♫ Summer of ’69 ♫

I have a double reason for playing this one tonight … nay, a triple reason!  One is our friend Keith Wilson who said, speaking of Bryan Adams, “‘Summer of ’69’ is probably my favorite of his because it seems autobiographical.”  Two is our friend Clive who, also speaking of Bryan Adams, said, “My favourites of his are ‘Summer Of ‘69’ and ‘Run To You’, not that you were asking 😉  And third, I rather like this song … if I didn’t, I wouldn’t likely play it here. 

Typically, I get most of the trivia and backstory for my songs from SongFacts and Wikipedia, but tonight I stumbled across an additional source for this song, an article from September 2018 on a website called bookmyshow.com titled “6 Facts We Bet You Didn’t Know About Bryan Adams’s ‘Summer of ’69’” that contains snippets from interviews with both Bryan Adams and the co-writer of this song, Jim Vallance.  The article is fascinating, but a bit too much in more ways than one (hint, don’t take your underage children to the site) for me to use as a lead-in for the song on this post.  I do urge you, if you’re interested, to go check it out at the above link.

Adams wrote this with the songwriter Jim Vallance, who wrote several Aerosmith songs and often collaborated with Adams. On his website, Vallance explains that the song went through a number of changes, and it was originally called Best Days Of My Life, with the line “Summer Of ’69” appearing just once in the lyrics. Vallance feels that the Jackson Browne song Running On Empty, which contains the lyrics, “In ’69 I was 21,” was a subconscious influence on their writing, and that Adams may have been influenced by the movie Summer Of ’42.

Adams had a few hits before this was released, his biggest being “Straight From The Heart,” but this song and the rest of the Reckless album made him a star. Vallance reflects:

“Looking back, I think ‘Summer Of ’69’ was Bryan and I at our best. We hadn’t had any real ‘success’ yet… that would come when Reckless went to #1 on the charts and sold 12 million copies… but that was a year away. In January 1984 Bryan and I were still writing songs for all the right reasons, for the pure love and joy of it. We had nothing to prove, and even less to lose. We wrote songs to please ourselves. Everything started to unravel after Reckless.”

According to Vallance, many of the lyrics were inspired by other songs:

  • “I got my first real six string” – from Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero and the line, “I bought a beat up six-string in a second-hand store.”
  • “Standin’ on your mama’s porch, you told me that you’d wait forever” – Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road and the line, “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves. Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays.”
  • “When you held my hand, I knew that it was now or never” – The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand.

This song made it to #5 in the U.S., #11 in Canada, and #42 in the UK.

Summer Of ’69
Bryan Adams

I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five-and-dime
Played it ’til my fingers bled
Was the summer of ’69

Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit, Jody got married
I should’ve known, we’d never get far

Oh, when I look back now
That summer seemed to last forever
And if I had the choice
Yeah, I’d always wanna be there
Those were the best days of my life

Ain’t no use in complainin’
When you’ve got a job to do
Spent my evenin’s down at the drive-in
And that’s when I met you, yeah

Standin’ on your mama’s porch
You told me that you’d wait forever
Oh, and when you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life

Oh, yeah!
Back in the summer of ’69, oh

Man, we were killin’ time
We were young and restless
We needed to unwind
I guess nothin’ can last forever
Forever, no!

And now the times are changin’
Look at everything that’s come and gone
Sometimes when I play that old six-string
I think about you, wonder what went wrong

Standin’ on your mama’s porch
You told me that it’d last forever
Oh, and when you held my hand
I knew that it was now or never
Those were the best days of my life

Oh, yeah!
Back in the summer of ’69
It was the summer of ’69
Oh, yeah!
Me and my baby in ’69

It was the summer
The summer
The summer of ’69

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Vallance James Douglas / Adams Bryan
Summer Of ’69 lyrics © Testatyme Music, Adams Communications Inc.

36 thoughts on “♫ Summer of ’69 ♫

  1. Thanks for playing this one, Jill. As well as being a great song it always reminds me of the time life changes saw me grow into a man, and I’ve written about that summer several times. I always felt that the UK short changed Bryan in the 80s, until THAT song came along in 1990 and made him a regular visitor to the top ten here.

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  2. Jill, thanks for the great back story. I was unaware of the other song references, but they make total sense now that you wrote about them. Since you reference the movie “Summer of ’42” I can guess the part you did not want young kids to see. More than a few adolescent boys like me had a crush on Jennifer O’Neill. Thanks again for sharing this. Keith

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