Bryan Adams’s Hit Song ‘Summer of ‘69’ Wasn’t About the Year – It Was About Sex

Canadian crooner Bryan Adams was just 9 years old in the summer of 1969.

This fact naturally leads fans to a question: Was his hit song “Summer of ‘69” about a fictional person, or was it autobiographical? Many listeners are surprised to find out that Grammy-award winning artist had specific intentions for the song all along.

Adams wrote a few hits before the up-tempo rock ballad “Summer of ‘69” was released in 1985. However, the catchy, memorable melody is one of his best-known singles.

 The wildest detail most fans don’t realize is just how sexual the lyrics really are.

‘Summer of ‘69’ almost had a different name

Bryan Adams
Bryan Adams | Fryderyk Gabowicz/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

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Adams co-wrote the song with Jim Vallance while the two holed up in Adams’s Vancouver townhouse in the winter of 1984. Vallance has earned a reputation writing for other big names in the music industry, including Kiss and Joe Cocker.

Even though Adams was gaining name recognition with songs like “Straight from the Heart,” “Cuts Like A Knife,” and “This Time,” he knew he needed a megahit to take him to the next level of stardom. At first, Adams wasn’t sure their new idea would become that thing, Louder reported.

“I had no idea it would become such a classic,” Adams said. “Originally the song had been called ‘The Best Days of My Life,’ but we had always played around with the idea of writing a song about summertime. At one point while we were doing the demo, I just threw in the lyric ‘It was the summer of ’69’ and it stuck.”

Bryan Adams explained that the song was about sex, not a specific year

Most listeners assume the summer of ’69 refers to a point in time, however, Adams was writing about something else entirely.

“The song is a bit autobiographical,” Adams explained, “but it’s really about summer love and, in my, case being a musician. I love the song ‘Night Moves’ by Bob Seger, which is about getting laid in the summer, and I always wanted to write an answer to that. There is a huge misconception that this song is about 1969, but it’s not. The reason I chose 69 is because of the sexual position.”

Adams explained this on stage to fans who saw him perform it live, plus referenced the concept during the outro by saying, “Me and my baby in a 69.”

“The imagery in the song is about romance, nostalgia, being a struggling musician, and making love,” he continued. “Jimmy and Jody are real people though. Jimmy is a drummer who quit the band, and Jody [Perpik] is still my soundman on tour after 25 years.”

‘Summer of ‘69’ is still popular today

Though the song didn’t become as popular worldwide as Adams would have hoped, it did reach number 5 on the U.S. charts. And perhaps most importantly, the song became an enduring hit that’s inevitably included in many “best of” roundups of classic rock songs.

“Charts don’t matter,” Adams said. “What matters is that the song is great. And it is. It proves that people who program radio don’t always have their finger on what people want.”

They want the summer of ’69, no matter what that really means.