Everyone hates the fact that summer is brief and fall comes upon us much too quickly. In 1966,The Happenings had something to say about that common complaint.' See You in September” is actually rather cheery, with a narrator who says he will pass this way again and enjoy another summer vacation with whomever he's talking to. The best bud, a girlfriend, or boyfriend, straight, gay or cordial, the specifics don't matter in this slight recitation because the background the lyrics set up is the wishful thinking optimism of an earlier time when some pop music was innocent intentionally and meant to shield a listener for three minutes or less against the cultural convulsions that were about to dominate the 60s.
Unlike the Happenings, who took the end of summer as a matter of life and fully expected to have the same kind of fun in the summer still ahead of them. Fully optimistic and even cheerful with the farewells to the friend they will see again. The Doors, on the other hand, were grim, gloomy, moody, sullen and maybe a hint sexy for the 14-17 year olds so eager to see through the veil and get some truth. The end of summer was…the end. A recurring theme with these gentlemen. The Doors also rued the end of summer and the drowsily droned baritone, fashioned by Jim Morrison, wrote a song that made it seem as if this were the end of the world. Many have opined that this was a tune about the loss of youth and innocence and the eventual entrance into adulthood. Perhaps it is on some level, but the level is shallow and I say hooey. The end of summer meant a return to school, or that many teens would have to get jobs or move back in with their parents. Morrison was really decorating a banal displeasure with growing up with a sound that made it seem romantically apocalyptic.
The intensely odd and self-concerned Arthur Lee of Love had seasonal matters on his mind as well in 1967. “Bummer in the Summer”, from their release Forever Changes, is a track both punkish and arty, nearly progressive in sound. It all works as Lee announces his discontinuous frustrations. A summer fling that didn't quite work out. An odd and dynamic merging of Dylanesque talk singing and revved up chords that resemble Them's “Gloria,” this suggests the rap and hip hop styles that came years after it. If not rap, then “Walk this Way” from Aerosmith at least. The middle section with the piano pounding out chords that suggest a jazz inclination is among the many unexpected wonders on this brilliant record.