"Summer of '69," Annotated
At the height of the summer of '09, we at SparkNotes find ourselves thinking back to the summer of '69. Or, more accurately, we find ourselves thinking back to the Bryan Adams song of that name. (How old do you think we are, anyway?)
That tune came out in 1984—only 15 years removed from the dog days Bry-Ad was singing about. When he wrote it, the feel-good vibes of the Summer of Love were fresh on everyone's mind, and cell phones, DVR, and Facebook weren't even twinkles in Mark Zuckerberg's eye. Hard to imagine those Dark Ages, right? Let us help you out with a little translation:
I got my first real six-string
Bought it at the five and dime
Played it till my fingers bled
Was the summer of '69
In 1969, guitars had six strings, not five buttons. And you plugged them into an amplifier, not a game console. "Five and dime" is what dollar stores used to be called—they refer to nickels and dimes, which were once valuable enough to exchange for actual merchandise. Any "real" six-string you got at one of these stores is probably worth what you paid for it.
Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit, Jody got married
Should have known we'd never get far
Let's hope Jody (a boy's name back then) was the oldest member of the band...by a number of years. We knew people tended to tie the knot at an earlier age in those days, but still. Bryan Adams himself would have been ten years old at this time, okay?
Oh when I look back now
The summer seemed to last forever
And if I had a choice
Yeah, I'd always want to be there
Those were the best days of my life.
In 1969, there were no personal computers, no cell phones, no video games, and only four TV channels (all of which were showing the moon landing), and most places did not have central air conditioning. Not too hard to believe that this summer seemed to last forever.
Ain't no use in complaining
When you got a job to do
Spent my evenings down at the drive-in
And that's when I met you, yeah!
Before video stores—before even cable TV—drive-in movie theaters were considered the height in cinematic convenience. Back then it was a fantastic thing not to have to leave your car; nowadays, you don't have to leave your couch. Sure, you can say we've adavnced, but consider all that we've given up.
Standing 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
Apparently time itself was elastic at the end of the 1960s. "Forever" and "now or never" were approximately the same thing. Or maybe this is an example of "putting the moves on" someone, as they did back then.
Man we were killing time
We were the young and restless
We needed to unwind
I guess nothing can last forever…forever
Yes, they were killing time by stretching it on a rack. And no, nothing can last forever forever. But perhaps it can last forever briefly. Witness the fact that in 1969, the people on The Young and the Restless were still young.
Now how the times are changing
Look at everything that's come and gone
Sometimes when I play that old six-string
I think about you and what went wrong.
A list of things that have come and gone would have to include Bryan Adams's career. As for what went wrong, we blame that cheesy "Everything I Do" ballad he recorded for that terrible Robin Hood movie back in the 90s.
At this point in the song, the chorus begins to repeat itself. We'll wrap it up here. We hope you've learned something about our shared past and Bryan Adams' warped concept of time. Happy 40th birthday, summer of '69.
What are your favorite summer songs? Spill in the comments.