Scroll through country radio these days and you’re bound to hear a whistle by a foursome that’s as catchy as it is zestful. To say Little Big Town’s “Day Drinking,” with its whimsical hooks, is anything less than intoxicating (in more ways than one) would be an injustice.
The four members of the band, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet and Jimi Westbrook, knew early on that “Day Drinking” would be the first single off of their upcoming Pain Killer album after members of their management team had emphatic reactions.
“Our manager freaked out when he heard it,” Fairchild recalls.
“Our publisher did, too,” Sweet adds. “We were cautiously optimistic, so we underplayed it a little.”
The song, however, embraced everything about summer — sunshine, beaches, happiness, painfully long office days and, of course, a few beverages. In the spirit of their current single, Rolling Stone Country sat down with the group prior to a show in Las Vegas to go over their favorite summer anthems of all time. Listen to Little Big Town’s hand-picked, sun-soaked tracks via the Spotify playlist below, followed by their commentary on each song.
“Margaritaville,” Jimmy Buffett
“We like margaritas,” Fairchild says. “We make our own LBT-Rita. It’s beer and tequila together, but it will kick you on your you-know-what, so maybe it’s the memories of that song and the memories that you attach to it.”
“That’s such a laid back thing,” Westbrook adds. “Everybody has been trying to duplicate that song. The lyrics to that song, I love. It’s so memorable. That’s really the gold standard of summer songs.”
“Soak Up The Sun,” Sheryl Crow
“That is pure sunshine and pure summer,” says Schlapman. “When I think of that song, colors come into my brain, yellow and orange and all those bright, bold colors. She was hot in that video, too.”
“Crazy in Love,” Beyonce
“That’s song is just so badass,” Sweet says. “It has the groove that is just infectious.”
“She was making her mark with that one,” Fairchild echoes. “I remember those little daisy dukes she had on in the video. She’s the Queen B.”
“Toes,” Zac Brown
Schlapman’s fondness for this song goes beyond the lyrics to a much more personal place, her now 7-year-old daughter, Daisy. One of Daisy’s first sentences, Schlapman explains, was some of the chorus to “Toes.” “[Daisy] was barely two years old and just barely making sentences,” Schlapman recalls, “and she was there in her crib and she said, ‘Life is good today.'”
“Three Little Birds,” Bob Marley
“His spirit is so free, you can just feel it,” Sweet says. “It’s a laid back, groovy song. Of course, they were dealing with oppression and he was saying that everything is actually going to be all right. He’s happy for a reason.”
“That’s the kind of anthem you can only dream about writing,” Fairchild adds.
“Summer of ’69,” Bryan Adams
“That’s just good old rock & roll,” Sweet says. “It’s like comfort food.”
“Pontoon,” Little Big Town
“Is it bad that we name our own song?” Schalpman asks. Recalling a story about the lyrics of the song, Fairchild says, “Some mother came up to me and said, ‘Thanks for teaching my kid what motorboating is.’ I was like, that’s your problem.”
“Chattahoochee,” Alan Jackson
“We used to ‘shoot the hooch’ in Atlanta,” Fairchild remembers. “It’s basically inner tubing down the Chattahoochee River.”
“Summertime,” Will Smith
“That’s a good jam right there,” Fairchild declares.
“Sex on Fire,” Kings of Leon
“I remember the first time I heard that song. It was a rock and roll summer for me,” Sweet recalls. “We were on some sort of drive going on a road trip and I remember thinking, this sounds incredible. It was a huge summertime hit.”
“American Kids,” Kenny Chesney
“I think that’s going to be the big summer song at the tail end of this summer,” Fairchild predicts.