Watching the Summer Sun Fall Out of Sight

At EST. 1997 we’re fond of looking back. Nostalgia plays a big part in the music most of us like. Of course like most people, we also look forward to summer. When you’re young, school is out, and the pools and beaches are ripe for sun and fun. There’s a reason that in Sonnet 18 Shakespeare compared his love to a summer’s day and that F. Scott Fitzgerald set his seminal book The Great Gatsby in summer. In the first chapter of that book, narrator Nick Carraway says he “had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” Of course, all good things must come to an end. As the summer reaches its end, for teachers and children it means returning to school. There are plenty of nostalgic moments we want to keep living but cannot. There’s obvious symbolism there. A new school year means another year older. There is also a certain amount of openness that gets lost with each passing summer; what once burned bright is now left cold. That perhaps explains why there are so many good songs about summer love, several of which focus on the ending of a summer love.

 

1.  “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley
Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” was a top 5 hit back in 1984. Lyrically the song is about the passing of youth as the narrator recalls a past love whom he observes frolicking with the titular boys. The title of the song is a reference to the book of the same name which focuses on a group of baseball players in their prime. The narrator of the song is reminiscing on his lost love and can’t quite let her go. At the same time, the narrators tells himself, “don’t look back, you can never look back.” This sentiment is both echoed and contrasted in the 1989 film Say Anything when a character tells her graduating class she has glimpsed their future and they should all, “Go back.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtxlvQqvDQs
2.  “Endless Summer Nights” by Richard Marx
Richard Marx hit #2 in 1988 with this ode to a summer romance that seems to be ending. Like in “The Boys of Summer,” the narrator is reminiscing on a past romance that doesn’t burn as bright as it once did. Marx sings that they are, “searching for a way that we can be like we were before.”

3.  “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter
Deana Carter turned this into a #1 country song in 1996. The song describes a summer romance in which a female teenager who “was caught somewhere between a woman and a child” meets a boy and loses her innocence. She can never get it back, and the song furthers the symbolism of the seasons as the the bridge details the ending of summer and how “the fields have grown over now” and “there’s nothing time hasn’t touched.” Carter ultimately and directly wonders, “Is it really him or the loss of my innocence that I’ve been missing so much?”

4.  “Anything But Mine” by Kenny Chesney
Kenny Chesney took this song to #1 on the country chart in 2005. The lyric paints a picture of a summer fling in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The narrator and his girlfriend walk the boardwalk, visit the arcade, and dance the night away. In those moments, Chesney observes, “I don’t see how you could ever be anything but mine.” Ultimately the narrator is a little more knowing than that, though, as the couple in the song laugh because “we know it isn’t true” that they actually love one another.

5.  “We’re Going to Be Friends”  by the White Stripes
Summer ending doesn’t have to be completely negative. This song is directly about how “Fall is here” and notes the character are “back to school, ring the bell.” The narrator meets Suzy Lee and walks through the park with her. In the end he notes, “we are gonna be friends.” So, even if the end of summer means the end of good times with friends or even a young love, as one door closes, a new opens.

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