Before the warmth of the summer sun completely leaves us until next year, romance author Sarah Dessen shares her favorite songs to signify the season. Her latest book, "Saint Anything" is available now on Kindle.
I believe there is no faster way to get back to a certain time in your life than hearing a song that reminds you of it. This is especially true to me when it comes to summer. Here are five summer songs that will always be playing on the soundtrack of my heart.
“The Tide Is High,” Blondie. I was ten years old when this was released, but it’s one of those songs that no matter how old I get will always mean summer to me. It’s the one playing at the roller rink we went to escape those North Carolina hundred-degree July days. It always seemed to be on when I was at an outdoor café. Even now, in my forties, I hear it regularly on beach trips on the boardwalk and it takes me right back. I cannot imagine a time when I will be able to NOT sing along.
“Road to Nowhere,” The Talking Heads. When I was fourteen, my cousin Lucy got her driver’s license. She was the first of us to achieve this, and immediately our entire summers changed irrevocably. No longer did we have to beg for rides from our older siblings, or, worse, our mothers. Lucy had this beat up, diesel Volkswagen Rabbit and we needed no reason whatsoever to all pile in, turn up the radio and just go….anywhere. Little Creatures, the album this song was on, stayed in her tape deck (!) pretty much the entire summer. But it was this song---cranked up loud, windows down---that was our anthem.
“Sweet Child of Mine,” Guns and Roses. Class of 1988, baby! (Yes: I am that old.) This song hit number one the summer after I graduated from high school. We listened to it so much we got into that cycle: I love this song! Okay, I’m tired of this song. I hate this song. Wait, remember this song? And repeat. Just cuing it up on iTunes just now caused me to get hit with such a wave of nostalgia I almost got knocked out of my chair. It ‘s like it was just yesterday I was eighteen, wearing a tie-dyed bikini and had my whole life ahead of me. Ah, memories.
“Free Fallin,” Tom Petty. The summer after college, when I was writing what would become my first novel That Summer, I waited at a restaurant called The Flying Burrito. My boss, Phil, loved all kinds of music from dirty blues to classic country and everything in between. It feels like this song was always playing in that slow first hour of my shift when I was rolling silverware or wiping down tables. Whenever it came on, I’d think, “I won’t be here forever. I’m going to be a writer someday.” It was just a dream, then. But now when I hear it, it feels like a wish, one that came true.
“Love Me Like the World is Ending,” Ben Lee. The summer after my daughter was born, I was having a bit of a breakdown. I’d had some health issues, I was exhausted from the Lock and Key tour, all that new mom stuff. So on the spur of the moment , I packed up the baby and one of my sitters and headed to Emerald Isle, the North Carolina beach I’d always gone to in summer as a kid. We rented this sticky condo right on the ocean and settled in for a week. Every morning my daughter would wake up around 5am, crying, and I’d have to get her out of the house. So I’d pack her in the stroller or the car and just go…anywhere. Breakfast. The park. The beach. Wherever we went, I had Ben Lee’s album Ripe on repeat on the car stereo or my ear buds. Later, this experience would become the basis for my book Along for the Ride. But at the time, I was just trying to hang in there. Just me, Sasha and Ben Lee, that summer, together.