Suddenly Last Summer

Today I made a quick stop into our local Safeway grocery store, and while in line to check out, a familiar old song came on the store’s canned music channel.

The song was “Suddenly Last Summer,” one I remember well from a sometimes solitary period in my music enjoyment as I branched out from the music of my early adulthood. In this same period (1983-ish), I also encountered the influence of the new wave bands I heard through that mixed group of longtime friends from St. Norbert and cool new pals from St. Vital, otherwise known as “friends 2.0.” (An earlier post and the links in it will help explain that title and period a little.)

I savoured the music that I discovered on my own at the time, as that somehow felt like it helped me develop my individuality. Finding new music was often the result of various factors that involved serendipity: hearing new stuff in records stores, at nightclubs, or while listening to late-night radio (like CBC’s Brave New Waves and Night Lines programs), mostly at home as I don’t remember listening to FM radio much when out and about.

The Berkeley, California band The Motels formed in 1978 (though an earlier iteration of the group dates back to 1971). In 1982-1983 they achieved success with their singles “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer,” and as with so much music from that time, hearing the latter song today took me back to a kaleidoscope of memories as a young twenty-something trying to find my way in the world.

No one else I knew at the time seemed to pay attention to the band, though eventually, their singles brought them some prominence.

“Suddenly Last Summer” comes from Little Robbers (1983), The Motels’ fourth album. The record was the culmination of a few years filled with the chaos of an intra-band relationship, several personnel changes, their label’s rejection of a previous album, and a manager’s firing. The latest configuration of the band, now known as Martha Davis and the Motels, is still active.

I occasionally hear today’s selection played on KEXP Seattle, another of my favourite radio stations.

Hearing about personal tragedy affecting someone close to Sweety and me today, I was struck by the word “suddenly” in the song, while standing in the Safeway check-out line. That has influenced much of the rest of my day, reinforcing the knowledge that life is so fragile and can suddenly be changed irrevocably in a moment. I am that much more grateful for long phone conversations today with my lads, as always.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here’s the audio for the song from The Motels’ official YouTube channel:

Full, unofficial lyrics are available courtesy of AZLyrics.com.

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