The Perfect Cape Cod Soundtrack
By: Johnny Gwynn, April 23, 2012
Anyone who has ever gone on a road trips knows it’s essential to make a perfect mixtape or playlist for the soundtrack of your trip. If you’re going to California or New York, there are plenty of songs to choose from. But what about going to Cape Cod?
Turns out, there are quite a few songs and groups that have immortalized the Cape and Islands.
For most people, Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod” is the classic Cape Cod song. It was not actually written by Page (who was a native of Oklahoma) but as the song became popular, Page decided to make the Cape a regular stop on her tours.
Not much is known about the songwriters’ connection to the Cape, but a look at the lyrics shows that their summers here left a lasting impression. “Old Cape Cod” has since been covered by everyone from Bing Crosby to Barbara Streisand, with the Beach Boys referencing it in their own song, “Disney Girls.”
Two popular songs from the 70s also reference the Cape. Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” famously references that Cape Cod past time: “If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the Cape…”
Boston’s “Rock and Roll Band” contains the line “Dancing in the streets of Hyannis.” Although Boston never did play on in Hyannis, Boston’s drummer, Jim Masdea, played in numerous local bands that would play shows in Hyannis.
Some notable vacationers have included references to Cape Cod in their songs—for example, James Taylor’s buddy Jimmy Buffett would often visit the Taylor compound on Martha’s Vineyard. In “Volcano,” Buffett namedrops his favorite sailing area, singing, “Don’t want to land on no Buzzards Bay.”
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Sound get a shout-out in Billy Joel’s classic “Downeaster Alexa.” Joel actually had a house on Martha’s Vineyard he would frequent with Christie Brinkley, but after the divorce, he sold the house.
New Cape Cod
For those looking for more contemporary Cape Cod tracks, you have your pick from a wide variety of popular artists.
LFO’s “Summer Girls” may not mention the Cape outright, but LFO’s Rich Cronin has mentioned in numerous interviews that he wrote it about his summers on the Cape.
Cronin, it turns out, was a lot more local than one might think. He grew up in Kingston, and attended Sacred Heart High School and Bridgewater State University. If “Summer Girls” is any indication, he was no stranger to Cape Cod summers.
Vampire Weekend’s whole image and first album were dripping with Cape Cod chic. From “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” to “Walcott,” the band ripped off the Cape so much they at least owe us a show at the Melody Tent (fingers crossed).
Finally, bands like Grizzly Bear take Cape Cod love to the next level. Locals may notice that their last album, “Veckatimest” is also a euphemism for Naushon Island, one of the Elizabeth Islands. This was fully intended, as the band recorded their third studio album at one of the mansions on the Forbes-owned island.
While this list might make for an eclectic mix CD, there’s something to be said about a place that can inspire a seemingly endless and diverse list of songs.
What’s on your Cape Cod playlist?