When we think of the music of the early 80’s, we tend to think of glitz and glamour as it was the height of the MTV era. But there were songs that were able to break through all that flash with some actual substance. Today’s song is one of them.
Today’s band came out of the burgeoning Los Angeles punk scene and released their first album in 1979. This song ties with this band's previous hit, "Only The Lonely," for their highest-charting single at number 9 and it’s kind of a haunting song about the loss of innocence written by the group’s lead singer Martha Davis, who the song took her ten years to write.
“I was just sitting in the backyard of the little house I bought after my parents died...and it was a beautiful sunny day…” she remembered. “It was the end of summer. All of the sudden this ice cold wind comes out. You know winter is right around the corner...and even though the sun is shining, there’s a coldness to it. And then I heard the ice cream truck. I thought that’s probably the last time I’m going to hear that ice cream truck.”
All of the pieces she had experienced ten years earlier were just coming together in this one song. She explained, “I’ve never had that happen before or since. It just goes to show that all of the song fodder is these experiences in your life, stowed away in memory nooks and various places, and they decide at the time they will make themselves eminent.”
One thing that frustrated certain people when this song came out, was how mysterious it was! It’s a song that leaves us wondering what exactly happened last summer?
According to Martha Davis, that open ended feeling was intentional. “It was never a specific relationship that inspired the song, but something more complex.”
She leaves it there and hopes people will just have to take the song for what it is and let it be this indefinite haunting homage to the bittersweet feelings that often come with the changing seasons.
The Motels...Suddenly Last Summer...I Know That Song