My album collection screams 1980 through 1984. Those were my college years, back when I was a budding “adult” with no parental guidance and little to do but take classes. During the Summer of 1984, I was preparing for my upcoming graduation and the stress of applying for medical technology school. I was taking three courses over the summer in order to have my prerequisites done for med tech school so I could finish a degree in biology, which was an “almost microbiology” degree. See, my alma mater only had biology degrees back then, through which you could emphasize your coursework in a particular area of biology. I must admit, though, that I rarely let my academic life interfere with my social agenda, especially when it came to the Summer of 1984.
That summer got off to a stellar start as I was one of three frat brothers who took a fourth brother to near New Orleans where his parents had just purchased a new home. So, the week before summer classes began, I was having a great time down in the Big Easy. When I finally got back to the House, all the guys had moved in. That summer was the the summer of Prince’s Purple Rain, The Boss’ Born in the USA, The Jacksons’ Victory, and the original version of Ghostbusters. Springsteen was so big that summer that little “Springsteens” were popping up everywhere, like Huey Lewis & the News and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band.
Remember John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band? Their hit was “On the Dark Side”. Still doesn’t jog your memory? Okay, do you remember the movie Eddie & the Cruisers? Yep, during the Summer of 1984, HBO had its first major hit movie when it began showing the 1983 box office flop Eddie & the Cruisers. And, for some reason, the movie struck a chord with the early members of Generation X.
This movie was about a fictitious New Jersey (does anyone else smell Springsteen?) bar band that hit the big time. Then, as they were recording their masterpiece album, their lead singer/guitarist and mastermind disappeared forever, leaving the band broken and confused. You know, this is the plot of stuff that should be taught in every high school…NOT!
For some reason, I am not sure why – it was a very hot summer that year – that movie connected with us. I think it was due to the fact that everyone was so Springsteen-crazy that summer that when we heard bands and artists that sounded similar, we wanted it. So, that great song, “On the Dark Side” was a perfect distillation of the E Street Band sound in a three-minute pop song. That song was able to do what the great “Dancing in the Dark” almost did: wrap up Bruce’s career into that three-minute burst of energy. And, for a moment, John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band had a Top 10 hit.
The band released a second single from the soundtrack called “Tender Years”, which was a strong ballad, but only peaked at #31. Cafferty and his band released another album that stalled quickly, and then they were gone, almost like Eddie in the movie.
The Summer of 1984 was a glorious three-month period of time where my life converged perfectly with the pop culture of the moment to leave a beautiful lasting memory. Perhaps the greatest thing that came about that summer was a little “summer fling” with a beautiful woman that has lasted to this day. Truly, that was the best part of the summer.
So, I met Jill that summer. But remember this too. The Celtics beat the Lakers in a great seven-game series that was arguably the best pro basketball I ever experienced.
Naw, hands down, the summer of 1984 was about m’lady Jill. What a summer!