Surf’s Up: Scott’s seven summer send-offs

(Photo: courtesy of the artist)

Nothing really strikes panic in the hearts of kids like the dwindling days of August. School assignments and grades inexorably inch closer while the last few days of summer melt away like a forgotten Fudgsicle.

Though it’s been years since I’ve been in a classroom, I still get a reflexive feeling of dread as this time of year rolls around, fretting that somehow my summer has slipped through my grasp.

The nice weather and pool parties have to end sometime, but to ease into Autumn I’ve created a playlist of seven of my favorite songs to listen to while reflecting on a summer coming to a close:

The Flaming Lips - “Do You Realize??”

The Sunday before the first day of tenth grade, a few friends and I took a mini road trip to Horsetooth Reservoir near my hometown of Fort Collins. Any talk of Monday’s classes was met with a quick and aggressive hush so to fill the void we listened to various albums, including "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" by The Flaming Lips.

As we watched the sun set, we rolled down our windows and cranked this song, trying desperately not to think about the grind of high school awaiting us in mere hours. “It’s hard to make the good things last,” indeed.

Jackie Mittoo - “Summer Breeze”

Seals and Crofts’ gentle, folk-tinged pop single from 1972 translates well to reggae, as proven by Jackie Mittoo’s groovy yet wistful update.

YACHT - “Shangri-La”

This album came out in late June of 2011 so I’ll always associate it with summer. The closing song, "Shangri-La" is a plaintive meditation preceded by an album’s worth of partying.

The Beach Boys - “Surf’s Up”

When asked about the lyrical content of “Surf’s Up,” Van Dyke Parks allegedly once quipped, “I haven’t a clue.” While the song revels in its cryptic wordplay, a few of the lines like “columnated ruins domino,” “the dim last toasting,” and “adieu or die” hint at some sort of finality or closure, however mysterious it may be.

Jens Lekman - “Jens Lekman’s Farewell Song to Rocky Dennis”

“Early September and the kids start school / leaves are floating in a swimming pool” begins Jens Lekman’s bittersweet tribute to Roy “Rocky” Dennis, a boy afflicted with a severe bone disorder and the inspiration for the 1985 film Mask.

Galaxie 500 - “Summertime”

Shoegaze trio Galaxie 500 formed at Harvard University in 1987 and perfected slow, spacey neo-psychedelia over the course of three studio albums. A title like “Summertime” not only serves as a killer soundtrack for a final lazy afternoon but also accurately reflects their shimmering sound.

Scott McKenzie - “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”

Written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, this single served as a backdrop to the San Franciscan “Summer of Love” in 1967 and was also used to promote the Monterey Pop Festival in mid-June. Nearly 50 years later, it still serves as a loving and poignant tribute to a legendary summer gone by.