One of the beautiful aspects of music, and there are many, is that not only are songs a great way of marking a significant event, a notation in the book of life of saying something about the world as we travel through it, the song itself is also a point in time. Whilst the message being carried doesn’t change, the song itself speaks from a specific moment of creation, a period of time, of the places and the people who created that version of the song.
Indian Summer Blues is a song of mourning, of moving forward and having to carry an emotional burden and about coming to terms with the slings and arrows that life throws at us all, a song for a cousin lost to cancer and the husband who now has to deal with its aftermath.
It is one of those bitter sweet comments on life, a gentle soft rock meets sensitive pop musical package, it reminds us of the transitory nature of this life and how it affects those who have to cope with the passing of loved one. It is both a personal eulogy and a universal statement, a very specific picture but also a broadly relatable sentiment. Greg Schotthaeur’s vocals are that perfect blend of sweetness and confidence avoiding the fey and the melancholic which is often a misstep that it is all too easy to make when working in such territory.
And as I pointed out in my opening statement, the song itself is just one point in time in the songs journey also as highlighted by the acoustic version with vocals this time by Jon Statham. Here the song is stripped down to vocals and an acoustic guitar and this lighter touch takes the song into even more emotive territory as the lilting and dextrously picked guitar is drawn to the fore because of the musical space it is afforded. For me this is the perfect version, the simplicity makes the delivery more powerful, space is a much underrated creative tool.
It is therefore interesting to hear the original demo, sung by the author himself, which seems to combine elements of both its sibling versions and a wonderfully retro feel, like a long lost psychedelic pop song from the sixties.
And of course songs are flexible and can be adapted to redirect their sentiment to mark other significant passings and with only a minor edit to accommodate a change in gender, Lewis Papier, took the acoustic version and used it to mark the passing of Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez who was lost in a tragic boating accident two years ago.
Songs can tell stories but they are also stories in their own right, they evolve and adapt just as people do to the challenges and changes of life.