In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, in honor of the actual beginning of the season, we’re picking our favorite summer songs
The only time I’ve been a member of a music scene, I was not, in the strictest sense of the term, a member of that music scene. In the summer of 2006, while working as a general-assignment features reporter for my college newspaper, I zeroed in on a loosely organized network of folk, rock, and pop acts (all of whom had the requisite quirks, work ethic, or regional stature to have the suffix “indie” attached to their chosen genres) that were picking up steam and local-opener gigs across Michigan’s lower peninsula. It was a particularly fascinating creative community because it lacked a geographic hub: Detroit still had the most available club stages, but the interstate highways that ensured the city’s demise also ensured that artists from Ann Arbor, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Ypsilanti could easily access those stages—and then play other shows in each other’s hometowns. A mediocre vocalist whose bass playing might be charitably described as “competent,” I didn’t have much to offer the scene, so I took it upon myself to be a self-appointed evangelist. First I touted the likes of The Hard Lessons, Great Lakes Myth Society, and Those Transatlantics in the pages of Michigan State University’s campus paper; I later teamed up with my friend Annie to run a local-music blog named after one of our favorite GLMS lyrics.
Dusky and wistful, “Heydays” was the perfect anthem for our endeavor, which was ending even as it was beginning. I was approaching my final year at MSU, fully prepared to leave the home state of which I was suddenly growing so fond. I heard “Heydays” on the eve of my second-to-last semester of college, and instantly connected with its sense of longing for a period that wasn’t completely over. “Weekends and summers / Bands that you loved were just haircuts and jackets” vocalist Timothy Monger sings, dispelling the notion that there’s anything inherently better about days gone by. The song is sort of a mirror image of “Heavy Metal Drummer,” with more languid arrangements and a lyrical sentiment that refuses to miss the so-called innocence.
Without being too specific about it—an anomaly for the bad, which made its reputation by setting bits of Michigan lore to boozy folk-rock—Great Lakes Myth Society wound up memorializing the “summer” of our little community before the trees had shed a single leaf. The musicians behind those haircuts and jackets wound up going their separate ways or slowing their output; some of us moved, others just moved on. Less than a year after I was introduced to “Heydays” in an Ann Arbor backyard, I was living in Austin, Texas, a renowned music city whose scene I never truly felt a part of. Eight years on, the chittering intro of “Heydays” still evokes thoughts of those nights, those songs, those people. It also reinforces the knowledge that nothing—not a scene, and definitely not a summer—lasts forever.