"[M]usic has lost the personality of human beings and musicians. It's got so shiny that it's as if there's a surface of Formica over it. And it's something that doesn't let you in."
-- Edge, 2003
U2 Lists: Top 8 U2 Songs for Summer
May 21, 2014
[Ed. note: This is the 58th in a "U2 Lists" series, where @U2 staffers pick a topic and share their personal rankings on something U2-related.]
Here in the United States, Memorial Day is right around the corner, school is out for lots of folks around the country, and the chilling Polar Vortex is (mercifully) but a memory. That means summer is upon us. In honor of flip-flop tan lines and family road trips, here’s a list of eight U2 songs that get me in the mood for summertime activities or simply remind me of summers past.
Aside from the direct link to summer in the song’s title, this track reminds me of my childhood. Hot and muggy summers were the norm when I was growing up in Houston, Texas, and one of my favorite ways to beat the heat and humidity was to play in the rain. This wasn’t always possible, however, since the Texas Gulf Coast gets pretty strong thunderstorms that include some wind and a fair amount of lightning. So, the next best thing was to create my own rain. I played with the garden hose or jumped through the lawn sprinklers. It was the safe version of summer rain.
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me”
The summer movie season is my favorite. I love big-budget action flicks on the silver screen, movies my wife and I call “shlockbusters.” This song was featured on the Batman Forever soundtrack from 1995, and every time I hear it, I’m instantly transported back to that wonderful time. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and I got my driver’s license that season. Add to that another movie of my favorite comic book character and it’s easy to understand why I was so excited for that summer. If only the movie featured more U2 and less neon Batmobile …
I love my job as a college professor and take it very seriously. Therefore, for nine months out of the calendar year, it’s essentially pedal-to-the-metal for 10 hours a day, five to six days a week (sometimes even all seven, unfortunately). I’m a young-looking professor who often gets confused for a student. To further differentiate myself from the freshmen and sophomores I teach, I wear a tie just about every day. Some days I go further, donning a blazer or even a three-piece suit, depending on how fancy I feel that morning. Summer is my time to relax and loosen up a bit: “I’m in the mind to let go of control.” Shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops are now my uniform. I can go four or five days without shaving (crazy, right?) and not feel bad about it. I try not to worry about minute details like precisely matching everything I wear. It’s my time to mentally relax and recharge my batteries after a grueling school year.
“Indian Summer Sky”
One of the ways I decompress is by going for a drive. I don’t consider myself a gearhead necessarily, but I do appreciate fine automobiles and enjoy the science and art of driving a car. I’m still learning the nuances of a manual transmission, so a perfectly smooth shift still puts a huge smile on my face. I get great satisfaction from taking a corner at just the right speed in the right gear, hitting the apex and applying the throttle at just the right time. And, for my money, few things feel better than driving fast with the windows down and the stereo volume way up. “Indian Summer Sky” -- with its energetic bass line, quick tempo and syncopated background vocals -- is a great addition to any summer driving playlist.
“Last Night On Earth”
Although this song isn’t necessarily directly related to summer or a summertime mood, it will always remind of my college part-time job, which I started in the summer of 1997. I worked for a men’s clothing store chain and “Last Night On Earth” was on the soundtrack for more than two months. I must have heard the song hundreds of times that summer, so whenever I hear it now, I have to combat the impulse to ask, “What size can I help you find?”
“Fast Cars” (Jacknife Lee Mix)
I like the original version of this song, especially its infectious beat and the rapid-fire lyrics. The Jacknife Lee Mix, however, gives it the extra depth that makes it a great song for summer. It’s a wonderful song to blast while cruising toward the sunset. Contrary to what Bono sings at the end of the chorus, fast cars do me plenty of good.
“Lady With The Spinning Head [UV1]”
I’m continually fascinated by music’s ability to instantly trigger emotions or desires. This track immediately puts me in a happy, “go-getting” mood. When I hear this song, I feel like moving. It’s on one of my running playlists, it’s on a weight-lifting playlist, and (surprise, surprise) it’s on one of my many driving playlists. The song is playing as I type this and I am fighting the urge to go to the gym right this second.
Hearing this song encourages me to take advantage of where I live: “It’s a beautiful day / Don’t let it get away.” Southwest Florida is a beautiful place to be all year, but particularly in the summer. Yes, it’s hot, but the beach is 15 minutes from our apartment. There’s an abundance of wildlife to observe, nature preserves to explore and relatively little traffic compared with the winter months. Add sunrises that routinely look like this and every day of summer truly is a beautiful day.
(c) @U2/Endrinal, 2014.