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Afternoon Delights (of the Musical Variety)

Songs for a special time of day

"Afternoon Delight" — Starland Vocal Band (1976)

We had to start here, right? Thirty-five years after a guitar played by one of the band's studio musicians convincingly re-created the growl of "skyrockets in flight," we still can't shake the ear-worn harmonies of this tune about nooners.

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"Cecilia" — Simon and Garfunkel (1970)

This tale of an enchanting but capricious lover is as catchy and rhythmically compulsive a tune as Paul Simon ever wrote. The singsong melody sounds simple at first, but the syncopated handclaps and the occasional random vocal entry turn "Cecilia" into something more complex.

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"Groovin' " — The Young Rascals (1967)

The Young Rascals was one of the funkiest bands of the 1960s. That makes "Groovin' " — with its laid-back, conga-driven beat and its easy vocals — an anomaly. But underneath this tale of love in the afternoon lies enough soul that the song was later covered by Aretha Franklin.

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"Heathaze" — Genesis (1980)

The first half of this ballad captures the carefree feel of the best summer days. But the idyll can't last. The pressures of the adult world come crashing in along with Phil Collins's drums, leaving the singer adrift — "a stranger in an alien place," longing to reclaim that halcyon time of serenity.

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"It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" - Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffett (2003)

Pure, glorious escapism! As a July workday "passes like molasses in wintertime," the singer daydreams about cutting out and cutting loose. In classic country-music fashion, the consequences are noted, then embraced: "Tomorrow mornin' I know there'll be hell to pay / But that's all right."

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"Sunny Afternoon" — The Kinks (1966)

Did Ray Davies ever write a song without multiple layers? The chorus to this Kinks classic croons "I love to live so pleasantly / Live this life of luxury / Lazing on a sunny afternoon," but the verses explain that Britain's tax code had claimed all his money and his girlfriend had run off with his car.

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"Tuesday Afternoon" — The Moody Blues (1968)

The Moody Blues started out as an R&B group. By their second LP, Days of Future Passed, they had moved into progressive rock. "Tuesday Afternoon," the follow-up to their biggest hit, "Nights in White Satin," is lush and beautiful — just like these precious waning days of summer.

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Is there anything sweeter than a long, unscheduled afternoon stretching out before us? These classic songs with an afternoon theme will convince you there is not — unless it's listening to them with a special someone by your side (and a favorite frosty beverage at your elbow).

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Join us on our Message Boards to discuss the topic: What songs bring back memories for you?  For Betty, it's "'Ebb Tide,' the greatest ballad ever written, makes me mushy every time!" Perhaps "Afternoon Delight" or "Groovin'" in our slideshow reminds you of a particular time and place. Please tell us about it.

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