As I’ve been reviewing the revolutionary period I grew up in of late, The Sixties (more on that later), stumbled upon one song that I at one point played endlessly. Did so on the little portable plastic turntable I’d been gifted, which could play both LPs and 45s1. And since yesterday was the last day of the warmest season for the Northern Hemisphere, I thought it timely to discuss the forgotten song. Albeit briefly, Chad & Jeremy‘s biggest hit: A Summer Song.
“Of the many British Invasion acts that stormed the charts in the wake of the Beatles, Chad & Jeremy possessed a subtlety and sophistication unmatched among their contemporaries, essentially creating the template for the kind of lush, sensitive folk-pop embraced by followers from Nick Drake to Belle & Sebastian.”
The initial British Invasion was, to say the least “…a cultural phenomenon.” For me, from 1964 on (when a certain group up and changed my life and music habits), I became locked into everything perceived as British. Quite a shock for my first gen Mexican-American grandparents, in whose house I was living. But then, they were all about assimilation for their children and grandchildren, so just shrugged their shoulders and cracked on2.
Chad Stuart (born in Windemere, England, 10 December 1941) and Jeremy Clyde (born 22 March 1941, in Buckinghamshire, England), met while attending London’s Central School of Speech and Drama and became fast friends. Subsequently, Stuart taught Clyde to play guitar, then formed a rockish folk duo known as the Jerks. Okay, British humor escapes me sometimes.
When that group failed, they reformed into “Chad & Jeremy”, but there was another issue. The perception back home these two were not part of the working-class rockers like John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Effectively branding the duo as upper-crust nancy boys — a reference I reckon supposed to be unbecoming, and I don’t even know what it means. Merely pretenders within the music of the time. This was near fatal to their careers as their album tanked in the UK.
All care of the infamous sod, Allen Klein, who signed and landed them a new deal with the Columbia label
If the British Invasion hadn’t occurred, the duo’s career indeed sent to Coventry3. But it did and Chad & Jeremy‘s U.S. label release scored a Top 20 American hit with “Yesterday’s Gone”. All this set the stage for what followed in August 1964 with their gorgeously nuanced and pastoral folk-pop masterpiece that entered Billboard’s Top Five. Everything after was minor hits and acting stints that resulted in the duo relocating to California4, but their true pop gem was A Summer Song.
Many of the British acts were rooted in the rhythm and blues work of black American artists who were ignored here but given new life by those overseas who recognized their gifts.
That it’s lasted with me from then till now all due to its place in the summer of ’64 when everything changed for me at age 10. Whether it was The Lads, Gerry and the Pacemakers5, and a whole bunch more, the impact of these British groups on music proved to be long-lasting. All of it through the infectious numbers that defied what was the mainstream of the 1950s. Overwhelming the charts during this radical period, gave voice to those seeking to make changes6.
A Summer Song bore everything great with the defiant ideas manifesting themselves this decade. For some, this resulted in a move to folksier, personal arrangements. This is evident with the acoustic guitar anchoring this tune’s preamble, Chad & Jeremy‘s dreamy harmonies, and the attractive melody gathering the listener in. To say nothing of the lyrics themselves. Like when, “Soft kisses on a summer’s day“, take hold, and the “Sweet sleepy warmth of summer nights” started captivating this pre-teen.
But it’s within the next stanza, one that carried the song’s point, which unexpectedly pierced the listener and got the meaning across:
They say that all good things must end someday
Autumn leaves must fall
It’s that bit of melancholy that carries this beautifully simple little number aloft. Marrying seasonal happiness with sadness for its youthful audience just beginning to take it all in. Introducing an adult concept of wishful longing and regret to the whippersnappers seeking to understand the world. Lyrically giving them pause to do just that. All framed impermanently by songwriters Chad Stuart, Clive Metcalfe, and Keith Noble against the appealing refrain of summer days.
The accompanying horns and strings were subtly arranged by Shel Talmy, who was also behind the hard-driving early hits with The Kinks and The Who back then. Everyone contributed to something many would have perceived as tailor-made for old-fogey, “easy listening” stations, Yet, the pop number punched well above its weight while also impressing via verse upon the adolescents wanting to be heard with a wistful ambiance.
Eventually, Clyde turned full-time to acting and appeared in the long-running stage production, Conduct Unbecoming. Stuart signed on as music director for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, later a stint as a staff producer with the great L.A.-based label, A&M Records. They’d reunite in 1977 to record a handful of unreleased demos, and five years later, they signed to an RCA subsidiary to release a comeback LP, Chad Stuart & Jeremy Clyde, which sadly didn’t do much business.
The duo’s story came to an end on December 20, 2020, when Chad Stuart died at his home in Hailey, Idaho, from pneumonia at age 79. Given the joy and meaning the song gave many of us back in the day, it’s well worth remembering, I’d say.
Trees swayin' in the summer breeze Showin' off their silver leaves As we walked by Soft kisses on a summer's day Laughing all our cares away Just you and I Sweet sleepy warmth of summer nights Gazing at the distant lights In the starry sky They say that all good things must end someday Autumn leaves must fall But don't you know That it hurts me so To say goodbye to you? Wish you didn't have to go No, no, no, no, and when the rain Beats against my window pane I'll think of summer days again And dream of you They say that all good things must end someday Autumn leaves must fall But don't you know that it hurts me so To say goodbye to you? Wish you didn't have to go No, no, no, no, and when the rain Beats against my window pane I'll think of summer days again And dream of you And dream of you
- For those too young to know what those are, see links for LP and 45. ↩
- /kræk/ UK informal: to start or continue doing something, especially more quickly or with more energy after a pause. ↩
- British slang for ignored, shunned. ↩
- Chad & Jeremy, sometimes incorrectly confused with the Peter & Gordon duo, would go to have appearances on the sitcoms The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Patty Duke Show; and were television fixtures for years to come, also appearing on The Danny Kaye Show, Shindig, and Hullabaloo. ↩
- Who also had a wonderful film, and accompanying hit song of the same name, that centered on the Liverpool beat scene that same summer, Ferry Cross the Mersey (1964). ↩
- From Civil, Women, and Gay Rights, Anti-Vietnam War and Environmental movements, and general youth culture. ↩