Every Bosshead has their own private list of songs they love that never get the attention they deserve from the guy in charge when it comes down to setlist-makin’ time. “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” is one of mine.
It was a nightly staple during the Magic tour, then poofski. The most important mobile telephone app in the history of all times, BRUCEfanatic, reports that it’s made only two appearances on the Wrecking Ball tour, and those were in mid-2012. It is still sometimes summer, and girls still frequently wear clothes designated for that season or balmy temperatures thereof, so what gives?
I don’t know what gives. It’s mystifying. I bet you believe the same to be true of your own personal Springsteen peccadilloes—why won’t he play this song more often, or that song less often, or just do all of the above wearing far less clothing, AMIRITE LADIES
For me, “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” has the same kind of universal appeal as a “No Surrender” or (dare I say) “Waiting On A Sunny Day.” It’s a mild statement of purpose at best, but it sure is a great party song, with a midtempo swoony romance that fits perfect with the right setlist moment—maybe coming out of a long run of “America sucks we hate each other what is our problem” tunes, or kicking off an encore. It actually could BE a new “Waiting” if Bruce would only see things exactly my way just one time. I keep sending him letters. What gives?
Magic is a dark record, and it’s been a dark era for our nation, our culture, our humanity. “Girls” is a little pinprick of light from behind black clouds; those girls pass you by, but they’re still out there walking around, waiting to save a life. “Things been a little tight/but I know they’re gonna turn my way” is a line that has put an unwarranted smile on my own face more times than I can count.
On that particular album, “Girls” is the bright side of a duality that reveals itself on “Long Walk Home,” near the record’s end. Those same streets that welcome the narrator with a flourescent warmth are shuttered and boarded, with a sign that just says “Gone.” The girls in their summer clothes are suddenly rank strangers. Hey, pretty darlin’, don’t wait up for me.
Life flips between both sides of that same coin, but on my best days, I prefer the light. There’s endless potential in a pretty summer night, and “Girls In Their Summer Clothes” perfectly captures that feeling of mildly desperate hope. It deserves better than its brief moment in the setlist sun.