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Memorial Day Playlist for a Cookout or Workout

Marcelle has a degree in journalism. She is also a certified spin instructor, where she shares her passion for fitness and music.

These 15 songs should be on your Memorial Day playlist!

These 15 songs should be on your Memorial Day playlist!

Memorial Day Workout Songs

On Memorial Day, we pause to remember the men and women who died while serving our great nation. For anyone who has grown up in the military community, as I have, this day has special significance as we honor those heroes who gave up their lives. Along with remembrance, this holiday unofficially marks the first day of summer, with cookouts, celebrations, and pools opening across the country.

As a certified spin instructor, I know that an important part of a great indoor cycling class is music that motivates and perhaps inspires. Here I share 15 songs from my Memorial Day cycle playlist filled with songs celebrating summer, heroes, memories, and of course, the U.S.A. Enjoy!

15. "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." by John Mellencamp (1985)

There is nothing like a rocking patriotic song to get you warmed up for a workout or cookout. Influenced by songs from the 1960s, this 1985 song was a top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The music video features a short talk from the rocker himself on the virtues of 60's music.

Workout: Get warmed up with this quick and energy-packed tune.

14. "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves (1983)

This 1983 hit has been covered so many times, including a country version from Dolly Parton. It’s been featured in numerous movies, commercials, and video games.

Workout: Use this upbeat song to set a fast pace for a workout and even add in little bursts right on the chorus.

13. "Party in the U.S.A." by Miley Cyrus (2009)

Perfect for hosting a launch of a summer party, this tune hit the number two mark on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2009. See the music video pay homage to the 1978 movie Grease.

Workout: This song works great for climbing a giant hill on an indoor cycle, adding more tension as you go.

12. "Soak Up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow (2002)

This 2002 song peaked at number one on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart. Shot in Hawaii, the video features vacationers frolicking on the beach and surf.

Workout: On an indoor cycle, this is great for a moderate hill with runs on the chorus. Alternately, you could walk a hill, maybe on a treadmill, and run uphill on the chorus.

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11. "Twisting by the Pool" by Dire Straits (1983)

Perfect for pool opening day! This 1983 song broke away from Dire Straits' more relaxed style of songs.

Workout: Do some "jumps" on an indoor cycle here (moving in and out of the saddle relatively quickly with moderate tension).

10. "We’re an American Band" by Grand Funk Railroad (1973)

This classic rock song from 1973 became the band’s first number-one single. It was originally released on transparent gold vinyl.

Workout: It’s a great hill climb for indoor cycling with runs on the chorus. It works well on a running playlist too.

9. "My Hero" by Foo Fighters (1998)

On Memorial Day, we honor our fallen heroes. Dave Grohl has said this powerful 1998 single is dedicated to all heroes.

Workout: I use it for jumps on a hill in my class. Find a heavy hill gear and use the strength of your legs to propel you out of the saddle to a standing climb position. Pedal quickly for several rotations and then sink back to the saddle for a moment and repeat.

8. "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry (1970)

This song celebrates laid-back summer days that are just beginning this weekend. It was the band's first single and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973. Check out the singer's extensive lamb chops and the use of a large glass jug to create the necessary song effects.

Workout: I often add a 30–60-second rest in the middle of a cycle workout. This song is perfect for this!

7. "Surfin’ U.S.A." by the Beach Boys (1963)

The Beach Boys are well known for their great summer tunes, so why not include this song on your patriotic playlist? The Steve Allen Show broadcast the debut of this peppy single just before its release in 1963.

Workout: This is another song that I use for jumps for my cycle class.

6. "When I’m Gone" by 3 Doors Down (2003)

This thundering single peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2003. The music video features the band performing this song live for soldiers on the U.S.S. George Washington in the Mediterranean Sea.

Workout: This is perfect for a slow hill climb on a cycle with some running attacks on the chorus.

5. "American Girl" by Tom Petty (1977)

Although a well-known song, it never hit the United States charts when it was released in 1977. Rolling Stone did, however, rank it number 76 on “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.”

Workout: This song works perfectly for a fast flat road in cycling, running, or even a fast-paced walk.

4. "Boys of Summer" by the Ataris (2003)

Don Henley won a Grammy Award with this summer single in 1986. The Ataris made it a hit charting cover, peaking at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2003.

Workout: In my cycle class, I use this song often for a fast flat, and it works well in this summer theme. Use it for a run too!

3. "America" by Neil Diamond (1980)

Neil Diamond’s inspiring and patriotic song harkens to the history of United States immigration. Released as part of The Jazz Singer soundtrack, this 1980 single peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.

Workout: Run to this powerful song or use it for a cycle hill climb with frequent runs.

2. "Summer of ’69" by Bryan Adams (1985)

Get your summer party guests singing along to this rocking tune that also deserves a place on a "guilty pleasures" playlist. This MTV-era song peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985. The video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.

Workout: For an indoor cycling class, this song works well both for a fast flat ride and a light hill with runs. It’s a great song for running too!

1. "Born in the U.S.A." by Bruce Springsteen (1984)

Probably the best-known single for Bruce Springsteen from 1984, Rolling Stone ranked it 275th on “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Although it is often taken as purely patriotic, the lyrics speak to the negative effects of the Vietnam War. The music video features an awesome and passionate on-stage performance from the Boss.

Workout: This tune is perfect for a strong hill climb with runs.

More Playlists for Special Events


Garry on March 22, 2019:

My dad's name is on the Wall in D.C.

Anyone who thinks Memorial Day is a time to "party" or "rock out" doesn't understand the meaning of the day.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on May 22, 2014:

I probably need to do a workout myself sometime, thanks for the info!

Marcelle Bell (author) on May 22, 2014:

Thank you, Suzanne! I love that song too. I just love music in general, which is part of the reason I decided to take up teaching indoor cycling classes. I love to write about both too.

Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on May 22, 2014:

Some great songs to cheer you up here! "Walking on sunshine" takes me back a few decades every time I hear it. Voted useful!

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