Summer arrives today at 1:11 p.m., give or take an hour, depending on which scientific authority you want to believe. The U.S. Navy and other scientific bodies actually differ as to the definition of what constitutes the solstice, and their different tables can vary by as much as an hour or more.
You should go online and look for yourself. Just don't go to Wikipedia, because it'll tell you that the solstice was invented by the Druids so they could party, and that WWE founder Vince McMahon was killed by the comedian Sinbad, whom Wikipedia had originally declared dead, but then brought back to life.
Actually, those of us in Tucson know that summer has been here for five or six weeks already and will linger for a month or so after the autumnal equinox, which happens on Sept. 23 this year. Ah, but the days will start getting shorter (that doesn't actually happen until next week). At least they're not getting longer (although they can keep lengthening until June 24 or so, depending on the year).
Tomorrow, the sun will rise a minute later, at 5:18 a.m. But it will also set a minute later, at 7:34 p.m. It will continue to set at 7:34 until July 8. Can you imagine what it would be like if we were on that ridiculous daylight savings time? The sun wouldn't set until after 8:30 p.m., and it wouldn't start getting dark until 9. That's not a pretty thought.
Anyway, it's June 21, so what better time to go over a completely subjective list of the best summer songs of all time? I wrote down a long list, then decided that unless I wanted it to be a cover story, I would have to narrow it down to songs that actually have the word "summer" in them.
That eliminates some great ones, like John Fogerty's "Centerfield," Chicago's "Saturday in the Park," the Beach Boys' "California Girls" (plus all the surfing songs) and "The Drifters' "Up on the Roof."
Here's my Top 10, in reverse order:
10. "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts. Did you know that Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts were members of The Champs, the band famous for the hit song "Tequila!"? That's almost as weird as the fact that Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were, for a time, members of Jay and the Americans of "Come a Little Bit Closer" and "Cara Mia" fame.
Seals and Crofts, at the height of their fame, once performed a concert at my alma mater high school to help buy new uniforms for the marching band. Pretty cool.
9. "Summertime" by Janis Joplin. At the height of her screaming, tortured best, this song still gives me chills, which are nice in the summer.
8. "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince. Not to be confused with the song of the same name at No. 9, this is a light, bouncy tune that showed the pop promise of rap before the knuckleheads took control. When I first saw this video, I swear I knew that one guy had star power and would go a long way. Alas, I thought it was DJ Jazzy Jeff.
7. "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra. Whether you're 12 or 92 or anything in between, if you don't appreciate Sinatra, you're deficient.
6. "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams. I know it's all smutty and stuff, and Bryan Adams would've been like 10 years old in 1969, but this song features the promise, passion and recklessness that rock 'n' roll is all about.
5. "Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful. The song's OK, although growing up in Los Angeles, I didn't understand the big deal. The weather's always the same in Southern California, so summer in the city's about the same as February in the city. What's unique is that the band's name is reportedly a reference to the average amount of semen a man ejaculates. (British-band equivalent: 10 cc.) How'd you like to be in a band, the name of which you wouldn't even want to tell your mother? "Hi Mom, I'm in The Butthole Surfers."
4. "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran. One of the great, angst-ridden songs of the early rock 'n' roll days. Sneering, angry, self-pitying--in other words, a teenager. Blue Cheer did an early heavy-metal rendition of it on the Easy Rider soundtrack.
3. "Hot Fun in the Summertime" by Sly and the Family Stone. Still one of my favorite groups. Not their best song, but it's probably on a CD with "Stand" and "I Want to Take You Higher," so it's all good.
2. "Summer Nights" on the Grease soundtrack. Just TRY not to sing along with it when you hear it on the radio. Or when you read its name in print.
1. "Summer" by War. Growing up, all of my Hispanic friends loved this mostly black band, but my black friends could take 'em or leave 'em. How quaint the lyrics: "Rappin' on the CB radio in the van, and give a big 10-4 to the truckin' man."
If that had been remade into a hip-hop song, it would have gone, "Rippin' off the CB radio from some guy's van, And using it to hit a trucker over the head because the Simi Valley jury didn't reach the right verdict."