An infinite number of tracks can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!
BLUE ÖYSTER CULT: This Ain’t The Summer Of Love
Written by Albert Bouchard, Murray Krugman, and Don Waller
Produced by Sandy Pearlman, Murray Krugman, and David Lucas
From the album Agents Of Fortune, Columbia Recoirds, 1976
I’ve written many times about my friend Tom, who killed himself in 1979. The other day, the random thought occurred to me that, if he had lived, Tom and I probably would have parted company somewhere along the line. It was an unsettling, sobering thought. As much as we had been friends, our paths were already starting to diverge when he carried out that final act. He is frozen at a point in time when we were friends. It’s been more than forty years, and the memory still aches. Losing a friend is difficult. Losing a friend to suicide leaves a wound that never quite goes away. That mental scar inevitably dominates my recollection of a former friend.
There are specific songs that always remind me of Tom, songs I first heard when Tom played them. Both David Bowie‘s “All The Madmen” and the Runaways‘ cover of the Velvet Underground‘s “Rock And Roll” are superglued to Tom’s memory. And that is likewise true of “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love,” a track from Blue Öyster Cult‘s 1976 album Agents Of Fortune. I only knew the band from radio play of “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” but Tom had the LP, and played it for me. Tom was particularly fond of “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love,” and his enthusiasm was infectious.
BÖC’s best-known tracks are “Don’t Fear The Reaper” and (later on) “Burnin’ For You,” with maybe an honorable mention for “Godzilla.” My favorite remains “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love,” a lean and efficient LP track from Agents Of Fortune(the album that gave us “Don’t Fear The Reaper”). I learned of the song through my doomed high school pal Tom, prompting me to purchase my own battered, used copy of the album in time for college. During my freshman year, Side One of Agents Of Fortune was as much a go-to slab of vinyl as my Sex Pistols and Monkees records, and “This Ain’t The Summer Of Love” in particular fit well alongside my steady diet of Ramones, Television, Jam, and Dave Clark Five.
For me, 1979 was the summer of love. I had met Brenda the preceding fall, and we were getting increasingly serious about committing our hearts to each other. She was with me the night I saw Tom for the last time, and she was with me the next morning when a phone call delivered the news of his death. She tried to comfort as best she could. It was a summer of love, no matter what a song said. It was also a summer marked by the start of a lingering sadness that’s not ever going to go away. Friendships end. That’s the nature of all things in this physical world.
We make our way as best we can. Some are unable to make their way. The day a good friend of mine killed himself in 1979 was one of the worst days of my life, until an even worse day took its place decades later. The emotional scar never heals. I look back, and wish I could have helped.
If you find yourself in something similar to my old friend’s shoes, help is available. If you know someone else going through whatever it was my friend went through, please try to be a guide toward that helping hand, that helping voice, the bedrock of support your friend needs. Indeed, the support we all need. Your friend is not alone. You are not alone.
We are not alone.
So this ain’t the summer of love. Who says it can’t be? Don’t fear the reaper. And don’t be afraid to fight back.
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