Songs of Escape

Summer is a season for vacations, picnics, day trips — anything to get away and enjoy a sun-drenched day or a starry evening. Here’s a playlist of escapist songs, whether it’s for just a day, a weekend, or a lifetime.

“Come Fly Away,” Shirley Horn.

There are many covers of this Sammy Cahn-Jimmy Van Heusen tune, but jazz vocalist-pianist Horn delivers it with a fetching mix of romance and swinging abandon. When she purrs “Let’s float down to Peru,” it sounds like an intimate invitation.

“Summerfling,” k.d. lang.

The Canadian singer with the powerful pipes sounds absolutely smitten in this breezy song about being in the throes of a summer romance, from her sun-splashed CD Invincible Summer.

“Lazy Day,” Spanky & Our Gang.

This infectious 1967 hit is almost choral-like in its construction. A minor key gives way to a scintillating major modulation, complete with harp glissandos. The lyrics are equally heady: “Blue sky, sunshine, what a day to take a walk in the park. Ice cream, daydreams, ’til the sky becomes a blanket of stars.”

“Let’s Get Lost,” Chet Baker.

The jazz crooner and trumpeter made this bouncy tune one of his signatures. It’s an up-tempo ballad whose lyrics suggest that two lovers drop off the radar and live in their own world. Sounds like a plan.

“A Pillow of Winds,” Pink Floyd.

OK, so it’s about falling asleep, but the lushly beautiful acoustic cut from the band’s Meddle album is also about surrendering to the realm of dreams, regardless of the time of day.

“A Weekend in the Country,” from Stephen Sondheim’s soundtrack to A Little Night Music.

The bustle and anticipation of preparing for a weekend away is set to clever words and music with Sondheim’s unmistakable deft touch.

“Drop Me Off in Harlem,” Bobby Short.

Sometimes an evening out is all the getaway one needs. Duke Ellington wrote this tune when Harlem was a place of escape teeming with hot jazz and cool cocktails. Cabaret performer Short is spot-on in his insouciant interpretation.

“Let’s Go Away for Awhile,” The Beach Boys.

This instrumental number off the Pet Sounds album is the ideal accompaniment to a California summer excursion — with the top down.

“Let’s Get Away from It All,” Frank Sinatra.

The 1941 pop standard never sounds dated, either in its catchy music or in its sentiment of breaking away from the weary world. “Let’s take a boat to Bermuda/Let’s take a plane to St. Paul/Let’s take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack/Let’s get away from it all.”  And what better travel guide than Ol’ Blue Eyes?

“Downtown,” Petula Clark.

There’s nothing like the bright lights of the big city to lift one’s spirits. When Clark belts out, “Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty,” it’s a command to bury the blues.