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Little known fact about me: I was once an orchestra geek.
I say little known but that statement only really applies to anybody who met me post-2011. Those who were around before then are all too aware that I was the absolute lemon who would voluntarily walk the almost 2-miles to school and back twice a week with an 11lb mass of plywood otherwise known as a cello strapped to my back.
Some of the other kids would throw stones and plastic bottles at me, not because they wanted to actually hurt me, but because from behind I was just a giant blob with legs and dreadlocks and come on, who wouldn’t want to throw things at such imagery?!
I’ll admit, it wasn’t great constantly getting bottles to the head, but most of those kids are probably on probation now so who’s actually winning at life?
I wasn’t particularly good at playing the cello (a combination of not enough practice and the fact that my pinky finger is an absolute party animal and won’t stay down to hold the bow properly) but I loved it all the same.
Because (and I don’t want to sound like a wet flannel here) music was my first love.
Before travel even entered my mind as a possibility, music was there.
Which is why, when Destination2 reached out to see if I wanted to be part of their Summer 2017 campaign, that dreadlock-wearing, music-obsessed 15-year old still hidden inside of me somewhere couldn’t help but click her heels with excitement.
So, the task was to create my very own Summer playlist, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now.
At first, I was super tempted to just compile an A to Z list of the most annoying summer songs in history that get stuck in your head forever (feat. VengaBoys, Cliff Richard, and Ricky Martin). Then I realised those songs would get stuck in my head forever too, so I put my thinking cap on and tried to throw together a little list of my favourite summer tunes.
About half of the list really are the kind of songs that make you dream of coconut trees and white sandy beaches, but then the other half is just a scattering of slightly random and not-at-all linked to Summer songs that bring back memories of certain summers over the past 24-ish years.
Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon
When I was a kid there were a few consecutive years when we went camping somewhere in West Wales (and I think Devon once?) during the Summer holidays. The 2 hour (minimum!) drive there would be spent with the four (five after my sister was born) of us squashed into my stepdad’s Vauxhall Astra along with way too much stuff, playing games and listening to the same handful of cassettes over and over again. Yes, I said cassettes, I’m that old. My song of choice was always “Werewolves in London”, simply because I loved howling along with the WAOOOs.
In hindsight, my parents probably indulged my request for that song way too often, but nowadays I can’t hear that opening few bars without smiling and thinking about those summer drives.
Jump Right In – Zac Brown Band
If you aren’t familiar with ZBB, you are missing out. They were the soundtrack to my whole summer last year, so of course I needed to feature them somewhere, and this song is about as summery and make you wanna go skinny dipping as you can get in the world of beards and crocheted hats.
Thangamey – Anirudh Ravichander
This is my road trip song. You probably think it’s an odd choice for a British girl who speaks zero Tamil, and you wouldn’t be wrong. So let me explain.
Last year I spent a significant amount of time in India, most of which was spent in my friend’s car driving from one place to another. We went on quite a few pretty long state-to-state road trips and whenever this song came on the stereo, everyone in the back seat would sing along with gusto. I have no idea what the song is about or what the words actually are, but I sing along anyway, with a huge grin on my face, because it reminds of all those Indian road trips with the crazy driving and frequent biryani stops.
La Bicicleta – Carlos Vives & Shakira
It would be an absolute travesty to have a summer playlist without Shakira making an appearance on it at least once. And right now THIS is the song that gets me bopping along like it’s nobody’s business.
The music video was filmed in Santa Marta and Barranquilla, and watching it transports me back to my first time visiting Colombia in 2013 when I visited both cities.
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
There are 2 songs that have popped up in close to every single country I’ve ever visited. And they are Three Little Birds by one of my absolute favourite artists to have ever walked the face of the earth (and inspiration for 15-year old me’s dreadlocks) and, bizarrely, Angels by Robbie Williams.
Seriously, pan-pipes Robbie Williams is a thing. If “feel-good summer jams” were an actual genre, it would be epitomised by Three Little Birds. Listen to it without smiling and thinking of summer – go on, I dare you.
The Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
Okay, so our first (and only, I think) holiday as a family of five after my sister was born was to Ireland in the summer of two-thousand-and-something (three maybe?). My stepdad is a huge Thin Lizzy fan, and I think my mother must have been too seeing as she named after one of their songs, so one of – if not THE only – reasons we drove all the way from South Wales to Ireland was to visit the grave of Phil Lynott.
Obviously because we were going on some weird family pilgrimage to a musician’s grave, we had to listen to said musician’s tracks on repeat the whole way there and back. Anything by Thin Lizzy reminds me of that summer, but The Boys Are Back in Town in particular!
Despacito – Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee
Sans Justin Bieber, s’il vous plait.
I am so sorry for doing this. I really, really am. But at least I opted for the version without Biebs. And can you honestly say this song doesn’t make you feel all summery and ready to get sunbathe (or, more accurately, rain-bathe because, you know, British weather)?!
Apparently, the video was filmed in Puerto Rico, but the first 50 seconds or so looks crazy similar to the place where I almost got washed away by a riptide in Colombia, so happy Summer memories and all that!
Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It – Will Smith
I just like Will Smith.
Live Like You Were Dying – Tim McGraw
I’m an act now, think later kind of fella. And that’s thanks, in part, to this song. I don’t know what it is about it but it just makes me want to jump in rivers when I can’t really swim, drive at 60mph without a helmet and do other really reckless and stupid things I probably shouldn’t.
And that’s what summer’s for too, riiiight? Doing things you otherwise wouldn’t, hopping right out of your comfort zone and right into an overnight police holding cell because skinny dipping is illegal in some countries.
Toes – Zac Brown Band
You know those kinds of songs I already mentioned in that way-too-long intro to this post? The ones that have such a summery vibe to them that they instantly transport you to a sun lounger somewhere exotic, ice-cold fresh fruit juice in one hand and a good book in another? ZBB Toes does that to me. It’s the only summer holiday song you’ll ever need in your life, to be honest, and if you haven’t heard it before YOU NEED TO GET ON IT.
I listened to this song while sitting on a beach in Belize, Mexico, Sri Lanka and Brazil and the reality totally lived up to the dream!
And that’s my playlist! Only 10 songs, which is kind of a miracle because my current go-to Spotify playlist is 264 songs long but there we go!
Wales has already had its summer this year (4 whole days a few weeks ago, wowza!) but for anyone out there still craving a little sun, Destination 2 has some great Summer 2017 deals for a sneaky little get away (or 2, I won’t judge!).