musicthe sound of your morning

the sound of your morning: beach tunes

by Grace Bonney

Photo by Elgarbo Art

Growing up in a beach town left me with a lot of good and bad traits. I have an appreciation for the outdoors (good), a keen awareness of the difference between marsh and saltwater smells (in between?), an unabashed love of flip flops (bad in the winter) and I will forever think of grimy boys with surfboards when I see the word “grommet” used in design (embarrassing). That and the fact that I’ve never, ever stop using the word “dude” on a daily basis pretty much make me a beach girl through and through. So, inspired by my background and this weekend’s amazingly warm weather, I decided to devote this morning’s music mix to beach songs! These songs make me instantly think of summers driving through Virginia Beach with the windows down, trying not to melt before I got a Slurpee at 7-Eleven. They remind me of the smell of suntan lotion, sand sticking to my arms, seagulls crying and the lava-hot cars that you have to air out before using after a day at the beach. Whether you grew up in a beach town or just love to take a mental escape somewhere sunny and sandy, I hope this will be a fun reminder that summer is coming and hopefully we can all be in flip flops soon.

I hope you’ll share your favorite songs, too. Today is miserable and grey again in Brooklyn so I could sure use some help keeping the beachy mood going and finding some new songs (or artists) that can bright the day. xo, grace

The Beach Boys “Wouldn’t it be Nice”- Few things remind me of growing up at the beach like The Beach Boys. My best friend when I was little basically only owned Beach Boys albums (I think there was a Michael Jackson album in there, too) so we listened to them on repeat, 24/7. I’ll always think of summers in VB when I hear this.

The Sandals “Theme from Endless Summer”- Like every girl growing up in a beach town, I dreamed of dating the cutest surfer boys. I watched them surf at 1st street and wished my dark hair would magically turn blond over night, because that seemed like the only way to get their attention. Eventually I turned my sights from local surfers to famous surfers I had no hope of dating. I nursed a major crush on Pat O’Connell from Endless Summer II and watched this movie about two hundred times. This theme song is permanently etched in my mind as the soundtrack to all things surfers and waves.

Sublime “What I Got”- There was a good two months growing up where this was the only album playing in my car. Everyone in my high school was obsessed and so was I. Beachy, chill and sort of inappropriate (I don’t think anyone’s parents loved when Bradley started listing drugs he’d done in “Scarlet Begonias”), Sublime was the perfect way to chill out on a long hot summer day.

CLICK HERE for more beach tunes after the jump!

Dick Dale and the Del-Tones “Miserlou”- This song was a classic long before Pulp Fiction and The Black Eyed Peas got their hands on it (why do the BEP ruin everything they touch?). My same friend who only owned Beach Boys albums had a Dad with a major appreciation for Surf Rock, so this song was a hit around their house. We would shimmy around in her playroom listening to this and try to hula-hoop for the entire duration of the song.

*In other Surf Rock awesomeness- why don’t bands dance in unison like this anymore? This is seriously adorable.

The Ramones “California Sun”- This song makes me long for beach parties and jumping around while the smell of a cookout builds in the background.

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  • Aaaaah!!! Beach Boys ‘Wouldn’t it be Nice’ was our wedding song – first dance!!!! We’re approaching our one year mark in June!

    Thanks for reminding me of some great memories!!!!

  • OMG…. here’s where I out myself as a total 80’s girl. I remember summers in Myrtle Beach with my family where my friends and I would sneak into Mother Fletcher’s (we were too young to get in legally) and watch SugarCreek perform. Here’s my favorite one of their songs.

    Rock the Night Away, by SugarCreek

    If this doesn’t sound like the 80’s to you then you weren’t there. lol.

  • Maybe not my *favorite* song, but it’s just not summer until I hear some Fresh Prince + Jazzy Jeff with “Summertime”.
    Also! Etta James + Louis Armstrong’s duet on the classic “Summertime”.

  • Oh the VW bus picture… reminds me of my husband’s old ’71 bus he had when we started dating in college. He proposed to me with a piece of seaglass, and we were going to have a beach wedding until we found the perfect little historic house near our town.

