What a difference three words make! The title phrase of Bruce Springsteen’s “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” may lead you to believe this is a bright, sunny pop song. So may the song’s sweet melody and gorgeous layers of instrumentation. But as usual, Springsteen has more on his mind than may be obvious at first.
The next three words after “girls in their summer clothes” are “pass me by.” The girls, in other words, are unintentionally torturing him.
The song, ultimately, is more bittersweet than uplifting. But it’s still a highlight of his Magic album and one of the most appealing pop songs of the second half of his career. And you don’t have to pay attention to the song’s dark undercurrents, if you don’t want to. I mean, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is really an album about becoming disillusioned with life, but you can still just sit back and marvel at the sheer beauty of it.
Eventually, Springsteen shares the real reason for the guy’s unhappiness. “She went away, she cut me like a knife,” he sings, after complaining, “Things been a little tight …”
“… but I know they’re gonna turn my way,” he adds. That’s a hopeful spin to put on his predicament, of course. And so is his closing thought: “I ain’t got much sense, but I still got my feet.”
Background facts: Springsteen released “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” on his 2007 album Magic. The song was also released as a single in 2008, rising to No. 95 on Billboard magazine’s pop singles chart.
The song was nominated for two Grammys, and won one, for Best Rock Song.
According to Brucebase, Springsteen performed the song 70 times between 2007 and 2014.
On each of the 70 days leading up to Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday (on Sept. 23, 2019), NJArts.net will do a post on one of The Boss’ best songs of the last 30 years. We’re starting with No. 70 and working our way up. For more on the project, click here.
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