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Songs About Summer

A summer heat wave has hit the American northeast this month.

A summer heat wave has hit the American northeast this month.

Welcome to This Is America from VOA Learning English.

Here in the northern part of the world, we are in what some call the “dog days of summer”—in other words, the hottest weeks of the year.

To ease the heat, Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith bring you some songs about summertime.

If you ask most Americans, they would say their favorite season of the year is summer. The weather is warm. They do not have to wear heavy clothes to keep warm.

Young people do not have to go to school. They can do many activities outside, like playing sports and swimming at the beach or the pool. They like the sunshine during the day and the warm summer nights.

People have written and recorded hundreds of songs about summer. These are some of our favorites.

One of the most famous songs about summer is from George Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess." He wrote the music in 1935.

The opera takes place in the southern United States. It opens with these words: "Summertime and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high."

Leontyne Price sings the song.

Here is Billy Stewart's version of the same song.

The 1950s and 60s produced many songs about teenagers enjoying their summer vacation from school. The songs are about having fun, swimming in the ocean, driving in cars.

This one is "Summertime, Summertime" by the Jamies.

It is summer almost all year long in California. And it was summer all the time for the Beach Boys. They sang about their favorite activities, like riding the ocean waves on surfboards. Here is one Beach Boy song, "All Summer Long."

However, for some teenagers, summer vacation was not all fun and games. Some of them had to work to earn money.

Eddie Cochran sang about this in "Summertime Blues."

Many other bands and artists later recorded this song, including the British rock band, the Who.

The Lovin' Spoonful was a band that did not love summers in the city because of the heat. They sang: "Hot town, summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty."

And: "All around, people looking half-dead, walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head."

They liked the nighttime better when they could dance and have more fun.

"Summer in the City" was released in the summer of 1966 and was one of the Lovin' Spoonful's greatest hits.

Even though it was hot, Sly and the Family Stone still found ways to have fun in the summertime. This song is about the happiness that the season promises, including going to a "county fair in the country sun."

In the 1990s, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince produced this hip-hop song called "Summertime." It is about being with friends and having a good time.

We leave you with a song from the movie version of the musical "Grease." It is about two teenagers who meet during their summer vacation and fall in love.

Back at school in the autumn, they tell their friends all about it.

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sing "Summer Nights."

Our program was written by Shelley Gollust and produced by Caty Weaver. Shirley Griffith and Steve Ember were your announcers. You can also find transcripts and audio archives of our programs on Join us again next week for This Is America with VOA Learning English.