Back in the early days of MTV when they were searching madly for more videos to broadcast on the fledgling music channel, nearly anything could get a shot at being played which also meant that nearly anyone could get a shot at stardom. This opportunity didn’t really work out for bands like Romeo Void or The Dead Milkmen but hey, they did have a shot.
Other bands like Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, A Flock Of Seagulls and even Men At Work made their careers on those early MTV days. Some lasted longer than others of course but it was a wild and crazy time in the music biz and the artists that figured out the video angle quickly had a real chance of staying around for a while.
Other artists that had been around for years or in some cases decades were pretty slow to realize the power for sales and exposure that video offered, but in time they came around. They had to. Very quickly many European acts started shipping their videos off to MTV to - hopefully – be aired, (most were,) which was somewhat ironic as the European bands had been doing videos for years. (They were commonly shown in the discotheques as a normal part of their promotions going back to the early 70′s.)
Soon enough even the Canadians got into the act and joined the party. The first Canadian act to drop out of the Great White North into the video age was a guy who sounded pretty American. His music was pretty American too, some straight up rock n’ roll with all the required subject matter, girls, guitars and love.
And he wrote a pretty good hook.
Bryan Adams had been doing quite well in his native Canada before venturing south of the border. His first two albums had not really achieved much attention in the U.S. but in Canada, Adams was already a major star. His credibility in the music business was already strong enough that Bonnie Raitt and Kiss had co-written and recorded songs with Adams before the release of his third, and American breakthrough album, Cuts Like a Knife.
By 1984 and the release of Adams’ Reckless album, he had already made quite a splash on MTV and the radio. “Summer of 69″ was the fourth single from the album and was let loose on MTV and the radio just in time for the summer of 85′ becoming the fourth charting single of Adams 13 million selling album. In other words, a major hit.
“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′”
“Summer of 69′” is an enjoyable little romp through growing up while trying to start a band.
“Me and some guys from school
Had a band and we tried real hard
Jimmy quit, and Jody got married
should known we’d never get far.”
As Jimmy and Joey found out, it’s not easy doing both things. Music and a girlfriend. Now our singer finds his love – in a drive in.
“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’
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
Back in the summer of 69′”
It’s a pretty infectious tune with the twirling guitar lead giving “Summer of 69′” a fun bit of irreverence and innocence that really does sound like a guy telling the story of trying to make it as a band while still keeping the girlfriend happy.
Alas, it was not to be.
“And now the times are changing
Look at everything that’s come and gone
Sometimes when I play that old six-string
I think about you, wonder what went wrong.”
“Summer of 69′” is a nearly perfect pop rock record. It boils over with enthusiasm, the story is certainly not deep or “important,” it’s just a good bit of rock n’ roll storytelling. It doesn’t try to be anything more than that and – that’s a good thing.
Unfortunately, in the years following Adams’ two album adventure of young, brash and slightly immature rock n’ roll he returned once more with increasingly “serious” music. In other words, he started to get rather dull and eventually – annoying.
It’s difficult to believe that this guy, Bryan Adams, is the same Bryan Adams that inflicted on the world – with Mutt Lange of all people co-writing this drivel – “(Everything I Do) I Do For You” – from the equally appalling Kevin Costner movie, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Following that with “Have You Ever Really – really – really – Loved a Women” - with Mutt Lange again as co-writer? Really?
Bryan Adams should have stopped in oh, say about 1988 or so. Or at least changed his name or something. Everything after that just makes it hard to take the early stuff seriously.