Last week, James Bay, one of my longtime favorite artists, released a new album called Leap. This week, the deluxe version came out, so I’m taking the opportunity to review my favorite song from the album.
“Endless Summer Nights” is the kind of euphoric, windows-down, summer song that I don’t often listen to anymore. They just don’t usually fit the mood to be honest — what with Joe Manchin tanking the climate bill for the ten-thousandth time, the Supreme Court stripping us of our rights, and climate catastrophe advancing.
It’s a deeply nostalgic song. It feels like a look back on teenage love, the kind of song to play during the climactic scene of a coming-of-age rom-com, the kind of song that let’s you be the “main character” on TikTok.
However, I am increasingly becoming aware of how different nostalgia is for people living in this moment. Nostalgia was always a rose-tinted look at the past. For instance, it is perhaps the biggest cliché of all time to remember first loves and summer break in this euphoric way, when in reality, it was probably awkward and boring at times. Main characters never have braces, do they? However, I don’t think we can be so quick to dismiss nostalgia anymore. We are at the point that our reality is objectively changing… and not for the better. In some ways, nostalgia now feels like a clear-eyed response to the moment.
At the same time, though, there is always hope to be found, and as such, we must keep looking forward. Today, I appreciated the genuine optimism from climate activist and West Virginian, Mary Anne Hitt today when it became clear (once again) that Manchin would sell out his own state to the fossil fuel lobby. Her full thread is worth a read.
Summers have felt really hard the past couple years. They feel hotter. They feel more disaster-filled. And recently, they’ve been filled with a lot of work that can sometimes feel futile. Even still, I want to honor what summers used to be… a time of freedom, rest, and, well, euphoria. Do you remember what it was like to go to the beach with your friends, drive yourself around town, and finish the day rich in books? Do you remember what it was like to worry about nothing more than the mosquitos (I mean, they are pretty bad)? I hope you do. To be effective activists, we need to remember what we’re working to save. And that’s why I love this song. It reminds me of how I want to live.
It reminds me of how I still can live. All is not lost, and in times of great change, we have great opportunity to change the very systems that we live in. There has perhaps never been a moment as ripe as this one for everyday heroes (want to be one? head to the Climate Action Explorer).
So on that note, I leave you with Endless Summer Nights and a few of my other favorite summer tunes from years gone by. Take a load off, and remember what it’s like to feel free. We’ll get there someday.