"Summer in the City" is a song recorded by The Lovin' Spoonful, written by John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian and Steve Boone.

"Summer in the City"
Single by The Lovin' Spoonful
from the album Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
B-side "Butchie's Tune"
Released July 4, 1966
Format 7" 45rpm
Genre Rockpop
Length 2:41
Label Kama Sutra
Writer(s) John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian,Steve Boone[a 1][1][2]
Producer Erik Jacobsen
The Lovin' Spoonful singles chronology
"Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?"


"Summer in the City"


"Rain on the Roof"


It appeared on their album Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1966, for three consecutive weeks.[3] The song features a series of car horns during the instrumental bridge, starting with a Volkswagen Beetle horn, and ends up with a jackhammer sound, in order to give the impression of the sounds of the summer in the city. The song is ranked number 401 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[4]

The signature keyboard part is played on a Hohner Pianet, and the organ is a Vox Continental.


 [hide*1 Background


When at Blair Academy, Mark Sebastian submitted the lyrics as a poem for the literary magazine. That poem, entitled "Summer In the City," had the refrain "but at night it's a different world, go out and find a girl, come on, come on and dance all night, despite the heat it'll be alright [sic], and babe don't you know it's a pity, the days can't be like the night, in the summer in the city." His older brother John changed the slower verses to a more upbeat model, keeping the title and the refrain. Mark's part remains as he wrote it, words and music. Bassist Steve Boone added the instrumental coda in the middle.

Media appearances[edit]Edit

The song was featured on The Simpsons episode "Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge", Only Fools and Horses episode "Miami Twice", in the opening scenes of the Bruce Willis action film Die Hard with a Vengeance, in a 2006 Gatorade commercial, the 1994 PBS documentary Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns, in the 1989 movie The Karate Kid, Part III, in an advert for the UK retailer Marks & Spencer and in a commercial for Dutch brewer Grolsch. The song was used in the Debenhams advert "Actor". The song was also featured on the television show Family Ties, when Steven Keaton (Michael Gross) sings the first few lyrics while narrating a home movie. Its tune was used in a psychedelic arrangement for Russian movie Tvoyu Mat, made by Soyuz for the RTR channel in 1996.

On a VH1 Classic episode of Classic Albums featuring Disraeli Gears by Cream, it was asserted that the predominant guitar riff of the song "Tales of Brave Ulysses" from Disraeli Gears was inspired by the keyboard riff of "Summer in the City."

The song was featured in German art-director Wim Wenders' first film, 1970's Summer in the City. Comedians Horatio Sanz and Fred Armisen sang the song on the 2004 season finale ofSaturday Night Live during a sketch that contained different cast members singing songs that had a summer theme. "Summer in the City" was used as background music on American IdolSeason 8 during tryouts in Phoenix, Arizona.

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1966) Peak


U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
Dutch Singles Chart 2
Finnish Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart 8

Cover versions and samples[edit]Edit

Cover versions of the song include B.B. King in 1972, "Inner Circle" in 1980, Quincy Jones in 1973, Canadian Rockers "The Stampeders" on their 1975 Album "Steamin", Max Werner on his 1981 album Seasons, Tim Curry in 1982, Joe Cocker in 1993, and The Stranglers on their 1997 album Written in Red. In 2000, Joe Jackson released a live album titled Summer in the City: Live in New York, which opens with a cover of the song. The band Eat released a cover of the song in 1989. Country music artist Larry Stewart recorded it on his 1999 album Learning to Breathe. The Butthole Surfers covered the song on "Music for Our Mother Ocean (MOM)" Series No. 3 released in 1999. Styx covered the song on their "Big Bang Theory" released in 2005. It was also sampled by Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip in 2006 for their song "First Time We Met Musik". A modified version of the chorus was used in the third single Thru Ya City from Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump by De La Soul, Feat. D.V. Alias Khrist. In 2008, Barry Hay (The leadsinger of Golden Earring) covered this song together with the Metropole Orchestra.

The English electronic duo Kinobe sampled the song's keyboard riff on their 2001 track "Summer In The Studio".

The Quincy Jones cover of "Summer in the City" has been sampled by Massive Attack in the song "Exchange" from their acclaimed album MezzanineNightmares on Wax in his song "Night's Interlude" on the album Smokers Delight, and also by The Pharcyde on their seminal hit "Passin' Me By" from the album Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. It has also been sampled by Black Moon on their 1994 song "Reality" and also sampled by Joe on the remix to his 2001 hit "Stutter". Another cover, by the Gutter Brothers appeared on the soundtrack to the Only Fools and Horses film "Miami Twice". The song has also been covered by UK jazz-dance act, Incognito on the 2006 album Bees + Things + Flowers.

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