Labor Day weekend, that most bittersweet of all holiday weekends, has come and gone, and summer’s begun to fade away in the lamer parts of the country. Here in LA we’re fortunate enough not to have to pay much attention to those pesky seasons, but all the same — school’s back in session, football’s on TV, and people have broken out the boots and sweaters despite it still being a hundred degrees outside.
Bask in the nostalgia, grab something pumpkin-flavored, and send off your summer with these, my favorite end-of-summer anthems. Whether it’s summer love or just warm summer days you’re bidding adieu, these songs make goodbye a little easier.
“I Remember You” – Skid Row
I’d count myself lucky to be half as beautiful a woman as Sebastian Bach. And yet, his near-blinding beauty is simply the icing on the divine cake that is his sublime operatic voice. There’s no one on earth better suited to sing this, the most perfect of all songs commemorating a summer romance.
Best verse: “Woke up to the sound of pouring rain / washed away a dream of you / but nothin’ else could ever take you away / ’cause you’ll always be my dream come true / whoa my darlin’, I love you.” (That last in one of the most breathtaking rock and roll high notes ever belted.)
“I Won’t Forget You” – Poison
This song is the glass of brandy — since we’re fancy people who drink brandy now — to follow the previous song’s Food Network-worthy gourmet cake. (I’m willfully ignoring that this song debuted first chronologically in order to further beat that metaphor into the ground.) Bret Michaels (and his half-octave range) is certainly no Sebastian Bach, but all the same, this song can be a real punch to the junk to anyone who’s loved and lost in the summertime.
Best verse: The sweet, simple chorus. “I won’t forget you, baby (I won’t forget you) / Even though I could / I won’t forget you, baby (I won’t forget you) / Even though I should, yeah.”
“Goodbye” – Night Ranger
I’m not gonna lie: I know three Night Ranger songs, and that’s probably one more than you do. “Sister Christian” — duh — “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” — hell, yeah — and this relatively obscure jam that’s very close to my heart. Anyone who’s ever had to suffer through a heart-wrenching goodbye at the end of a summer romance can relate to this one.
Best verse: “There once was a time, never far from my mind / on the beach on the Fourth of July / I remember the sand, how you held out your hand / and we touched for what seemed a lifetime” — If you’ve ever been in love in the United States in the summertime, this has happened to you. Night Ranger has nailed down a universal American life experience in song. Please congratulate the band members if you happen to run into them somewhere.
“Seasons” – Good Charlotte
Uhh…what? Wasn’t there a whole late-80s theme kind of thing happening here? That’s right — I just totally blew your mind. Honestly, if you were paying attention, you’d realize it was really more of a heartfelt, acoustic theme kind of thing happening anyway. Furthermore, you should know that these gems can be mined from anywhere, be it the bountiful late-80s or the seemingly barren early-2000s.
Best verse: “October air reminds me of / all the seasons of your love / and what it was like when we were together” — I mean, I’m not saying the guy’s Shakespeare, okay? But I think this song hits that end-of-summer nostalgia nail right on the head.
“Stolen” – Dashboard Confessional
Another one out of left field! Dashboard Confessional is a guilty pleasure of mine, and you know what? I’m not ashamed anymore. Sure, Chris Carrabba’s a pretty boy, but — as anyone who’s ever read more than two sentences I’ve ever written knows — I love pretty boys. They’re kind of my milieu, if you will. (Boy, we are fancy today!) What I like about this song is that it toasts summer’s end instead of mourning it. It’s the soundtrack to time well spent.
Best verse: The opener says it all for me. “We watched the season pull up its own stakes / and catch the last weekend of the last week / Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced / Another sun-soaked season fades away.” Right?!
“Boys of Summer” – Don Henley
Let’s just say I’m no fan of Don Henley. Love the Eagles, of course; I just greatly prefer the Glenn Frey years. You can imagine, then, the kind of distaste I feel with regard to Don Henley’s solo career. I’m sure he’s a lovely man. Just…not a fan. Except of this song.
“Boys of Summer” is the obvious top choice when it comes to end-of-summer anthems, no matter how I feel about Don Henley. If I have to explain why, then you might as well just move to the Arctic where it’s nighttime all year or whatever because you clearly don’t understand summer at all.
Best verse: “Nobody on the road / Nobody on the beach / I feel it in the air / The summer’s out of reach / Empty lake, empty streets, the sun goes down alone / I’m drivin’ by your house / Though I know you’re not home” — See? The summer — and his relationship! — are both ending. Don’s not having it, though; he’s gonna get her back.
Okay, he probably isn’t, and that’s why this song, like the end of summer, is so bittersweet.
The best part? Now that you’ve gotten nostalgic over them, the bad decisions of a few weeks ago have transformed automatically into fond, bittersweet memories of the classic summer of 2013. Here’s to the future bad-decisions-turned-hallmarks of your classic autumn!