Summer of '67

I was eighteen this summer, the famed Summer of Love. I did a lot of hitchhiking in those days—it was relatively safe then, and drivers were not so weary about picking up strangers and offering them a ride.

The song has a very specific and clear seed. Strangely, the seed formed in the spring of 1969. I was on my way home to Stockholm after a visit to Halsingborg, a small southern Swedish town just across the sound from Denmark.

It must have been March or April, and a cold one at that. I’m standing in the middle of a large southern plain and the winds are remorseless. Rain in the air, or at least the threat of it. I hug my jacket closer to me and wish that I had had a cap of some sort, my ears were icing up—well, that’s how it felt. And the cars, this particular day, utterly without sympathy and without any trace of slowing down. I was on my own, in the middle of relatively nowhere, freezing to death (not literally, of course).

This was the image, this standing in the middle of fields and fields and fields suspended between point A and point B, waiting for a ride. This was the image that grew into song, and a song quite different from the initial impression.

The song moved two years back, to 1967, added a friend, and a romance, and a quest, and a hope, and another windy (or not so windy) stretch of road, with sympathy-less cars cruising by intent only on their own comfort and destination.

And so the song grew.

Another thing about this song: it’s one of two (I think) where I never sought a single rhyme. I simply told a prose story, and where the rhythms echo somewhat, they echo by instinct, not by design.

The Words:

I sat by the road side
you sat behind
I was thinking (or I said),
Man, these cars are crazy

You said, To me they look like ants
heading for some promised land
I saw what you said, and smiled to myself
then turned and laughed,
Hey, Rose, get down here

Two more hours and still no luck
I stared at the man on a bike
who looked at us as he pedaled by
as if what we did, just waiting for a ride
was a crime

One more day on the road
just another ride from home

One more day on the road
savoring that ride for home
for home

I saw some evening clouds
gather in the west
and I said to you,
We’ll have rain within the hour

You sighed and said, All right,
then let’s eat before it rains, and you
found some cheese and the last of our bread
and one piece of old stale candy
to feed us

I tried the radio
but the batteries were flat, so we
finished our meal then began to walk
for a mile maybe two
and those houses down by the
water

One more day on the road
just another ride from home

One more day on the road
savoring that ride for home
for home

The room they had
was dark and damp
but beggars cannot choose
so in little light
I read you one of my stories

You then read me one of yours
‘bout that King without a land
and I thought as you spoke,
In a room this cold
it’s amazing how well
two persons can share

We doused the light and shut our eyes
the rain sung a lullaby
the day was fading into dream
we fell outside
and winged for the stars

Ulf Wolf
January 1978/June 2015
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