'Old' songs seen from a different perspective

Monday, January 15, 2018

As I get older, it seems to me that my perspective about a number of things has changed.

For example, school teachers my classmates and I once viewed as “old” when we were in school?

Turns out, in retrospect, that many of those teachers were only in their 50s at the time - or perhaps maybe even in their 40s or 30s. I guess they weren’t “old” at all ...

As I’ve declared many times over the years in this space, pop music has been a passion of mine for virtually all of my life. I mean, rock and roll and I are almost the same age. And, as in other areas, I find my perspective has also changed in the way I now look at some songs - particularly songs that have to do with age.

For example - Neil Young’s “Old Man.”

The first line of the song is “Old Man, look at my life, I’m a lot like you were.” When Young recorded this song, he was 24 years old and I was 22 - we, in other words, were the young men addressing the titular “Old Man.” Guess what? We are now the “old man” being addressed. But Neil was right - young men and old men have a lot of similarities.... as the trite, but true, expression goes, “The only diffference between men and boys is the price of their toys.”

Or how about this Paul McCartney gem from the Beatles’ classic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” LP. (LP? What’s an LP?) . Written in 1967, McCartney muses about what his life will be like “When (he’s) 64 (years old).” Paul was all of 25 years old when he penned that tune, and I was 16 going on 17. I felt at the time that the song was a kind of amusing little “ditty” (how’s that for an old fashioned word?) about what his life would be like when he reached that age (“Grandchildren on my knee”, “Will you still feed me, will you still need me...”) Sir Paul is now 11 years beyond that age of 64, and I’m happy to report that he seems to be doing better than he anticipated, still performing and recording for everyone’s enjoyment, but also able to enjoy “a cottage on the Isle of Wight” or most anywhere else he chooses, as he’a made himself a goodly sum of money over the past 55 years.

Here are a couple of other slogans from the ‘60s that seem rather dated to me in 2018.

One is the slogan, “Don’t trust anyone over 40!” Really? Nowadays some of my generation don’t trust anyone UNDER 40. Come to think of it, maybe the generation we thought of as “old” didn’t trust anyone under 40 then, just as many of my generation didn’t trust anyone OVER 40. I guess time has a way of “turning the tables,” as the younger generation becomes the older generation.

Speaking of generatons, I must close this opus with the key line from the Who’s “My Generation,” first espoused by the group’s Roger Daltrey when he was all of 23 years old.

“Hope I die before I get old,” Paltry sings. Unfortunately for many of the rockers of the 60s, they DID die before they got old.

On the other hand, many others, including Paul McCartney, are still rocking, and they may indeed “never get old” - at least in spirit.

It is with this group that I prefer to “hang.”