Monday’s Music Moves Me – SONGS ABOUT AGING & GETTING OLDER – Part 3 of 4: GETTIN’ OLD AIN’T FOR SISSIES!

It’s Monday and you know what that means: It’s time for Monday’s Music Moves Me! (It’s also the 15th of the month so if you’re looking for my Battle of the Bands post, click here. Or you can always find it on the sidebar of my Home page. But first check out this cool post…or come back for it).

I’m thrilled to be this month’s Honorary Co-Host of the 4M blog hop. Last week was my first theme week and I think we all had fun with it. This week is a Freebie and since we each get to do whatever we want with a music post I know we all like those! Here’s my freebie offering for this second week of October:

Today’s post is PART 3 of my SONGS ABOUT AGING AND GETTING OLD(er) Series. If you missed Part 1, entitled Time Passages, you can check it out here. Part 2 was about one of my favorite things to do: Reminiscing. Check it out here.

And today, Part 3 songs focus on the realities of aging, some harsh, some hilarious.  Join me in a playlist of fabulous songs that speak to this fact. (oh, by the way, Part 3 is also where this rock chick [yours truly] wanders off a bit and goes a little Country.

GETTIN’ OLD AIN’T FOR SISSIES! 

The songs in this playlist certainly illustrate how age takes a toll on us, physically, mentally and emotionally. The first half of the playlist deals with those types of issues and some of the songs can hit you with the reality of what a somber, desolate and mournful place old age can be. But then I take us out of that mood, jump tracks and get fun and lively. Enjoy!

When I’m 64 by The Beatles (1967) – written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and released in 1967 on their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song is sung by a young man to his lover, and is about his plans of their growing old together. Although the theme is aging, it was one of the first songs McCartney wrote, when he was 16. It was in the Beatles’ setlist in their early days as a song to perform when their amplifiers broke down or the electricity went off. This was a favorite of The Beatles at their early club shows, where they were required to play for hours. When their amps overheated, they would sing this around the piano.

Paul McCartney used to play it when The Beatles were still known as The Quarrymen. He put lyrics to it later in honor of his father’s 64th birthday.

Someday When I’m Old by Easton Corbin (2010) – Dan Easton Corbin (born April 12, 1982) is an American country music singer. His music is primarily categorized in the Neotraditional Country genre, a style that emphasizes the instrumental background and “traditional” country vocals. He signed to Mercury Records Nashville in 2009 and released his self-titled debut album in March 2010, featuring the two number one hits “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll with It”, as well as the number 14 hit “I Can’t Love You Back. This song, “Someday When I’m Old”, is a song from that first album and was written by Aimee Mayo, Chris Lindsey and Troy Verges.

Of the song, Corbin said

“This song is different and unique. I just thought it was a great song when I heard it. It’s really powerful. It makes a young person look at how they might feel in 40 years when they have kids and grandkids.”

Grandma’s Hands by Bill Withers (1971) – “Grandma’s Hands” is a song written by Bill Withers about his grandmother. It was included on his first album Just as I Am, and was released as a single, reaching number 18 on the Best Selling Soul Singles chart and 42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Withers grew up in the rural town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, and his Grandma Galloway was a huge influence in his life, nurturing him and telling him that others would someday appreciate what he had to offer. As the lyrics say, she really did look after unwed mothers in the area as well as her own family. In the 2009 documentary Still Bill, Withers explains, “I learned how to really love somebody from just a nice old lady. My favorite thing that I’ve written has to be about this favorite old lady of mine.”

Veronica by Elvis Costello (1989) – “Veronica” is a single from Elvis Costello’s 1989 album Spike, co-written by Costello with Paul McCartney. In 2004, Entertainment Weekly voted it one of Costello’s top ten greatest tunes.

The song focuses on an older woman who has experienced severe memory loss. Costello’s inspiration for this song was his paternal grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. When talking about the song on a VH1 interview, Costello reminisced about his grandmother having “terrifying moments of lucidity” and how this was the inspiration for “Veronica”. Her name was Molly, or more formerly, Mabel Josephine Jackson. In fact, her Catholic confirmation name, Veronica, provided the very title of the song.

“Veronica” was also Costello’s highest-charting Top 40 hit in the US, peaking at No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, No. 1 on its Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, and No. 10 on its Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.

The accompanying music video depicts an aged woman, probably nearing the end of her life in a retirement home, engaging in detached reminiscences from her life from young girl to young womanhood (played by Zoe Carides). The video for “Veronica” featured Costello delivering a spoken-word monologue to the camera, and occasionally singing the song softly over the original vocal track from the recording. The video, co-directed by John Hillcoat and Evan English, earned an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video.

