Deep Tracks: Survivor – Summer Nights

Hi Everybody! This week, we have a new Deep Tracks band courtesy of Robert Mishou. This week, he is covering one of my favorite bands – Survivor. If you are only familiar with Survivor’s hits that you have only heard on the radio, then you are in for a treat. They have so many great songs that never got much airplay. Well, I can’t hold back anymore. Here is Robert:

Deep Tracks from Survivor – Part One

For the second installment of the deep tracks series I am going to go with one of my favorite ‘80s rock bands: Survivor. Last week with a-ha, I predicted you all thought of “Take On Me” right away. This time is a bit different in that Survivor has had a number of AT 40 hits, the most famous one being “Eye of the Tiger”, but remember the purpose of this series: to push beyond the hits and suggest some tracks that were not released as singles. Survivor is one of my go to bands when I grade papers or walk/jog. I have all of their albums on my iPod and love pushing the random play option. With over one hundred songs, the experience is never the same. Survivor released six albums in the ‘80s: Premonition, Eye of the Tiger, Caught in the Game, Vital Signs, When Seconds Count, and Too Hot to Sleep. Their first album, Survivor, was recorded in 1979; it has some really good songs, so, for now, I am going let this one slide. They placed eight songs in the AT 40 and had another eleven songs that charted in the top 100. Survivor’s highest charting songs were: “Eye of the Tiger” #1, “High on You” #8, “The Search is Over” #4, “Burning Heart” #2, and “Is This Love” #9 – but I am not here to write about these songs! There will be five deep tracks presented this week that will help you fully appreciate the power and expertise of Survivor.

Summer Nights (1981)

Sometimes I get too wrapped up in the quality of lyric writing that I sometimes forget that some of the best songs songs are about simple ideas and have straightforward lyrics that are able to capture a touching sentiment. “Summer Nights” does capture a common feeling that (too) many of us have experienced. That summer love that burned so bright, so intense, is now gone – now the yearning for that love has taken over. The speaker knows he will never truly get it back, “I’m out in the cold again / Back on my own again.” I am fascinated with the first verse; there is a clear sense of fatalism – both jump right into the intense relationship that is sure to be temporary, “”Young and innocent and living fast / Didn’t know enough to know that a summer love can’t last / Can’t last.” Despite this, both jump in and are willing to experience the intense emotions at the same time understanding the necessity of feeling the pain that comes with letting the love go. My earlier comment about simple ideas was not intended to imply that this song is not well written. This verse displays solid creative talent: “I remember playing by the shoreline / Before the fall we had it ll out our fingertips / Building castles in the shifting sand / Raced the waves as they ran to the shore / But the tides were turned for ever more / All the things we planned / Were castles made of sand.” Not bad writing at all. I have always been a huge fan of Survivor’s guitarist, Frankie Sullivan, and keyboardist Jim Peterik. This song is a fine example of the blending of both, a piano that carries and sustains the song and a guitar that highlights and captures the emotional yearning. This song did reach #62 on the charts, but it is seldom heard on any ‘80s radio stations, so it is a great place to begin a deeper look at Survivor.

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