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© Â Chris Schwegler ./Retna Ltd./Corbis
“The title came from Robert Heinlein’s wife – Robert’s a great science fiction writer. As the story goes, his wife was complaining about a bitter winter, and she said, ‘I wish there were a door into summer.’ He wrote a book with that title, although it was about something else altogether. Being a big reader of science fiction, I thought it sounded cool.
“It’s funny, because Summer Song was going to be called A Door Into Summer, but I changed it. For some reason, I thought at the time that it was just too much. Also, I remember riding with one of the promo guys for Relativity, and he said, ‘If I could just have that one summer song... ' That stuck in my head. I was reminded of the original title when John Cuniberti and I were doing this massive remastering of my catalogue. There it was on these boxes of tapes: A Door Into Summer. I remember writing it years ago, thinking about that very first day of summer.
“I brought the song to Chickenfoot a while back. I thought it would allow me to chug more on the rhythm, setting Sam free in a lyrical sense so he could really talk about a story. But it just didn’t click, and I tucked it back in my pocket. I knew I had to figure out parts of the puzzle, and a big chunk of that was taking the rhythm guitar and making four versions of it.
“If you listen carefully, there isn’t just one riff; there’s three ways of playing it, and they’re kind of going all at the same time. In that way, I avoided sounding like certain songs that were inspirational – there’s a bunch of Van Halen songs where Eddie led the band with one big rhythm guitar. He writes great, heavy riffs and really pulls that who thing off. David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel, too, which is a two-chord song as opposed to this, a three-chord number.
“So I’ve got three positions and three different voicings, which wound up making the whole thing bigger and gave more freedom to everybody else in the band to move around. Summer Song was more rigid in that I got locked into meticulous double-tracking of left and right guitars. This one had to be more relaxed, expressive and open. That was the simplest part of it; the hardest aspect was the fact that the song is so lyrical; there’s so much melody guitar.
“I was bearing down on my hyper-melodic trip. That’s what this whole record is about – these nice long melodies that develop, not short little things. On the flipside of it, because I had a super-long, lyrical verse and a very long chorus, and there’s no harmony anywhere, the solo had to be light and playful. Over the verse patter, I decided to just go super-expressive all over the neck. That allowed the rhythm guitars to lie back a little bit and be kind of undisciplined.
“I like how lightly Vinnie plays, especially on this song, but he also plays with such weight and meaning – it’s a neat trick. A lot of us have chased after the Bonham thing – ‘Bonhamesque this’ and ‘Bonhamesque that’ – and that’s cool. But Vinnie goes for interpreting the song in his own compositional sense; we didn’t lock him in with any kind of restrictions or directions. We just waited to see what he’d come up with, and we were always thrilled.”