… Sounds like a Memory
June 23, 2020
Of all the seasons, summer is the one which seems to take us back to our youth. That sentiment is related, perhaps, to the provenance of children, whose best days happen when that school bell rings on the last day of classes. Ahead stretches a glorious few months of getting to play all day and curfews that seem to follow the long arc of light as it stretches into twilight.
For these reasons, I suppose, the summer solstice is an occasion to wax a bit nostalgic as we recall those childhood evenings playing kick the can until Dad yelled from the front door to come home. It was also the season for teenagers when evenings were spent with friends and, if one was lucky, perhaps a bit of romance was discovered.
Many a musical artist has captured that nostalgia but none, in my opinion, quite as effectively as Eric Church with his number one country hit “Springsteen” which topped that chart on June 23, 2012.
As always, the Infallible Wikipedia shares a bit of information:
“ ‘Springsteen’ received critical acclaim from many music critics. Billy Dukes of Taste of Country gave the song five stars out of five, calling it ‘the best song from one of 2011’s top country albums.’ Matt Bjorke of Roughstock also gave the song five stars of five, writing that ‘the strong, sing-a-long lyrics and driving, percussive melody brings Eric Church to an accessibility that he’s previously never had.’ Noah Eaton of Country Universe gave it an A-, saying that it is ‘a gorgeous, bittersweet anthem-to-be that will likely leave even some more hardened hearts simultaneously smile and cry listening.’ Eaton went on further to say that this song would propel Church’s career to the next level. American Songwriter chose the song for its Lyric of the Week feature, for the week of June 11, 2012. The song was nominated for two Grammy Awards – Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song – on December 12, 2012, but failed to win any of the awards at the ceremony in 2013.
Thom Jerek of AllMusic said the song had ‘a clever, if somewhat cloying, tune, but it gets the feeling across in spades.’ The A.V. Club reviewer Steven Hyden claims that Church ‘is just as effective on slower, more thoughtful songs like ‘Springsteen’ and that the song ‘[reflects] reflecting on music’s power to revive forgotten emotions from the past.’
Bruce Springsteen himself took note of Church’s music, specifically the song ‘Springsteen’, and wrote Church a note on the back of a setlist. Church received the letter from Springsteen after a show on August 19, 2012. In the note, Springsteen explained his and his family’s love of the song and that he hoped to have their paths cross at some point. Church was surprised when receiving the note and said that ‘it’s a long note, takes up the entire back page of this setlist for a show that lasted three hours and 47 minutes.’”
Between the ennui inducing lyrics and the memorable tune, Church’s song sounds as fresh as it did twelve years ago. He nailed it in the refrain with these lyrics:
Church, like so many great songwriters, based his song on a relationship he had. It wasn’t a Springsteen song which provided the actual music, however. That, to the best of my knowledge, is a well kept secret. From the SongFacts website:
“Church told Reuters this is his favorite song from Chief (his third album). He explained: ‘I lived that song. I was 15 years-old and she was 16. We had that love affair where you connect with someone, and the artist that was playing becomes a soundtrack to your relationship. We didn’t stay together, but to this day, when I hear Bruce Springsteen, I think of her and I hope she thinks of me.’”
A few weeks ago, my blog was about the radio (https://barbaradevore.com/2020/06/02/like-a-song-on-the-radio) and how important that was to the teenagers of my era. We listened for many an hour in hopes of hearing our favorite songs over and over and over. It was inevitable, then, that there are songs which instantly transport us back to another place and time; songs which are associated with events and the people who were significant to us then.
When you walk outside some evening this summer – and look up at the lingering colors in the fading light – perhaps you, too, will recall a melody which sounds like a memory to you, like a soundtrack from a July Saturday night.
And a couple of links: