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Summertime is the season of lowered standards. You eat hot dogs; you wear cargo shorts; you watch stupid blockbusters with lots of explosions (okay, that last has turned into a year-round passtime). And you listen to dance music and arena rock, stuff that won’t make you think too much because summer (school’s out!) is especially the season when thinking is overrated.

This is a great song, but it will never be accused of making anyone think too much. Consider the first verse:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves 
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: 
All mimsy were the borogoves
Straight from the heart

 

Okay that’s not an exact transcription but it might as well be (try it, it scans to the tune!). Because the words don’t make much sense anyway: he tells us he’s separated from the lover (“you’re gone”) but also that he’ll “never go.” Stalker!

Or maybe she’s not real and he’s just dreaming her? Which would sort of undercut the absolutely killer chorus which I will not type out here or else I will have to get up on the kitchen table with a lighter and sing it, and I’m not sure if I still own a lighter. Rest assured it is perfect and for me at least summons languid summer days and nighttime rides home on back roads with a mouth bruised up from kisses goodbye.

(The song was actually released in the winter, February 1983. It hit #10 on the US charts and #1 in Canada, and it wasn’t even the first version and Bryan Adams didn’t even write it, though he contributed enough during his rerecording to snatch a co-write credit.There are many live versions on YouTube, some offkey but that doesn’t seem to matter to the audience screaming along. A lot of comments in Spanish on those YouTube videos. Bryan must have a large Latino following.)

I first heard this blasting from the speakers at the end of a Bruce Springsteen show and you know what? It held its own. That yearning voice! That key change! Take another listen if you haven’t heard it in a while, preferably with a beer in hand and sand underfoot. But be sure you’re close enough to your music source to turn it off before the execrable “Summer of ’69” comes on next.

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