Ten years ago, I spent my summer working at an outdoor pool as a lifeguard in one part of the city, I was teaching private swimming lessons in another part of the city, and I was living in yet another part of the city, none of which were close to each other, and as such, I spent a lot of time in my car during that time. But I didn’t care, because back then gas was cheap, I loved my job, and for the first time in my life I had my own car in which I could get around, and I relished this new found independence. Even better, the weather that summer was gorgeous, and I got to spend the majority of my days in my bathing suit, so all in all, life was pretty awesome. My car was a 1980 clunker worth barely $500, meaning that the luxury of even a cassette player was not to be, so I turned to the radio for entertainment during those many hours on the road. If a band or singer had a hit on popular radio during the summer of 2003, I’m willing to bet I heard it at least several hundred times.
One song in particular became my personal favourite, and I would eagerly wait for the radio to play it every time I jumped into my car. The Ataris’ cover of “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley was a huge hit at the time, and I heard it several times a day, week in and week out. However, unlike all of the other hits of the day, I never tired of hearing this song. The rocking guitar riffs, the thumping rhythm, and the wistful lyrics about a lost summer romance, all came together to create my song of the summer, and I would blast it as loud as the tiny speakers in my car would allow.
Fast forward a decade, and the other day I was driving down the highway on a gorgeous sunny day when my ipod shuffle setting landed on “The Boys of Summer”. I hadn’t heard the song in quite some time, but it was amazing how I was instantly transported back to that summer ten years ago. All I could do was smile as I remembered all those days driving down the highway with every window down, sitting in my bathing suit, singing along with the blaring music at the top of my lungs. I’ve often marvelled at the ability of music to capture a specific moment in time, and how these moments tend to create a soundtrack for your life. For those three months in 2003, “The Boys of Summer” was my soundtrack, my anthem, and my song.
Ten years is a long time, and life has taken me up, down, and all around the world in the years since, but for those 4 minutes and 18 seconds the other day, I was reminded what it was like to be a teenager on the cusp of adulthood; carefree, hopeful, and ready to take on the world. Although my soundtrack since then has been extraordinarily varied, I hope I never lose the youthful optimism of that summer, and I suppose that so long as I have “The Boys of Summer”, I never will.