, it became a classic for the Chairman of the Board.
# 7. "Under the Boardwalk" from The Drifters -- in 1964, "on a blanket with my baby's where I'll be..."
# 6. "Somebody to Love" by Jefferson Airplane, a touchstone for the 1967 Summer of Love.
# 5. "California Girls" by the Beach Boys -- top hit from their 1965 album Summer Days.
# 4. "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams -- a hit from 1985, but an ode of summers of yore.
# 3. "School's Out" by Alice Cooper -- the 1972 rant captures the sheer thrill of getting out of school for the summer, a feeling none of us will ever forget, no matter how old we are. This song also energized the popular 1998 Cameron Diaz comedy There's Something About Mary.
# 2. "Stand By Me," from Ben E. King -- the Number 1 song of 1961, and theme song of the 1986 movie about four young friends searching for a dead body in the summer of 1959, starring Will Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell and Kiefer Sutherland as the "bad boy" older kid.
# 1. "Summertime" from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess -- It's been recorded by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and other greats, but my favorite version was rasped out by Janis Joplin, circa 1969.