10 Great Rock and Pop Summer Songs

Share This:

summer_ends-399510If you have a favorite summer memory, chances are it plays in your head to the soundtrack of a summer song. There are plenty of great ones – “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “Summer in the City” – and, of course, much of the Beach Boys catalog.

In 2015 The New York Times wrote about summer-themed songs like these, as well as that special class of songs that were hits during the summer.

Any way you look at it, summer is pretty well covered musically. With packed beaches, convertibles, and barbecues, music provides a soundtrack to some great summer memories. And some songs capture that wistful sense that special times are ending, the warmth is fading and a chill is coming on.

With summer upon us, here are some classic rock songs that capture that moment when seasons change. (Since we’ve limited this list to just 10, you’ll notice we’ve left out many favorites that have the word “summer” in the title such as “Summertime Blues” and “Summer of ’69.” There are hundreds to choose from and we went with these…

10) “Summer Nights” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

Danny and Sandy share their slightly different points of view and how they enjoyed each other’s company, in Grease.

9) “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama

“My friends are away and I’m on my own…” Well, you can pass the time away with Sara, Siobhan and Keren. They look like they’d be fun to hang out with…

If you’re a new Best Classic Bands reader, we’d be grateful if you would Like our Facebook page and/or bookmark our Home page.

8) “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young

An ode to longtime love and how it sweetens the aging process: there’s still plenty to celebrate, even though it won’t last forever.

7) “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful

We love the #1 smash from 1966 even though it always makes us want to find a place with a great air conditioner.

6) “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone

Released as the band were making a splash at Woodstock, this song was one of the biggest hits of 1969.

  • Sign up for the Best Classic Bands Newsletter


5) “See You in September” by The Happenings

Though many groups recorded this song from 1959, this is our favorite version, which reached #3 in 1966.

4) “Indian Summer” by Al Stewart

Summer’s over and the earth’s cracked and waiting for the rain.

3) “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley

The ultimate nostalgic post-summer, post-romance song.

2) “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart

It’s late September and he really should be back at school. Yep, when it’s over it’s over.

1) “All Summer Long” by The Beach Boys

A summing up of a great summer romance. How could anything go wrong?

Laura Huntt Foti

Laura often says, “Music is my madeleine,” a Proustian reference meaning that when she hears certain classic songs she can completely transport mentally to another time and place. She has used her deep connection to music in her career, including three memorable years at Billboard as queen of music video and three years at RCA Records she prefers not to discuss.

More recently, after a move from New York to Los Angeles and a long stint in interactive multimedia, Laura moved into internet/social media marketing for music and other clients. In 2012 she wrote The Cusp of Everything, a novel incorporating a full soundtrack. In 2014 she wrote and performed a one-woman show about online dating, All the Wrong Men. Currently she is working on a new show, My Life as a Shiksa, and workshopping her play, Worldly Possessions.
Laura Huntt Foti
Share This:

7 Comments so far

Jump into a conversation
  1. Guy Smiley
    #1 Guy Smiley 4 September, 2016, 14:08

    Thanks for including “Famous Last Words”! Underrated track from a very underrated (even though it debuted at #1) Billy Joel album.

    Perfect end of summer song, but also a perfect capper (apparently) for Billy’s career as an active songwriter/recording artist too.

    He said there would “be words some other day,” but so far it hasn’t happened. What I wouldn’t do for him to get inspired again, and maybe go into the studio with a Rick Rubin or T-Bone Burnett.

    Reply this comment
    • Jack
      Jack 22 August, 2017, 01:32

      We can only hope! It’s hard to believe that Billy’s creativity just all of a sudden dried up. I’m not sure what happened. I thought at first it might be an aversion to touring, but we know that’s not it, he still performs live all the time. In addition, there have definitely been bands who stopped touring and concentrated on the studio, i.e. The Beatles. All I know for sure is I’d really like an album of new material!

      Reply this comment
    • Billy K.
      Billy K. 22 August, 2017, 01:51

      As a writer myself, I understand “writer’s block”, and bouncing back from it……but I find it odd that Joel has gone this long, after all this time, not come out with a new song.

      Reply this comment
  2. recordhound
    #2 recordhound 2 September, 2017, 04:34

    Only one song I can think of to add to this list, and it’s timely. Save Your Heart For Me – Gary Lewis & The Playboys (nice tribute for his dad’s passing).

    Reply this comment
  3. Jim
    #3 Jim 2 September, 2017, 10:32

    Possibly “Sealed With A Kiss” …… if you are old enough to remember it.

    Reply this comment
  4. Guy Smiley
    #4 Guy Smiley 23 June, 2018, 19:45

    Are these comments from a different list, originally? Almost two years ago, up above, I made mention of “Famous Last Words” by Billy Joel, but it’s not on the list here??

    Were these comments originally from an “End of Summer” song list? That would make more sense, especially since “Maggie May” takes place in September!

    Anyhow, I certainly do not in any way consider Grease or Bananarama to be “Classic Rock” (or rock, period) here’s a few altenatives to those choices:

    “You Bring the Summer” from The Monkees’ excellent 2016 Good Times! album. Also, “The Door Into Summer” from their (also excellent) classic 1967 album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. Same album also has “Pleasant Valley Sunday” on it.

    “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” by Bruce Springsteen.

    “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” from the Grateful Dead’s first album. Also, two more quintessential summer tunes from the Dead that are better known: “Sugar Magnolia” and “U.S. Blues”

    “Summer” by War

    “Summer, Highland Falls” by Billy Joel

    “Summertime” the Gershwin standard. Many artists have done this, but I’ll go with Janis Joplin’s awesome version.

    “Sunny Afternoon” by The Kinks

    “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha & The Vandellas can’t be topped, but Van Halen and the Grateful Dead get honorable mentions (while Bowie and Jagger get a DIShonorable mention).

    “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crow

    “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

    So many, many more… Certainly more Beach Boys, and Jimmy Buffett too, But no list of classic summer songs is complete without:

    “Summertime Blues” by Eddie Cochran. Or The Who. Or Blue Cheer. Take your pick.

    Reply this comment
  5. Lutz
    #5 Lutz 19 August, 2018, 13:34

    What about the Eagles song “Waiting in the weeds”? It even starts with the line “It’s coming on, the end of August”

    Reply this comment

Your data will be safe!Your e-mail address will not be published. Also other data will not be shared with third person.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.