    We’re pretty much a mix of country and beachy. Love anything by Jack Johnson (walked down the aisle to “Better Together”), Jimmy Buffet, the Beach Boys, and things like that. We also listen to a lot of local music. Our bus didn’t have a radio though, so we just listened to the sound of waves crashing while we drove it down A1A.

  • i’m so glad sublime is on here :) my pick is “heartbeats” by the knife. it’s the original (jose gonzalez covered it), and it’s so weird and so cool. watching those kids in the video skateboard is beyond hypnotic. you can almost feel the wind in your hair. http://vimeo.com/10377992?ab

  • Great list. I especially like the Dick Dale clip, where he’s the only one who’s been indtructed in the possiblity of rocking out.

    I’m from the Upper Midwest, so our beach songs are lake songs. This one and the attendant video capture it best, I think.

  • AWESOME morning playlist! My favorite from the bunch has got to be Sublime “What I Got.” Totally reminds me of cruisin up and down PCH while blasting that in my car.

  • As someone who grew up in California and had a dalmatian for 16 years…Sublime always has a special place in my heart.

    And Endless Summer will forever and always be my favorite surf film (and is one of the reasons I’m moving to Australia, ha!)

  • on a cold and not very sunny day in Edinburgh, Scotland, this post has perked me up and given me some vim to continue on with studying, having lost my mojo a bit at lunch time (when Design*Sponge and North America wakes up, for us!). Thanks Grace & co!

  • As a professor living in Miami, summer has a special place in my heart. Each year I make a songs of summer mix cd for my friend to mark the end of the (school) year and the beginning of summer beach fun. Most of the songs you have listed here have made the cut with some new ones I’m going to check out for this years release). Also many a song by Jimmy Buffett the east coast equivalent of the beach boys! Theme song from Hawaii 5-0, gidget, and surveyed 6. Some songs from beach blanket bingo (I grew up wanting to be gidget). Summer nights from grease. Kokomo. Put the lime in the coconut. Dock of the bay. Perfect day.. Six-pack summer. On the beach at Waikiki. Summer fling. Where’s my suntan lotion?

  • Oh boy. I think Sublime’s “What I Got” will always remind me of the summer I graduated from high school, discovered freedom, befriended a bad girl who smoked clove cigarettes, and rollerbladed the waterfront after midnight every single night. It was truly the best.

  • I think most of my music would be classified as “summer” music…
    Love Sublime! I agree, for one summer in High School that’s all we listened too!
    I love Jack Johnson/Donavon Frankenreiter/Xavier Rudd/John Butler Trio for the beach…or any time actually!
    Another album that reminds me so much of summer and beach/lake trips is The Travelling Wilburys Vol.1. My parents used to play this all the time in the summer when we were kids.

  • Move over, and let me have the driver’s seat of the Jimmy Buffett bandwagon.
    “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season”
    “Tin Cup Chalice”
    “I Have Found Me a Home”
    “Coast of Marseilles”

    As for non-Buffett…
    “Represent Cuba” – Orishas
    “Boys of Summer” – The Ataris (not opposed to the Don Henley version, though)
    “Hey Ya” – cover by The Blanks (ukulele version from Scrubs!)
    “Annan Water” – The Decemberists
    “Easy Silence” – Dixie Chicks
    “Where Is My Mind?” – The Pixies

    I could go on… but I suppose I’ll just start my own blog post on the subject!

  • I grew up in a southern Cali beach town. Other songs that remind me of summer: Brown Cow / Steely Dan, UB40 / Red Red Wine. Of course, anything Bob Marley. But will always love the Beach Boys. I never surfed much myself, but I do have a weakness for all surfer boys (who never paid attention to my dark hair either).

  • Oh this is the best! I am a “water baby” too. Even though I live in a city with little beach culture, I live for when I can get to the beach, slap on my Westbeach hoodie, start a beach fire and watch the sunset! Thank you- great post for a gray day!!

  • “Summer in the City”, Lovin’ Spoonful
    and the all time best song ever recorded: “Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

  • How Bizarre by OMC
    Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues by the Eels

    They both make me feel like they are the soundtrack to a movie I am in where I live a beautiful summer life and something awesome is about to happen.

