Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69” Lyrics Meaning

Over the years, Bryan Adams’ classic “Summer of ’69” has been interpreted in a couple of different ways. One is that the number featured in the title, considering it has an apostrophe and all, is actually a reference to the year 1969. The other is that it is about bedroom fun, and “69” actually alludes to a popular bedroom fun act by the same name. Indeed both of these theories have merit, with the song’s co-writer, Jim Vallance, supporting the first theory and Bryan Adams the second.

In fact Adams would have only been nine-years old in 1969. So even though this track does have a nostalgic feel, it is not centered on the singer’s early childhood. Rather, what he reminiscences on is meeting a certain lady, with both of them being “young and restless” and ‘needing to unwind’. And based on what we already discussed in the first paragraph and indeed the very title of this track, you already know where this is going.

But the song is not entirely about fun in the bedroom. For instance, Bryan references a couple of his professional co-workers, “Jimmy” and “Jody”.  Though in keeping with the overall teenage motif of the track, he rather refers to them as some dudes he played in a band with in high school. But even these shoutouts are ultimately leading to the true story of the song, which is centered on a romance the singer enjoyed in his youth. In fact said (romantic) relationship was so memorable that he considers the particular summer in which it occurred ‘the best days of his life’.

Lyrics of "Summer of '69"

Conclusion

So conclusively, both Adams and Vallance are correct concerning the meaning of this song, despite their definitions seeming to contrast each other. On one hand, it is based on a specific year, as in a certain period of time, which is dubbed the “summer of ’69”. And on the other it is very much about sensual fun, albeit not being forthrightly so. In other words, what made the “summer of ‘69” so memorable in the first place was that the singer was engaged in a very-enjoyable, intimate relationship.

Facts about “Summer of ’69”

A&M Records released “Summer of ‘69” on 17 June 1985. It served as the fourth single from Adams’ breakthrough album “Reckless”.

Bryan Adams wrote the song alongside his long-term collaborator, Jim Vallance.

The two of them composed the track, which was actually completed in January of 1984, in Jim Vallance’s basement studio.

The original name of the song was “Best Days of My Life”. And it went through a number of changes before becoming the track we know, enjoy and love today.

Adams also produced “Summer of ‘69”, in conjunction with Bob Clearmountain.

Certain lyrics in “Summer of ‘69” were derived from a few other classic songs, which are Jukebox Hero (1981) by Foreigner, “Thunder Road” (1975) by Bruce Springsteen and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963) by the Beatles.

A very successful classic

“Summer of ‘69” has won a number of awards and achieved quite a few milestones, especially in Bryan Adams’ homeland of Canada.

And in terms of its charts performance, “Summer of ‘69” initially peaked at number 42 on the UK Singles Chart and number 5 on America’s famed Hot 100. 

Indeed the song performed well internationally, also breaking the top 10 in Belgium, New Zealand and Norway. Moreover the track continued to chart throughout the decades, reaching number 4 on the Dutch Top 40 in 1990 and making additional appearances on the UK Singles Chart in 2006, 2007 and 2008. 

Indeed “Summer of ‘69” is now considered to be Bryan Adams’ signature (i.e. most-streamed) track.

Why “Summer of ’69” wasn’t very successful in the United Kingdom

It’s a fact that this classic didn’t perform as well in the UK as it did in other places like the United States. Adams attributed its relatively low position on the UK Singles Charts the first time around to just one thing – the BBC. According to him, BBC Radio 1 refused playing the song. Had they played it, “Summer of ’69” would have been mega successful in Britain. At least that’s what Adams believes.

Did “Summer of ’69” win a Grammy Award?

No. Despite being a critically acclaimed and very successful song, it wasn’t even nominated for a Grammy. However, its album “Reckless” received a nomination at the 28th Annual Grammy Awards held in 1986. “Reckless” was nominated in the “Best Male Vocal Performance” category. However, Don Henley’s classic “The Boys of Summer” won the award at the end of the day.

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