Summer Jams

What’s Jewish about fun-in-the-sun favorites


Many articles have listed Christmas songs written by Jewish songwriters . But what about the opposite of Christmas songs-- summer jams? Yes, plenty of Jewish songwriters and musicians have been involved in those sun-baked songs, too.  

Here are 19 ("chai," plus one) summer classics with Jewish singers, musicians, songwriters, and even lyrics: 

" Summer in the City " by the Lovin' Spoonful  

Their guitarist, who went by "Zal," was born  Zalman Yanovsky


" Under the Boardwalk " by The Drifters

This hit was co-written by  Artie Resnick , who also co-wrote The Rascals' hit "Good Lovin'."  


" Rockaway Beach " by The Ramones  

Two of the Ramones were Jewish-- lead singer  Jeffrey "Joey Ramone" Hyman and the last living original Ramone,  Thomas "Tommy Ramone" Erdelyi , the son of Holocaust survivors.  


" Summertime " from Porgy and Bess  

Does it get more classic?  George Gershwin , of course, wrote the music, while DuBose Heyward, who wrote the novel the opera was based on, wrote the lyrics. 


" Panama " by Van Halen  

David Lee Roth learned to sing, he said, by studying for his bar mitzvah. 


" Can't Help Falling in Love " by UB40   

It's a summer song because this band gave it a hit reggae redo in 1993. It was co-written by  George David Weiss , who earlier put English lyrics to the African song "Mbube," remixing it as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."   


" Dancing in the Street " by The Mamas and the Papas

"Summer's here, and the time is right." Lead vocals were handled by "Mama" Cass Elliot . True, Martha and the Vandella took this standard to the charts. But then, Van Halen took it there too, with their lead-singer, bar mitzvah boy  David Lee Roth . Both Neil Diamond and Michael Bolton covered it, too.


" You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth " by Meat Loaf  

Is this a summer song? Its subtitle is "Hot Summer Night," so yes. And while Marvin "Meat Loaf" Aday is not, um, kosher, his long-time songwriter  Jim Steinman  was. 


" Still Rock & Roll to Me " by Billy Joel  

Billy Joel 's song blasted out of many a "new set of speakers" in the summer of 1980. 

" In My Feelings " and " One Dance " by Drake  

Canadian Jewish rapper  Aubrey Drake Graham  (his full name) makes our list twice, because the first of these songs is  Rolling Stone Magazine 's #6 on its list of "Best Summer Songs of All Time," and the second was  Insider Magazine 's "Song of the Summer" for 2016.   


" I Gotta Feeling " by Black-Eyed Peas  

It's "gotta" be the only #1 hit whose chorus yells: " Mazel tov!


" California Gurls " by Katy Perry  

One of its songwriters was  Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald . A most prolific songwriter, he's also penned hits for Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj, and Miley Cyrus, among others. The title's misspelling avoids confusion with "California Girls," an earlier hit by…


The Beach Boys  

According to  The Forward : "one of the founding members of the group was  David Marks , the nice Jewish boy who lived across the street from the Wilsons and whose guitar playing on The Beach Boys' first three albums of surf-rock hits helped shape their distinctive sound." Songs from those albums include "Surfin' Safari," "Surfin' USA," "Surfer Girl," and the pensive "In My Room." 

Turns out a people that traces its origins to sunny Israel is just as comfortable writing summer songs as we are at writing "White Christmas." 


AdvertisementSpertus Institute MA in Jewish Professional Studies
AdvertisementJCYS Register