Those Summer Nights…

Challenge issued, challenge met.

I have a friend, let’s call him Randy,  who has spent the past few years learning to play  guitar.

Randy is a generous and brave guy. He regularly shares his guitar journey with his friends via video risking criticism and snark that only guys who love each other can deliver.

I think he’s generous because he shares what brings him joy. The bravery comes from showing us the ugly parts of his learning process…you know the cringe inducing early days when every song was an adventure.

But over time, Randy has gotten better and better. He’s a hard worker. He’s also passionate about learning.

I’ve learned a lot by watching him over the years. Randy doesn’t do anything at half-speed. He’s an all-in kind of guy and those are the people who succeed. Most of us in Randy’s orbit live vicariously through him.

He lives life at full throttle, but he’s deliberate and intentional. He’s got a plan.

To increase his odds of success, Randy gives himself every advantage possible. As a result, the guitar’s difficulties are no match for our guy.

He hired a great guitar teacher, bought a few top-notch instruments, and carved out the time in his busy life to ensure that he would become a good guitarist.  That rock solid commitment and passion for learning took him from beginner to darn good in about a year’s time.

The guy can play.

Now he’s learning to sing too. And he’s sharing those videos as well.

His most recent recording was a cover of Journey’s “Stone in Love.”

It was…. really good. So good in fact that it hit triggered something in my brain. I can’t let it go.

You remember the song.

“Those crazy nights, I do remember in my youth

I do recall, those were the best times, most of all

In the heat with a blue jean girl

Burnin’ love comes once in a lifetime

She found me singing by the rail road track

Took me home, we danced by moonlight

 Those summer nights are callin’,

Stone in love

Can’t help myself I’m fallin’

Stone in love”


Those lyrics!

The soaring Steve Perry vocals (Randy’s brave to go there!).

Summer. Blue jeans. Falling in love.

That’s the power of music. A song can instantly transport you. In this case, “Stone in Love” took me to my youth, a time of endless summers and infinite possibilities.

Yes, I know that in some circles, Journey isn’t a “cool” band.

Truth be told, I’m not really a Journey fan, but I love that song and a few others too.

“Lights” reminds me of my college years in Oswego N.Y.

Summer nights walking with my best friend and roommate Scott through the streets of that old harbor town. I remember the walks and the talks. Endless summers and infinite possibilities.

“Don’t Stop Believing” the song that was playing in the last scene of  “The Sopranos” may have been my prom theme. It’s been 42 years, I barely remember. We wore bad tuxedos (I looked like Mr. Roark from Fantasy Island). We borrowed my mom’s Chrysler LeBaron because it had brakes and a bench seat. We were optimists in those days, we did not stop believing.

Anyway, I like my share of cool bands too: Talking Heads, My Morning Jacket, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit etc., but my tastes have always included what some critics (namely my wife and my oldest friend Dave) might call bubble gum or schlock rock.

But with all due deference, the critics are mistaken. There is plenty of gold to mine listening to Neil Diamond, Boston, vintage Toto and yes Journey. The more schmaltz, the better.

My buddy Randy reminded me of that when he sent his video. Stone in Love, what a title! And when he played and sang, I got to visit my youth again for a few precious but unforgettable moments.

Stone washed jeans, Adidas t shirts, my old Mustang, meet ups with my friends in Port Jeff where we sat in a bar designed like an old ship and listened to a jukebox that played Van Halen and The Cars.

I miss those days of infinite possibilities. In time, we learn that summer ends. We also learn that “burnin” love can come more than once in a lifetime. Thank goodness.

We grow up, we move away, we take on “deadlines and commitments” as Bob Seger sang. We decide ‘what to leave in, what to leave out’.

But then a friend sends you a song. And for a few moments we are transported. What a gift.

“Burnin’ love comes once in a lifetime

Oh the memories never fade away

Golden girl, I’ll keep you forever.


Those summer nights are callin’,

Stone in love

Can’t help myself I’m fallin’

Stone in love.”


  1. Scott Porten says

    As I started reading I thought to myself “oh no Jeff is going to blog about Journey.” But I agreed with everything you wrote. Perhaps if the bench seat were in something other than a Chrysler LeBaron you would have experienced more success.

    BTW, our friend Randy turns 60 on Saturday.

  2. Debbie Smith Stackhouse says

    Because Randy loves a 10 month celebration lol! Great blog Jeff, my entire family are Journey fans and we saw them In February for the umpteenth time. And every thing you said about Randy is spot on.

  3. Well, I’m his mother and I agree with everything you said. Randy has been a joy ever since the day he was born. And I am sure you know he’s a wonderful father and grandfather… And son, of course!

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