Nothing has inspired more songs to be written than the concept of “love,” in all of its many aspects. That’s beyond obvious. But the second-greatest inspiration for song writers is not quite so obvious, at least until you do a little digging around on the Internet.
As far as I can tell there’s no actual list of such things, but the notion of “vacation” and its related themes of “summer,” “relaxation” and “travel” certainly are in contention for No. 2 on the all-time music hit list, if there were such a list.
Doubt it? You’ve probably got a vacation-themed song playing you head right now, whether it’s Vacation by The Go-Gos, Holiday Road by Lindsey Buckingham and Christmas Vacation by Mavis Staples (both from the wildly popular series of National Lampoon’s Vacation movies) or something a bit less obvious like Frank Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me, or Blake Shelton’s Some Beach.
So why is it that having a great time relaxing away from work and our daily routines plays such a prominent role in the creation of popular music? Because we have great, fond memories of the many great times we’ve had on vacation, relaxing and traveling to new or interesting places and enjoying experiences we rarely or never had before. And artists want to tap into that emotional energy to engage us.
- Vacation (in general) – Sweet Vacation by Lionel Ritchie, Spring Vacation by The Beach Boys, Permanent Vacation by Aerosmith
- The beach – Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys, The Girl From Ipanema by Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz
- Surfing – Wipeout by The Ventures (and others), Surfin’ Safari by The Beach Boys
- Driving with the windows (and maybe the top) down – Rockin Down The Highway by The Doobie Brothers, Drive My Car by The Beatles
- Sailing – Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Sailing by Christopher Cross, Sloop John B by The Beach Boys
- Flying – Two Tickets to Paradise by Eddie Money, Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz
- Summer (in general) – In the Summer Time by Mungo Jerry, The Boys of Summer by Don Henley, Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams, All Summer Long by Kid Rock, Cruel Summer by Bananarama, Hot Fun In The Summertime by Sly And The Family Stone, Summer (from The Four Seasons) by Antonio Vivaldi
- Hotels – Hotel California by The Eagles, Holiday Inn by Elton John
- Exotic destinations and trips – Marrakesh Express by Crosby, Stills & Nash, Africa by Toto, Katmandu by Bob Seger, Graceland by Paul Simon, City of New Orleans by Arlo Guthrie
- Summer love – Summer Nights by Olivia Newton John & John Travolta, from Grease, Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters
- Chillin’ in the Keys – Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett, Kokomo by the Beach Boys, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes by Jimmy Buffett
- Traveling – On the Road Again, by Willie Nelson, Ramblin Man by The Allman Brothers, I’ve Been Everywhere Man by Johnny Cash, Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival
- Summer weather – Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts, Summer Rain by Johnny Rivers, Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles, Lovely Day by Bill Withers
- Summer dancing – Dancing in The Streets, Martha and the Vandellas
- Fun rituals of summer – Centerfield by John Fogerty
See you onboard.
Note: The music and video links included here are meant for your reference and convenience. Some are links to public websites that may include unauthorized, lower quality versions of songs or performances. Others are to commercial music sales sites where you can listen to portions or “samples” of the referenced songs for free. If you download any of songs, please respect the rights of the musicians to receive payment for their work and art by doing so through reputable music retailing sites or the artists’ own web sites.