The James Barker Band’s perfect summertime playlist

Summer dock playlist KarepaStock/Shutterstock

In Partnership with Cottage Life TV

Every summer has its song. And centre stage on this summer’s soundtrack has been the James Barker Band’s feel-good ode to lazy summer days, “Summer Time,” which you’ve likely heard if you’ve been watching Cottage Life Television.

Our favourite sounds of the cottage might range between loon calls and wind-rustled conifers, but we’ll admit that a sunny day at the lake deserves a dock-rocking playlist. And who better to curate it than the kings of Canadian summer themselves? So to find out what JBB listens to on a long weekend—as well as what inspires them when they’re cooking up country hits like “Summer Time” and “Lawn Chair Lazy”—we sat down with James Barker to dissect his favourite summer songs. Stream the playlist on Spotify.

“Summer Time” by the James Barker Band

“I was trying to find a way to write the idea of ‘island time’ into a song, but make it about summer. And then it clicked—the clock starts slowing down when you’re on ‘summer time.’ We just ran with it and wrote it all in one day, which is very rare for us. When we hit the line, ‘A little change of pace as soon as that spring breaks,’ the whole thing just made sense. It’s fun writing those kinds of songs once you start to lock them in.”

“Barefoot Blue Jean Night” by Jake Owen

“I remember hearing it for the first time and being like, What is this? It’s so fresh sounding, and it just encapsulates that whole summertime vibe. Every single line is a cool thought. Everything in it is so well thought out and so well formulated. For me, it might be the best summer song of all time.”

“Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones

“It’s a song that I listen to loud in the summer. I love the Stones—we all do. You can sit on any patio anywhere, and if ‘Beast of Burden’ comes on, you’re having a good time.”

“Picture” by Kid Rock

“It’s one of those songs that’s bigger than the artist, which is something that seems to happen with summer songs. I don’t know if it’s just something about the magic of summer, but songs can just blow up and overtake the artist in a way.”

“The Seashores of Old Mexico” by George Strait

“I’m a George Strait junky because my dad’s a big fan. And this song, with its Spanish vibe and nylon-string guitars, is so easy-breezy summery. You can always tell a summertime song because if it comes on in the winter, it makes you feel like summer. And this is one of those songs where it could be Christmas, and if it came on the radio, I would forget it was December.”

“Drink in My Hand” by Eric Church

“Eric Church is the holy grail for me. His stuff is a little more outlaw and rock, so it’s more raw. But it’s perfect for summer because it’s just about having a good time.”

“Living the Dream” by the James Barker Band

“I remember driving home after working on a farm in probably 2013. I was filthy and exhausted, and I was looking forward to going out that night, and I just started singing the ‘I drink beer’ line as a joke. The rest came together in rehearsal, except for one line. I was sitting on the couch at my mom’s place, telling her about this goofy song we were writing, and she said, ‘You should say something about that stupid dating app.’ And that’s where the Tinder line came from. I was surprised she even knew about it. So I guess she’ll want royalties now.”

“Young” by Kenny Chesney

“There are a handful of songs that I reserve for a category called ‘I will sing those out loud if they come on.’ And that’s one of those songs. I’ll belt it out every time I hear it.”

“Sun Daze” by Florida Georgia Line

“I remember when that album came out, and I was amazed by the songwriting on it. People can say whatever they want about ‘pop country,’ but it’s a lot harder to write a summer song that’s a hit—and that’s still melodically cool with clever lines—than to write a song that’s sad and mopey.”

“You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC

“The Back in Black album is one of my biggest guilty pleasures. I listen to that entire album—I kid you not—a minimum of three times a week. We even used to play ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ in bars. A lot of their songs are like country songs. They’re direct and to-the-point, and you can tell they’re just sitting down and trying to write good music.”

“Mary Jane’s Last Dance” by Tom Petty

“I was raised listening to country music, but when I was about 12 there was a big departure into rock before I got back into it. So I’m still a big classic rock fan, from the Beatles and the Stones to Tom Petty. And Mary Jane’s Last Dance, to me, might not be a country summer song, but it’s definitely a summer song. If you’re out having a beer on the dock and that song comes on, you can’t help feeling good.”

“Lawn Chair Lazy” by the James Barker Band

“That’s one we wrote early on, and it’s our first single. We were just trying to write a summertime song, and it actually started with the ‘beer beer beer’ line. All of us were like, you can’t write that—people will get offended. But it just felt so good. And if it feels good, then all of the rules go out the window.”

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