An anthem for kids who grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, Bryan Adams’s 1984 hit ‘Summer of 69’ is still a karaoke standard. But what’s the song really about? Here’s a round-up of some lesser-known facts about the song, which you will most definitely hear when he performs during his India tour next month.

Adams wrote the song with Jim Vallance in January 1984 for his album, Reckless. It’s really not about a summer in 1969, he says. 

“I think [‘Summer of ’69′ is] timeless because it’s about making love in the summertime. There is a slight misconception it’s about a year, but it’s not. ’69’ has nothing to do about a year, it has to do with a sexual position…At the end of the song, the lyric says that it’s me and my baby in a 69. You’d have to be pretty thick in the ears if you couldn’t get that lyric.” Source.

But his co-writer Vallance begs to differ.  He clarified that he was most definitely thinking about the unforgettable summer he turned 17 while writing the song.

“Bryan Adams is […] entitled to his recollections as to what inspired the song ‘Summer of ’69’. My recollections just happen to be different than his.” Source.

Vallance has been quoted saying: 

“First of all, when Bryan and I were writing the song, it was originally called ‘Best Days Of My Life.’ The words ‘summer of ’69’ only appeared once, right after ‘played it ’til my fingers bled’. That was it! The song really was about the summer of 1969!”

The song went through a number of musical and lyrical changes. At some point, they realised that ‘Summer Of ’69’ was a better title, and deliberately added the phrase in a few more places.

“When we recorded the demo in my basement, towards the end of the song Bryan sang a little naughty bit: ‘me and my baby in a ’69.’ We had a laugh about it at the time, and Bryan decided to keep it when he did the final recording a month or two later.” Source.

But it wasn’t until Adams started introducing the song at concerts saying, “This song has nothing to do with the year 1969”, that people noticed it.

Some of the lyrics were inspired by other songs.

According to Vallance, “I got my first real six string” was inspired by the line, “I bought a beat-up six-string in a second-hand store” from Foreigner’s ‘Juke Box Hero’.

The line “When you held my hand, I knew that it was now or never” came from The Beatles song, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.’

The writers’ also found inspiration in their own life experiences. The lyric about a band breaking up, “Jimmy quit, Jody got married”, was an allusion to their own high school bands.

Bryan Adams India
Bryan Adams

The Jody referred to in the song was Adams’s sound man Jody Perpik.

Who incidentally got married around the same time and appeared in the video with his wife – in a car with a ‘Just Married’ sign.

Adams always performs the song at his concerts.

Most times he only has to sing the first line before the audience takes over.

In a 2009 survey, it was found to be the UK’s favourite summer song of all time.

It beat Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’ by a narrow margin.


Watch Bryan Adams perform ‘Summer of 69’ and other hits in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Hyderabad this October.