Summer Mix Tape for In-Betweeners

The summer before my senior year in high school, a disreputable boy with long hair asked if he could put in a cassette tape as we drove God only knows where in my grey Chevy Cavalier. Out of my speakers came The Rolling Stones, who I associated with the music of my parents and therefore didn’t like. But these songs weren’t the mid-80s, feathered and puffy-shirted “Dancing in the Streets” version of Rolling Stones I thought I knew (You’re right, that was Mick’s fault.) These songs were interesting, lyrical, as dirty and soulful as they were heartbreaking and orchestral. I asked him if I could borrow this tape.

That stifling hot summer, driving around the long, flat streets of Tulsa, Okla., flittering away time with my lovely, disreputable friends when I wasn’t working a 40-hour-a-week temp job, became defined by that tape. “Play With Fire,” “Paint It Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Wild Horses,” all became the soundtrack for my last childhood summer, the summer before I turned 18. “Hot Rocks” the guy had written on the cassette label, further proving that this was the perfect summer tape. “Wow,” I thought, “He’s put together the best Rolling Stones mix ever.”

"Hot Rocks: 1964-1971" was the actual name of the album, a compilation and The Rolling Stone’s biggest selling album. I didn’t know this until years later. If you can’t laugh at your 18-year-old self, then you’re doing it wrong.

As we squeeze out the last bits of fun of this last month of summer, I figured it would be a good time to put together a Summer Mix Tape for In-Betweeners to help us all remember that time in our lives when we stayed out late, slept in long and never wore sunscreen. Songs don’t hit me as powerfully as they once did, but they can still transport. A great song can make the sun shine a little bit brighter, can make me smile a little wider and can remind me of that kid in that car that heard that mind-blowing album for the first time.

Summer Mix Tape for In-Betweeners

Click cassette below to play

WARNING: There is an inherent lustiness to summer, with all the heat and exposed skin, and an inherent heat to summer songs. Songs with a (*) may not be kid appropriate.

  1. The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man
  2. *Kings of Leon - Four Kicks (Heirs to The Rolling Stones, this entire album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, their second, is a a fantastic summer listen, an ode to young boys hanging out of trucks with their hormones flapping around them.)
  3. TLC - No Scrubs (A great Nineties ode to the girls who refused to respond to the boys hanging out of trucks with their hormones hanging around them.)
  4. Nikka Costa - Everybody Got Their Something (Favorite line: “There’s a time for every star.”)

  5. Liz Phair - Polyester Bride (Song about sitting at a bar jawing with the bartender. What could be more summery than that?)

  6. Rufus & Chaka Khan - Tell Me Something Good

  7. Jarabe De Palo - Bonito (And what’s the good thing you want to be told? That everything is beautiful, bonito.)

  8. Justin Timberlake - Senorita (The next grouping of songs sound like they're performed at some sweaty club or house party.)

  9. Beastie Boys - Live at P.J.'s

  10. *Pink - God is a DJ (Favorite line: “God wants you to shake your ass.” I believe that.)

  11. *Prince - Housequake (This album, Sign of the Times, is Prince’s masterpiece and another one that I have on rotation all summer.)

  12. Sly & the Family Stone - Dance to the Music ("Get on up, and dance to the music.")

  13. The Goat Rodeo Sessions - Here and Heaven (Haunting, yet rousing song from awesome collaboration of Yo-Yo Ma and some great bluegrass musicians.)

  14. Sam Cooke - Summertime (I know, this one just seems too obvious. But, you see, I was introduced to it in the summertime. By this boy. He would do push ups on concrete blocks. Ahh…summertime.)

  15. Sam Sparro - Black and Gold

  16. Morphine - Super Sex (I don’t know if it was summertime when a cute guy - who's now my husband - gave me this song on a mixtape. But I know it was hot.)

  17. Stevie Wonder - I Was Made to Love Her (Stevie personifies summer to me.)

  18. Elton John - Amoreena

  19. Everclear - Santa Monica

  20. Japandroids - Young Hearts Spark Fire ("We used to dream now we worry about dying. I don’t want to worry about dying. I just want to worry about those sunshine girls.”)

  21. The Rolling Stones - Mother's Little Helper (I couldn't resist. Let's all sing it together: "What a drag it is getting old.")

What do you like to listen to in the summer? What song or album brings youthful summer memories rushing back? Please tell me about your favorite songs in the comment section below or on my Facebook page.