"Summer Side Of Life" as written by and Gordon Lightfoot....
He came down through fields of green
On the summer side of life
His love was ripe

There was no illusions
On the summer side of life
Only tenderness

And if you saw him now
You'd wonder why he would cry
The whole day long

There was young girls everywhere
On the summer side of life
They talked all night

To the young men that they knew
On the summer side of life
Goin' off to fight

And if you saw them now
You'd wonder why they would cry
The whole day long

He came down through fields of green
On the summer side of life
He prayed all night

Then he walked into a house
Where love had been misplaced
His chance to waste

And if you saw him now
You'd wonder why he would cry
The whole day long

And if you saw him now
You'd wonder why
And if you saw him now
You'd wonder why
And if you saw him now
You'd wonder why


Lyrics submitted by ButNeverOutgunned

"Summer Side of Life" as written by Gordon Lightfoot

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Summer Side Of Life song meanings
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11 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentReleased in 1971, the US was still at war in Vietnam.

    So, young girls talking to the young men they knew all night long .. going off to fight. That sounds to me like the boys are off to 'Nam.

    The crying may be because of difficult war memories, or about coming home and marrying what ultimately turned out to be the wrong girl - or both. I think it is both.
    tsreybon February 13, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI won't begin to try to explain what the artist is feeling here, but I just absolutely love the term "Summer side of Life".........Maybe you have to be where I am now, in the Late Autumn side of Life to fully appreciate the Summer side of Life.
    To all those in the Summer side..........I have one word of advice: Enjoy life......treasure every moment.
    barrylamaron October 14, 2013   Link
  • +2
    My InterpretationI think this is definitely a sad homage to a soldier's innocence vs.experience in the Vietnam war.

    He came down through fields of green
    On the summer side of life
    His love was ripe

    ---the "field" is a battlefield
    --"green" is a word used to describe someone who lacks experience
    --"summer" represents youth
    -- the "love" that was "ripe" the patriotism and loyalty toward his country and his eagerness to contribute in an important way; the "love" could be toward the enemy whom the U.S. had hoped to win the hearts and minds of

    There was no illusions
    --the soldier felt the war was noble and righteous perhaps

    There was young girls everywhere
    On the summer side of life
    They talked all night

    --"young girls" who are equally inexperienced who wait at home
    --"talk" about the sadness and pride of his endeavor and plans for the future

    He came down through fields of green
    On the summer side of life
    He prayed all night

    --once faced with the realities and brutality of war, the young man just "prays" to finish his tour of duty with his life

    Then he walked into a house
    Where love had been misplaced
    His chance to waste

    --the "house" could be a village hut occupied by Viet Cong--or even civilians--or the dwelling place of the enemy who hates "love...misplaced" the soldier
    --to "waste" is to kill, perhaps for his own survival, perhaps for revenge, perhaps because the mission (seek and destroy) calls for it (he cleaned "house")

    And if you saw him now
    You'd wonder why he would cry
    The whole day long

    --he cries "the whole day long" not literally but the experience has definitely changed him; perhaps he mourns for his innocence lost from taking human life, perhaps he participated in a massacre, perhaps he mourns for the 52,000 + soldiers who died in Vietnam, perhaps feels betrayed by some of our nations elders who created the "illusion" that the war was noble and necessary. The crying could be PTSD he suffers from since his return home because of the horrors experienced in war.

    And if you saw him now
    You'd wonder why

    --no one really understands him, they "wonder why" he cries
    lovespoetryon February 22, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHopeful idealism destroyed by the realities of life.
    sammyblueon June 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationThe song begins on the summer side of life when everything is fresh, bright and full of sunny optimism.

    Verse1: A new love is entered into with a state of innocence, hope and optimism but now the relationship has died and if we saw him now we'd see nothing but sorrow and wonder why.

    Verse2. At a time when young lovers make plans for their future together, they are abruptly ended when young men are called off to war. Their dreams of a life together are in upheaval when faced with the prospect of war.

    Verse3. In reference to the time that Jesus, the innocent and perfect one who came into this world to bring peace, love and hope, walked into the market and became enraged as he began overturning tables in disgust over the promotion of corruption and sin that he saw there. As the song concludes we see that nothing has changed since then and are left to contemplate the summer side of life and wonder why the world is this way.
    JohnSmihtabon February 28, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General Commentsounds right to me sammyblue...
    it's funny how society seems to destroy everything good in the world...
    lzphishheadon January 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI feel those who choose to limit this song to a war context are mistaken; war is but one element of the overall tableau of life this song encompasses. I have to go along with barrylamar as a dellow resident of late autumn familiar with the overall scheme of life, who urges those still on the summer side to enjoy it to the full, as there are disappointments to come. I always loved this song; now , with greater perspective, I appreciate it more. I also appreciate Sammyblue's encapsulation - Hopeful idealism destroyed by the realities of life. There is nothing in the song to suggest JohnSmihtab(?)'s Jesus reference; that is purely in the poster's mind, and I feel those caught up in the war setting have overanalyzed.
    Retrogradeon December 31, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe big finish certainly underscores the depth and sadness that the summer side of life has passed; the gospel backing vocals suggest a spiritual connection. I like John's comments.
    Tvguardon March 10, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General Comment"Then he walked into a house
    Where love had been misplaced
    His chance to waste". This is a big verse; if in the war paradigm correct; a sad moment; and you don't have to wonder why he cried the whole day long.
    Tvguardon March 10, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe He is Jesus.
    In the '72 BBC concert , Gord repeated the first verse twice. Second time he sang, "He came down to save us all on the summer side of life."
    don1015325on March 11, 2016   Link

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