"Fire Island" / Fountains of Wayne
What? The only Fountains of Wayne song you know is their one pop hit, "Stacy's Mom"? Now that's a shame. Permit me to widen your horizons, with not one but ten FOW tracks that prove their genius...
As we face the end of summer, what could be better than this ode to an American suburban summer?
It's like a party montage from a John Hughes film, a catalog of forbidden teen behavior: "Driving on the lawn / Sleeping on the roof / Drinking all the alcohol" -- good kids gone bad! But wait, there's more: "Cranking up the tunes / 'Til the windows break / Feeding chocolate to the dog / Jumping on the couch /'Til the feathers all come out / While our parents are on Fire Island." (For me, the parents were off at Lake Wawasee, but that's a minor detail.)
This track shimmers with the texture of summer. Each line of the verses ripples up the scale in an eager rush of syllables, while shifting into a new key, like lapping waves on the beach. And that muted trumpet solo in the bridge -- it's a pure shot of sun-gilded 60s-era Bacharachiana, sheer nostalgic magic.
"We're old enough by now /To take care of each other," the kids declare in that yearning bridge. Of course, we know that they really aren't old enough to take care of each other; they're swimming naked in the pool, for chrissakes! "We're old enough by now / Don't worry 'bout a thing," they insist -- "Don't you remember last December / When you went to Steamboat Springs?" Oh, I can just imagine.
I've raised teenage kids; I should be listening to this with horror. But something about this song reawakens the teenager in me. The more I listen, the more layers of adulthood I peel off. It's September now; the nights are getting cooler, and summer is running out. Jeez, I'd better go swim naked in the pool while I've still got time.