The Songs of Summer Day 11: ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes’
I’m not the world’s biggest Springsteen fan…in fact, I’m not even sure I’d call myself a Springsteen fan at all. I’m familiar with all the big hits, and a lot of his early work is pretty cool, but I own only one Springsteen song (and that’s in digital form only), and that’s this one right here. ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes.’
This song was released back in 2007 on Bruce’s ‘Magic‘ album, but I didn’t hear it until several years later on satellite radio. When I did first hear it, I thought it was a track from one of his earlier 70’s albums, as it features the very Phil Spector-ish ‘Wall of Sound’ production he used on those early albums. It doesn’t sound like a song from 2007; it sounds like a perfect summer song. A lot of the songs on ‘Magic’ deal with the disillusionment with the state of America in the Bush years (amen to that), and the effects of the war in Iraq, but ‘Girls’ is a much lighter, breezier look at something much more precious: Summer.
The lyrics of the song at first seem like Bruce is singing about the perfect summer days (and nights) along the Jersey shore…
“Well the street lights shine
Down on Blessing Avenue
Lovers they walk by
Holdin’ hands two by two
A breeze crosses the porch
Bicycle spokes spin ’round
Jacket’s on, I’m out the door
Tonight I’m gonna burn this town down
And the girls in their summer clothes
In the cool of the evening light
The girls in their summer clothes….”
And then he hits you with this: “…pass me by.”
Ouch. This song with the perfect wall of sound production and with the wistful lyrics about summer on the shore is really just Springsteen singing about someone, (him?), as a young kid who’s only dreaming of how much better summer would be, if only those girls in their summer clothes didn’t pass him by…if only they’d stop and notice him, talk to him, hell even just flash him a smile. He’s had love in his past, and damn, he just wants it back…
And it’s not only the lack of female companionship keeping this kid down, but to his credit, he’s eternally optimistic:
“Downtown the store’s alive
As the evening’s underway
Things been a little tight
But I know they’re gonna turn my way”
If I had to name just one song to listen to about summer, it would have to be this. I love the way it sounds, I love the way it describes the ideal summer, as sung by someone who’s taking it all in, but is wishing and hoping for the time when he’s got a girl on his side, and a wallet full of cash, to make it that much better, and doggone it, he’s gonna get there. Hopefully. It’s so good. Songs like this should be Top 10 hits, played on radios in cars and on the beach, all summer long… But it isn’t. It’s kind of a hidden Springsteen gem, and I thank the Lord above for whoever it was that chose to play it on satellite radio for me to discover.
From 2007, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, from the album Magic, here’s ‘Girls in Their Summer Clothes.’ I’d like to think that some special girl eventually did stop passing by the song’s narrator, and that they fell in love, and spent many happy summers together, in the cool of the evening light.