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What’s your favorite summer song?

Take a dip into this mix of recommendations — from Alice Cooper to HAIM and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

By Erick Trickey

What song most reminds you of summer? To create the playlist below, we posed that question to several Experience sources, as well as our colleagues in the Experience office. The tunes they shared evoke summer around the globe, from India’s monsoon season to Australia’s January summer to the beaches of California. And the songs are as varied in genre as they are in geography: There’s an Italian hip-hop track about a sunny vacation, a reggae invocation of Psalm 23, plenty of classic rock, and, throughout, the promise of warm weather as freedom.

Let this playlist accompany your summer reading by the poolside, on a road trip, or anywhere you’re having a summer experience.

Heather Littlefield, a Northeastern University linguistics professor, is featured in our story about adapting African languages for scientific subjects. Her recommendation is “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper. “There is nothing like hearing the kids (and teachers!) singing “school’s out for summer” on the last day of school! Then you know summer has really arrived!”

We wrote about Anthony De Ritis, a composer and Northeastern University music professor, in our story about innovation in opera. His summer song choice is “California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & the Papas: “I still remember when I received my first internship in Santa Monica, right out of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. When I got word that I received that internship, I blasted “California Dreamin’” for hours on end at full volume in celebration.”

Randall Hughes, a Northeastern University professor of marine and environmental sciences, recommends “In the Summertime” by Thirsty Merc: “It’s the opening song for the Australian TV series Bondi Rescue, which my family and I watched regularly together while we were on sabbatical in Sydney just prior to the pandemic. So it’s associated with the beach and travel and fun and summertime in January!”

Boston-based street artist Cedric Douglas, who goes by the moniker Vise1, offered insight in our story about the battles over murals in Mexico city. He tells us: “Anything reggae makes me think of summer, but if there’s one song to kick back to, it’s Dennis Brown’s ‘Here I Come.'”

Bob de Schutter, a Northeastern University professor of game design, shared his thoughts in a story about a moving interactive exhibit featuring a Holocaust survivor. His choice: “’When the Summer Dies’ by deadmau5 and Lights. It makes for a solid soundtrack for some volleyball at [South Boston’s] Carson Beach, or a road trip down a sunnier coastline.”

Michael Running Wolf, a clinical instructor of computer science at Northeastern University’s Vancouver campus, shared the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “By the Way.”  “When I was younger and in California, this song was all over the radio. It was when I realized I had an opinion on music, and more importantly a career in industry.”

Hanumant Singh, director of Northeastern University’s Field Robotics Lab, was featured in a story about counting penguins as a way to measure the effects of climate change. He tells us: “I come from the land of eternal summer, India. Summer is HOT, and usually we are actually looking forward to the monsoon that helps break the summer heat. The classic monsoon song is “Aaj Mera Jee Karda (Kawa Kawa)” by Sukhwinder Singh, from the movie Monsoon Wedding. Parts of it are derived from folk lyrics that go back much farther than the movie.”

And here are some picks from the Experience staff:

Joanna Weiss, editor-in-chief: “’How Bizarre’ by the New Zealand band OMC followed me around one summer in the 1990s, from New Orleans (where it played endlessly on the radio) to Quebec City (where we stumbled on the band playing it live). Now, anytime I hear it, I think of summer road trips.”

Schuyler Velasco, deputy editor: “I will always associate HAIM’s “Summer Girl” with the summer my daughter was born. The song feels like a hot day with a nice breeze — perfectly capturing the hazy, happy, half-conscious state I was in through those first months of her life.”

Michaela Quigley, partnerships and engagement editor: “One of my college roommates used to blast “Sunshine” by Powers every time the sun came out — a rarity in Syracuse, New York — so this song now reminds me of warm days spent lounging on a porch with my best friends.”

Erick Trickey, deputy editor: “’Moment in the Sun’ by Sunflower Bean came out in September 2020, just as summer’s break from COVID isolation ended. I listened to it throughout the cold winter of 2021, waiting for the liberation that vaccination and the next summer would bring.”

Chloe Prock, design associate: “’Sì può darsi’ by Frah Quintale came out in April 2021 while I was working abroad in Italy, just as it started feeling like summer there. I associate it with long afternoons basking in the sunny park by my apartment and losing track of time. The lyrics describe the first day of vacation after a year locked inside, and celebrate being able to go out into the world with abandon.”

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Erick Trickey is Experience's Deputy Editor. He has written for Politico Magazine, The Washington Post, Boston magazine, and more.


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