Songs of Summer: Bring Back the Memories of a Lifetime

By Bob Scarborough

What makes a “summer song” one that stays with us for all time?

Web sites and radio stations poll readers and listeners for their favorite songs of summer. But why is a song of summer your favorite? What makes a song stay in your memory and come rushing forward with sounds, sights and even smells of the event when the song was heard so many years ago?

High school graduation, a first kiss, a close dance in the moonlight, a family reunion, a crackling fire with s’mores roasting on the ends of sticks and chocolate dripping into the fire, are marked in our memories by the times themselves, as well as the music playing in the background.

Some tunes, simply by the lyrics, are “summer songs.”

Each one of us will come up with different songs and for different reasons. I grew up in Myrtle Beach in the summer. Every summer, music rolled out of the juke boxes at the Pavilion and spilled onto the beach, caught on the wind and was carried across the sand dunes blocks away. The music of the Drifters and the Coasters, Clyde McPhatter, and Joe Pope and the Tams, to name a few, were heard across the beach.

But music of summer was not all about beach music. In every generation, musicians compose songs that reflect their passion for a time of their lives, influenced by their experiences. Sometimes we listen and connect, remembering a time in our own lives that the music represents.

Here’s what’s on my summer playlist:

• Robin Ward – Wonderful Summer

• Don Henley – The Boys of Summer

• Eddie Cochran – Summertime Blues

• The Danleers – One Summer Night

• The Drifters – Under the Boardwalk

• The Happenings – See You In September

• The Beach Boys – All Summer Long

• Billy Stewart – Summertime

• Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood – Summer Wine

• Percy Faith – Theme from “A Summer Place”

This is an abbreviated list to keep the word count of this story down! I wanted to leave enough space to list some of the reasons for my selections of the songs that take me back. The theme from “A Summer Place” was played as the sign-off song for WTGR in Myrtle Beach in the early 70s. I listened every day and worked there years later. “See You In September” reminds me of friends who I said goodbye to at the end of school each year, knowing I would see them in the fall. “Wonderful Summer” brings a memory of my aunt as she reminded us kids at the beginning of each day to “have a wonderful summer.” The song itself came into play years later and my work as a disc jockey allowed me to dedicate this special song to her on a regular basis.

How about your summer songs? Send them to me at and I’ll play them for you this summer on WTOB radio 980 AM  and let the memories rush back!

Bob Scarborough is a DJ with the oldies station WTOB 980 AM and 96.3 FM in Winston-Salem.


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