  • Great post on a grey day here in Boston too. Being from the Jersey Shore (before it was embarrassing to say so) I loved your soundtrack-it hit all the right notes. BTW Grace, do you have a good Brooklyn btq. hotel recommendation for an upcoming girls getaway? I already have the city guide tucked away. Thanks!

  • Some of you folks may roll your eyes at this, but my summer mix this year will include: Surfer Blood, Wavvves, Best Coast, Beach House, and Cults. ALL SO GOOD!

  • I hate to be unoriginal, but amya is right. Dirty Gold’s California Sunrise makes me wanna call in sick and drive up and down PCH.

  • Great post!!! I grew up in Huntington Beach and knew Robert August (from Endless Summer). Thanks for a trip back down memory lane.


  • I can relate, Grace. I grew up in Malibu in the 1960s — the hotbed of surfing culture! Not that I surfed, because girls didn’t do that sort of thing back then, but I spent summers in the waves on an inflatable surfmat. The ocean here is COLD, but it didn’t bother me then. Now I have to wear a wetsuit.

  • YES! How Bizarre by OMC! totally reminds me of the beach… it always came on the radio as I was driving to the beach…. That and Fly by Sugar Ray, and Will Smith’s “Summertime”, and Jane’s Addiction “Been Caught Stealing”

  • I have left the friendly confines of Memphis to find myself sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in DC. Having grown up on the Chesapeak Bay, I long for salt water and sand. I now get my fix for these in Orange Beach/Gulf Shores and when I am there it is a must that I have awesome tunage to keep me in the right frame of mind. The Beach Boys was my 1st concert and one of my fondest memories as a wee lad are the 4th of July concerts they would play on the National Mall in DC. So any they are a must for any beach playlist, without further ado I present my beach playlist:
    •Good Vibrations: The Beach Boys
    •Burn One Down: Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
    •Ants Marching(The 1st album version): DMB
    •God Only Knows: The Beach Boys
    •Escape (Pina Colada song): Rupert Holmes
    •Dune Buggy: The Presidents of the United States
    •California Waiting: Kings of Leon
    •Two Princes: Spin Doctors
    •Aja: Steely Dan
    •Sailing: Christopher Cross
    •The Joker: The Steve Miller Band
    •Beer Run: Todd Snider
    •Cabo Wabo: Van Haggar
    •Anything by David Lee Roth Van Halen
    •Surf Wax America: Weezer
    •Coconut: Widespread
    •Anything by Bob Marley, which I can’t believe hasn’t been mentioned yet
    •All I Wanna Do: Sheryl Crow
    •Rock Steady: Marc Broussard
    •Good Morning Atztlan: Los Lobos
    •Changes in Latitude: Jimmy Buffet
    •Taylor: Jack Johnson, hell anything by him is good music for the beach
    •We Danced: The Hooters
    •My Sweet Lord: George Harrison
    •Tequila Sunrise: The Eagles
    It’s imperative that these songs be listened to while drinking a SUPER cold Coors Light, in a can, wearing Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion/oil, wearing an awesome pair of shades, a pair of FloJos flip flops, and sitting in a comfy beach chair that is placed in shall water. When you are finished you can saunter over to a fish house and eat some fresh off the boat shrimp. It sure beats sitting in bumper to bumper traffic in DC.

  • Grace, I love this! I grew up in Southern California, and will always have a soft spot for the beach. I love your list. I would add Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” (written on a houseboat in Sausalito, CA, I hear.) (p.s. I was in a little pop band in college, and we would dance in unison during shows sometimes. Silly, but fun!)

  • Hello Grace,
    I come from Florida and we lived in Clearwater right across the street from the beach when it was a real beachy town, we later moved to Miami were the waves were bigger and we used to see the sufers and yes they were all so cute. Great selection of songs, for someone from Miami I would add a little Salsa in there, however, I have had the Beach Boys songs in my head all week and has made me nostalgic for a Florida of beaches, endless shores, incredibly blue skies and water and the crashing waves. My best, Kelly

  • Here are a few beach classics that are timeless:
    Tequila: The Champs (Pee Wee Herman Dance)
    Surfin Bird: The Trashmen, The Bird is the word
    Wolly Bully: Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs
    Rock Lobster: Athens GA’s own The B52s
    Pipeline: The Ventures, think surfin scene from Apocalypse Now.

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