Every single one of us have a specific time from our childhoods that often springs into our minds. That moment in time is often attached to a place, feeling or person that brings about all the nostalgic feels whenever we think about it. For Bryan Adams, it was the summer of 1969, or so many of us thought.
The Canadian-born rocker penned the hit song “Summer of ’69” for his fourth album, Reckless, which was released in 1984. People quickly took to the song because of Adams’s storytelling and the strong theme of nostalgia.
Adams later explained that he was inspired by the “cultural revolution” that was going on at the time, including the Beatles disbanding, the moon landing, and his foray into music, hence the lyrics “I got my first real six-string…Played it ’til my fingers bled.”
Still, many were still wondering why the lyrics seemed to be about Adams reminiscing about a love interest.
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
Well, it took a couple of decades, but both Adams and the song’s co-writer Jim Vallance, finally provided some explanation for how the song came to be, and what the lyrics really mean.
They both have different interpretations of the song, so you can be the judge after you hear both sides.
According to Vallance, the song is exactly what we think it’s about: nostalgia.
“In our first draft of the song, the lyric ‘summer of ’69’ appears only once, never to be repeated. It wasn’t the title, it was just another line in the song,” he revealed. “Maybe he [Adams] was thinking about something completely different…but I was thinking about that amazing summer when I turned 17,” admitted Vallance.
“There were brand new vinyl albums released by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Kinks, Janis Joplin, The Band. It was awesome and I’ll never forget it.”
But Adams had a completely different explanation, and it’s what we all suspected the song is about. Firstly, the timeline of the song didn’t make sense because Adams would’ve only been 10 years old in 1969. Secondly, the end of the song, where he sings, “Me and my baby in sixty-nine,” seemed to be a sexual innuendo of sorts.
He confirmed many people’s suspicions while appearing on The Early Show in 2008.
“I think [“Summer of ’69” is] timeless because it’s about making love in the summertime,” Adams confessed. “There is a slight misconception it’s about a year, but it’s not. “69” has nothing to do about a year, it has to do with a sexual position…At the end of the song, the lyric says that it’s me and my baby in a 69. You’d have to be pretty thick in the ears if you couldn’t get that lyric.”
Even after Adams’s admission, Vallance continued to deny the fact that the song was about sex. However, he did agree that Adams’s last minute addition to lyrics was indeed a sexual innuendo, but it was meant as an inside joke.
“All I can say is: as I remember it, when we were writing the song, just the two of us, at no point did we discuss implied meanings or inferences,” Vallance said in an email to Rule Forty Two. “I admit, there’s a naughty bit at the very end, but it was a 3-second, improvised afterthought. It’s not the whole song. Never was.”