The Five Worst Songs to Play at a Summer Barbecue


Sometimes a single mistake will teach you more than 10 good decisions. In that spirit, as the weather finally warms up, here’s a sampler of five tracks that should only be played at your outdoor gathering if you’re trying to get people to pick up their stuff and go home.

Hurt | Johnny Cash

I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
the only thing that’s real

If this Trent Reznor cover doesn’t kill the vibe at your summer BBQ, you’re either enjoying the best party of the year, or you’re actually hanging out at a Satanic funeral.

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For | Negativland

“I have run… I have crawled… I have scaled these city walls! Yeah, that’s really great! I can’t believe I did it, but nevertheless I have done that for you, only to be with you. Yeah, with you — the fat one, that’s it. You’re the fat one, and I want to be with you. But on the other hand, I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

Guaranteed to bring all conversations to a baffled stand-still. Flat out brilliant, but not socially productive.

Tar Pit | Wu-Tang Clan

A masterful hip hop classic guaranteed to float majestically in the background sounding incredibly cool and chilled out right up until the end, when George Clinton does his 90-second-long a capella solo outro about putting his foot up your ass. Particularly bad if there are small children in attendance.

Christmas Time is Here (Vocal) | The Vince Guaraldi Trio

As correct as Guaraldi might be for November through January, he’s criminally wrong for warm weather and the outdoors. Spin this kid-chorused Christmas classic at your own peril.

Murder in the Red Barn | Tom Waits

Supposedly clocking in at a mere 4 minutes 29 seconds, this gravel-voiced plague-sick sloth of a track seemingly contains 20-30 minutes of detail about “an axe with bloodstains” and “the raven’s nest in the rotted roof.” Aren’t red barns supposed to be fun, Tom Waits? Think hoedowns and meat raffles.


Making a list of five best summer BBQ tracks is too arbitrary and too easy, but how about:

5. When You Were Mine | Prince
4. Concrete Schoolyard | Jurassic 5
3. Where is My Mind? | Pixies
2. Take Me Home | Brother Ali
1. Pressure Drop | Toots and the Maytals


  1. Cider Joe

    Here are 5 good ones:

    Hung Up with Summer – Big Star
    Summertime – Josh Rouse
    Sun Down – Wes Montgomery
    Here Comes the Sun – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
    Sunlight – Matt Pond PA

  2. Henri Vasnier

    Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys
    (in a category all by itself)

    L.A. Woman – The Doors (or the Billy
    Idol version, whichever you prefer)

    In the Still of the Night – The 5 Satins

    Dixie Chicken – Little Feat
    (perfect barbecue song)

    and what’s a summer BBQ
    without the national anthem:
    My Girl – The Temptations

  3. Stan

    Hey guys, if you like barbecue music let me tell ya a good one, ANDREW’S WELL KNOWN BARBECUE, search in youtube, definitely the best barbecue song I’ve ever heard in my 40 years of barbecuing and exhistence. You gotta check da out!!!! Sounds even better if you eat ribs (or pork chops) while listening.

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