Bryan Adams – “Summer Of ’69”

Not much is known about Canada. It lies to the north of the USA, shrouded in forests and sparsely populated. Its primary export is logs. Its people keep themselves to themselves, stoically going about their business in a quiet, undemonstrative way; paying their taxes ungrudgingly, and voting for moderate political parties. It would be mysterious were it not so completely uninteresting.

Bryan Adams - Summer Of '69

Bryan Adams – Summer Of ’69

Until 1977, no famous or noteworthy people had ever come from Canada. Doubtless this state of affairs would have continued were it not for the accidental delivery of a guitar (originally destined for Detroit, USA) to Ontario. The natives were confused by this strangely shaped item, and relegated it to the back of a local Five & Dime store. It would have languished there for all eternity where it not for lucky happenstance.

For it came to pass that a young Bryan Adams was sent to the store to purchase clothes pegs for his mother. Instead, in a scenario not unlike that in Jack and the Beanstalk, he bought the guitar. As with Jack, the initial ire of Bryan’s mother was ill-placed, for untold riches were to follow. For Bryan was blessed with a God-given ability to write bland, but catchy mid-paced rawk anthems, the like of which are in constant rotation on drivetime radio and everywhere else on earth endlessly for all eternity, garnering countless millions in earnings.

I read recently with a mixture of despair and violent envy that Sting still earns about £2,000 a week from airplays of the 28 year old song, Every Breath You Take in the US alone.  That’s just ONE of his countless hits in ONE country.

I often fantasise about being as rich as Sting. Like Sting, I would live in a golden castle with a pygmy militia, own my own rainforest, dress in bejewelled panda fur, drive an armoured Aston Martin and bathe in asses’ milk. Unlike Sting, I would also have an Elton John style hair-weave, partake of regular liposuction and wouldn’t marry Trudi Styler.

Bryan Adams exhibits none of the vulgar affectations adopted by me and Sting. His face is blandly rugged and slightly cratered, like Canada itself. His jaw line is firm, with a hint of the stoicism and uncomplaining resolve of his fellow countrymen. He is handsome in an instantly forgettable, generic way. Perpetually clad in plaid lumberjack shirts and straight jeans, he has the appearance of someone who has just walked from his pick-up into a gas station to buy 20 Marlboro after a hard day herding moose.

Summer Of ’69 is one of Bryan’s many generic rawk hits. I have never voluntarily listened to it, but it is more familiar to me than my own mother’s face. Every single word of the lyrics has been laser-etched onto the back of my retinas.

It would seem that no context is inappropriate for Summer Of ’69. Places I have heard the song recently include:

  • a French restaurant
  • whilst crossing the finish line of marathon
  • a funeral
  • whilst buying dusters

1969 was an epochal year. Rupert Murdoch bought the News Of The World. Jan Palak set himself on fire. Men landed on the moon. British troops arrived in Northern Ireland. Youth sprang free of its chains and cavorted through the summer of love at Woodstock Festival. The Vietnam war ground on. At home, I crawled away from my mother, towards the television screen.

All of this was of little concern to the young Bryan. In Summer Of ’69 we learn that the things that had the most significance, that conferred upon him the greatest happiness he has ever known, were that he:

  • bought a guitar
  • was in a band
  • had a job
  • kissed a girl, on a porch

all summarised in the air-punching, lager-aloft, all-together-now line, ‘those were the best days of my life’.

The sentiment expressed here is, prima facie, an elegiac one, namely, that one’s best days are past; that youth is wasted on the young; that one subsists through the complexity of adulthood in reverie for a lost Arcadia.

However, let us not forget that Bryan is Canadian. Self-pity is not in his genetic makeup. Rather I think what Bryan is trying to say is that you should be happy with your lot; you don’t need the bejewelled panda fur boots, beauty can be found in the mundane.  Or to borrow a phrase from a play I attended earlier this year, it’s not about the moments in life, it’s the life in the moments.

I’m not sure about the bleeding fingers, mind.


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