Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published January 5th 2022
The beach is perfect for music
It's summertime where I am, and so that means a lot of spending time outdoors. In Australia, it is said that around 80% of the population lives near the coast (I certainly do), and so for us, summer is all about the beach and everything that goes along with that.
As such, I've put this list together as a bit of a summer playlist, songs about the beach, the shore, sand, et al. Many are laid-back, there are a number of surf songs, and it's just a generally relaxing collection that is so easy to listen to while wiling away the hours by the ocean.
So, usual rules apply one song per artist, one version of each song, I need to like the song and in my collection. No songs here about the sun or the water, as I've done lists on those in the past this is purely about the beach and everything that goes along with it.
Let's hit the sand!
'Love Letters In The Sand' by Pat Boone (1957)
Okay, full disclosure this is not a personal favourite, but is here for my mother who likes it. Still, Boone's voice is smooth and it's a sweet, if a little twee, love song about messages washed away by the waves.
'Stranger On The Shore' by Acker Bilk (1961)
Oddly enough, this song was my introduction to jazz in any form, and it still holds a place in my heart. The clarinet is a really nice instrument to listen to at any time, but this song really does it well.
'Remember (Walking In The Sand)' by The Shangri-Las (1964)
The Shangri-Las had a big thing for dramatic songs, and this is one of their better-known tracks with that change of tempo in the middle and lots of "oohs" throughout. Oh, and for what it's worth, avoid the Beach Boys 1980s cover version.
'Beach Blanket Bingo' by Donna Loren (1965)
The title track from a Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello Beach movie (of which there were way too many) is a fun bit of 60s pop. If you're looking to get a copy, avoid the one with the Avalon guest verse (yes, they were doing guest verses even back then) and go for the one just by Donna.
'Girls On The Beach' by The Beach Boys (1965)
A slower Beach Boys track, showcasing their harmonising skills and Brian Wilson's really strong sense of a tune and arrangement. A song not often remembered by fans, but it stands out (in a good way) for being so different.
'Beach Baby' by First Class (1974)
Admission time this is a song that my friends consider one of my guilty pleasure songs. I turn it up and sing it too loudly too often. It might be cheesy, but I just find it such a fun bit of pop. And, from what I can work out, this is a genuine one-hit-wonder. The band re-recorded it, and then the lead singer re-recorded it as a solo track. So it really is all they have.
'Down On The Beach Tonight' by The Drifters (1974)
More harmonies, this time from a band that started in the 60s and just kept on going year after year. This is a song I have on a greatest hits package and it is another of their fine pieces of music, from their pseudo-disco phase.
'Echo Beach' by Martha And The Muffins (1980)
Classic 1980s new wave pop here, with a track that was everywhere in 1980/1981. And I still hear it pulled out every so often, showing it has stood the test of time. What is Echo Beach? Not really sure. Is it a great track? Yes. And while this might be their only big international hit, they are still active in Canada and released an album as late as 2010.
'The Beach' by New Order (1983)
Okay, let's be honest, this is the instrumental mix of the classic New Order song 'Blue Monday' given a different title, but I love the original, and this version is just such a great bit of 1980s dance pop New Wave goodness. It is the B-side of the 12-inch and I will admit, when I got the disc and this was on it, I thought a mistake had been made until I read the music mags of the time
'On The Beach' by Chris Rea (1986)
Chris Rea was known for laid-back rock with some fine guitar playing, and this track one of his bigger hits is a fine example of his stylings. Just so pleasant and cool, and perfect for sitting on the beach and chilling out to.
'Old Beach Road' by Martha's Vineyard (1989)
I'll admit, one of the reasons I like this track is I am a sucker for the zydeco sounding instrumentation that is filtered through it and Peggy Van Zalm's voice. Such a pleasant track from a much under-rated Perth, Western Australia band.
'Head In The Sand' by Hoodoo Gurus (1991)
From Kinky, an album that is often overlooked in the Hoodoo Gurus discography in favour of earlier classics, this is a song that just rocks along. I have to say the one time I saw the band live (in the early 90s) I don't remember this song, but I do own the album, and it is great.
'Life's A Beach' by The Whitlams (1997)
More laidback music, this time from Australia's own The Whitlams. Eternal Nightcap is filled with great tunes, and I always wonder why this band didn't do better overseas, especially after grunge had become a parody of itself.
'Oldest Surfer On The Beach' by Jimmy Buffet (2013)
As I said in a previous column, Buffet at this point in time very probably was one of the oldest surfers on the beach! Such a good song, and I really do think Buffet deserves more praise than he gets.
'Circles In The Sand' by GANGgajang feat. Warren H. Williams (2016)
After some time away from the spotlight, GANGgajang came back with this stunning track. While I fully acknowledge the sand is the Australian Outback, I feel it deserves to be here because it could just as easily apply to the shore. And it is a wonderful song to end this list on.
So, there we are, 15 songs about the beach and the things of nature that are found there. I hope you found something you liked and that this little playlist can help make the days just pass by. And if you are in a part of the world where it's winter hopefully, this gives you some nice imagery to help keep warm.