Today’s singer got an unlikely writing assist on this song from Tom Petty’s longtime bandmate, Mike Campbell. Campbell often wrote the music for Tom Petty songs and then let Petty add in the lyrics and melody. He demoed the track that would become today’s song and Petty Passed because he didn’t like non traditional rock sounds like synthesizers.
Despite the title, the song is NOT about sun, surf, and all the rest, Instead, it is of a man clinging to a lover who has left him in the cold just as the season is changing.
The title of the song is from Roger Kahn’s famous book about the Brooklyn Dodgers and used it to represent everything youthful and vibrant that the singer feels is no longer within his reach.
One of the most memorable lines in the song is the narrator’s observation in the final verse: “Out on the road today I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac.” For those who were wondering, yes, it actually happened to him!
He explained “I was driving down the San Diego freeway and just got passed by a $21,000 Cadillac Seville, the status symbol of the Right-wing upper-middle class…and there was this Grateful Dead ‘Deadhead’ bumper sticker on it!’
The Ataris did a pop-punk cover of this song in 2003, when that sound was big. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, who, again, wrote the song, had some thoughts on their version:
"I like it a lot. My son's 15, he has a punk band and he was excited about it. I thought it took some [guts] to try that song, it's not a song you expect a young band like that to do, but I kind of like their version of it...I like the way the guy sang it, they changed one lyric and I thought that was cool. I heard it on the radio three times in one day and I got kind of excited about it."
In The Ataris version, instead of saying "I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac" they say "I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac." Black Flag is a hardcore punk band that Henry Rollins fronted.
I think we might like the original just a little bit more...Don Henley...The Boys of Summer...I Know That Song