Working in the garden yesterday with my wife, Kate, on the last day of my Christmas holidays, I asked whether she had any suggestions for the next Bytes item or as to whether there was anything she particularly wanted. She answered with only two words: Summer Fly. That song is a favourite of Kate’s and it is a bit of a pain for me because it is one of those melodies that you keep humming and singing for ages afterwards.
Here are some comments on it.
Summer Fly was written by American songwriter and singer Cheryl Wheeler (1951- ), whose songs have been covered by artists as diverse as Garth Brooks, Peter Paul and Mary, Bette Midler, Kenny Loggins and Melanie. Although Cheryl tours, she has not done much recording of her own works. Her style is contemporary folk music.
Click on the following link to hear and see Cheryl Wheeler singing the song live:
Cheryl re-recorded Summer Fly on her 2009 album Pointing at the Sun.
The song was brought to prominence by Irish singer and actress Maura O’Connell, who recorded it on her album Helpless Heart in 1989. It was also an outstanding track on the 1993 album A Woman’s Heart. Maura O’Connell’s arrangement is similar to Cheryl Wheeler’s.
See and hear Maura singing it by clicking on:
After Maura O’Connell first recorded the song, audiences would request Cheryl Wheeler to perform it but for a long time she declined, saying that they should listen to Maura sing it. After numerous requests she began performing it again but changed the last line of the first verse from " 'cause a pure and golden high is all that I remember" to “ ‘cause a starry sky is all that I remember.”
Hayley Westenra has also covered the song, hear it by clicking on:
In another, younger day I could dream the time away
In the universe inside my room
And the world was really mine from June to September
And if it wasn’t really so I was lucky not to know
And I was lucky not to wonder why
‘cause a starry sky is all that I remember
A summer fly was buzzin’ every night when I was young
In the gentle world my child-like senses knew
And the world was just my cousin and the wind was just the tongue
In the voice my lonely moments listened to
And I look at me today, all the dreams have gone away
And I’m where I never thought I’d be
Seeing things I never thought I’d see happening to me
And I lay awake at night till the darkness goes to light
Hearing voices calling out my name
Droning over and again the same message through me
Cryin’ who’s your partner, who’s your darlin’ who’s your baby now?
Who wakes up at night to pull you in?
It don’t matter, you just make her lonely anyhow
Don’t know why you even try to win
Oh this’ll never fly, get out while you can
Look into the mirror say it’s not the same again
Every single time, things just fall apart
Slamming door, slipping pride, sad and angry heart
The singer recalls how bright and wonderful the young teenage years were, how quickly they flew by with no cares or responsibilities. In contrast, the dreams have now gone, the singer lies awake at nights and the voices torment her, asking why even try? Sad.