Today is the last day of June, and it is on this day that we worshippers of early 70s MOR remember this record by Bobby Goldsboro, especially appropriate since its a reasonably hot afternoon …
You never forget your first time. This song will bring it crashing back in all its bittersweet, wistful glory. Every time. Starting off with this opening line – so damn evocative …
It was a hot afternoon, the last day of June, and the sun was a demon
The clouds were afraid, 110 in the shade, and the pavement was steamin’
Love the next bit – he’s on his own, just walking, not on the pull or anything.
I told Billy Ray in his red Chevrolet, I needed time for some thinkin’
She was just passing by and I looked in her eye, and I swore it was winkin’
She was 31 and I was 17
I knew nothing bout love, she knew everything
So I sat down beside her on the front porch swing
Well, you would, wouldn’t you? 8=)
And wondered what the coming night would bring
The listener is left to hang on that line … and invited to remember. That feeling in the air of … possibility … just maybe …
The sun closed her eyes as it climbed in the sky
And it started to swelter
The sweat trickled down the front of her gown
And I thought it would melt her
This next bit really brings back the memory of how awkward and gauche a young man can be in these situations. And who’s got the power!
She threw back her hair like I wasn’t there
And she sipped on a julep
Her shoulders were bare and I tried not to stare
When I looked at her two lips
And when she looked at me I heard her softly say
I know you’re young – you don’t know what to do or say
But stay with me until the sun has gone away
And I will chase the boy in you away
The song has taken a very long time to build to this point – like he can’t quite believe what is happening.
And then she smiled, and we talked for a while
Then we walked for a mile to the sea
We sat on the sand. and a boy took her hand
But I saw the sun rise as a man
There follows a magnificent instrumental break consisting of the orchestral equivalent of waves crashing against the beach…
If the song ended right there it would STILL be the best song about coming of age EVAH, but there’s a bittersweet coda – the guy’s reminiscing about this, remember.
Ten years have gone by since I looked in her eye
But the memory lingers
I go back in my mind to the very first time
And feel the touch of her fingers
Not “her hand”. “Her fingers”. This makes all the difference.
And finally, the descending musical pattern over the reprise of the first verse is a masterstroke here – brings you back to reality and a realisation that nothing will ever be quite the same …
It was a hot afternoon, the last day of June
And the sun was a demon
The clouds were afraid, 110 in the shade
And the pavement was steaming
… but you still have the memories. Enjoy the song now.
PS – Loved this Youtube comment. Step forward Albacorewing, you are so right!
This song was written in 1968 about a 1958 event, and released in 1973. I heard it when it first came out. She would be 85 today, and he is 71. Live your lives well. Time waits for no one and before you know it you may be a stranger in a strange land.