Summer isn’t quite over, but Labor Day is approaching, and students are heading back to school. There are a lot of songs that celebrate summer, but there are also some songs that tackle the end of summer. They’re not all celebratory, by any means. All of them can be heard on YouTube.
1 Sealed With a Kiss, Brian Hyland (1962)
This song precedes Chad & Jeremy’s number by two years, but sounds far more dated. Young lovers part and will write each other letters? How can a generation that tweets and sexts ever relate to that? Still, this had a generation of pre-Beatles teens weeping for lost loves.
2 Summer Song, Chad & Jeremy (1964)
This little song is as wistful as they come. It makes you nostalgic for the beginning of summer, the beginning of a romance and a feeling of innocence. It manages to be sweet and sad at the same time. Part of the first British Invasion acts, Chad & Jeremy buddied with the Beatles, appeared on the TV show Batman and created one terrific and naive lost psychedelic album, Of Cabbages and Kings, before pretty much falling off the map at the end of the 1960s. They reunited a few years ago, and you can bet Summer Song was the duo’s most requested number.
3 Summer Wind, Frank Sinatra (1966)
Here’s a more-adult take on the same theme, but, in this case, the girl is gone. My old buddy, Mike Flannagan, a real Sinatra aficionado, introduced me to this song years ago. It’s such a classic that I was embarrassed that I hadn’t known it. This makes you feel like you’re ending the summer in a classy way. It also makes you want a shot of good hard liquor.
4 Time of No Reply, Nick Drake (1968)
Summer was gone and the heat died down/and autumn reached for her golden crown Nick Drake’s gorgeous song wasn’t actually released until long after Drake’s suicide, but it’s one of the prettiest and most mysterious of his songs.
5 Summer’s Almost Over, Loudon Wainwright III (1976)
Summer’s almost over/Soon it’s back to school/Soon they drain the water/Out of the swimming pool , begins Loudon Wainwright III at the beginning of this song before addressing all the changes of going back to school. While not really a comic song, the lounge-singer delivery and arrangement while Wainwright sings time to gird your loins and don your jockstrap and your cup is priceless.
6 Summer’s Gone, The Kinks (1984)
This song from The Kinks’ underappreciated album is about a lot more than the end of summer. It’s about appreciating life and love. Filled with regret, singer Ray Davies concludes: Now I’m standing in a doorway with water in my shoes/It really feels like summer’s gone.
7 Last Day of Summer, Kirsty MacColl (1994)
This one isn’t a lost love, but the singer telling the man she’s in love with her feelings and they aren’t reciprocated. MacColl was one of the sweetest-voiced and smartest singer-songwriters of the rock era. She unfortunately died while saving her children from an errant speedboat in 2000.
8 The Last Day of Summer, The Cure (2000)
The Cure’s Robert Smith could never be accused of being Mary Sunshine, but this lush beauty is particularly somber. All that I have/All that I hold/All that is wrong/All that I feel for or trust in or love/All that is gone The last day of summer never felt so cold. Sounds like time for some counseling, Bob.
9 Crickets, Akron/Family (2007)
Nothing sounds more like the end of the summer than this song. The band includes the sound of crickets when their song begins to slow on cool nights. Accompanied only with acoustic guitar and piano, this truly is an appreciation of the end of summer, rather than a reminiscence. It just makes you want to sit outside in a sweater.
10 End of Summer Song, The Billionaires (2007)
This has all the innocent charm of an early-1960s number, until you listen to the lyrics, which are filled with pills and insecurity. Still, it’s about as honest of a take on the teenage experience at the end of the season as you’ll find.