Help the Aged by Pulp (1998) – Pulp was an English rock band formed in Sheffield in 1978. I never heard of this band, or this song, until I came across it last week while putting together my playlist for this post. This song was chosen as the lead single from 1998 album This Is Hardcore, and signposted the new direction the band took – one full of cynicism and loathing for the fame that had accompanied their breakthrough 1995 record Different Class.

It’s one that surprised many who were expecting more upbeat tunes like “Common People,” but one that Jarvis Cocker (lead vocals, guitar & keyboards) was keen to go in. Observer music critic Sean O’Hagan noted in a 2002 interview with Cocker that This Is Hardcore “cost Pulp a sizable proportion of their post-Common People fan base,” but Cocker in the same interview notes said:

“I weren’t surprised in the slightest. Songs about panic attacks, pornography, fear of death and getting old are never gonna be top of the hit parade, are they? I wrote about my own life. Before that, it was me pottering about, picking up bits of information from wherever. Then it became very interior. Introspective. I don’t think introspection is ever that healthy. In my experience, the more angst-ridden I’ve been, the worse the music is.”

In Seven Years of Plenty, Ben Thompson notes the dark themes of aging and death referenced in “Help the Aged”: “Jarvis Cocker croons caringly, over a sparse piano accompaniment, ‘One day they were just like you: drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.’ But this jaunty one-two is just softening us up for the death blow: ‘If you look very hard behind the lines upon their face, you may see where you are heading and it’s such a lonely place.'”

Despite the dark tone of the song, “Help the Aged” still charted at #8 in the UK singles chart, making it the band’s fifth consecutive Top 10 single.

Wow, those were some sad, somber, sobering songs. Let’s ramp it up and put a little levity into this inevitable process of getting old!

Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead (1987) – This song is from the album In the Dark. The song is known for its refrain “I will get by / I will survive”. It combines quasi-dystopian lyrics with a pop tempo. The music was composed by Jerry Garcia, and the lyrics were written by Robert Hunter. It was also released as a music video, the first one by the Grateful Dead. I was never much of a Grateful Dead follower but I have enjoyed some of their music, this song in particular. But it surprised me to read that this was The Grateful Dead’s first and only hit song. I mean I know they were “different” but I didn’t realize that they didn’t have other charting hits. They never set out to be on the radio, enthralling fans with their mind-bending musical landscapes and confounding critics with their interminable jamming. Their large and loyal following ensured that their albums sold well and their concerts were full. For many of the Dead faithful, it was strange hearing the group on pop radio and seeing them on MTV, but this song fit well with their canon and was clearly not an attempt to chase the ’80s trends.

The music video for “Touch of Grey” gained major airplay on MTV and featured a live performance of the band, first shown to be life-size skeleton marionettes dressed as the band, then as themselves. The skeleton of bassist Phil Lesh catches a rose in its teeth, thrown by a female attendee; later, a dog steals the lower leg of percussionist Mickey Hart, and a stagehand hurries to retrieve and reattach it. Near the end of the video, the camera pans up into the rafters to reveal that the living band members are themselves marionettes being operated by a pair of skeletal hands.

The popularity of the single and its video helped introduce the Grateful Dead to a new group of fans, resulting in the band gaining additional mainstream attention.

The song, about the band aging gracefully, contains the line, “I will get by, I will survive,” which became a mantra of resilience in the Dead community. When Jerry Garcia fell into a diabetic coma in July 1986, it looked like the group could be finished; when he returned to action in December, the group opened with “Touch Of Grey,” reassuring fans that they would indeed get by.

Arthritis Blues by Ramblin’ Jack Elliot (2006) – Ramblin’ Jack Elliot is an American folk singer and performer. This song is from his 2006 album I Stand Alone. The album was nominated for Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album in the 49th Annual Grammy Awards.

Writing for Allmusic, music critic Thom Jurek wrote about the album: “Elliott hasn’t recorded an album in seven years, but I Stand Alone ranks among his very best efforts. His voice is richer now that it’s aged; it’s full of authority, wisdom, and a certain kind of madness — the kind that one witnesses during his live shows… It’s a fantastic introduction to Elliott for newbies, and authoritative proof that he’s not only still got it, but he just keeps getting better.”

As for “Arthritis Blues”: I can relate! The osteo-arthritis is slowly killing me. Okay, maybe that’s a bit overly dramatic but it sure feels like it sometimes!

Too Old to Cut the Mustard by Buck Owens & Buddy Alan (Buddy is the son of Buck Owens and stepson of Merle Haggard). There isn’t much written about the song per se, but we can infer one thing: the meaning of the song is clear in its use of the idiom “cut the mustard”, expressing that the subject in the song is too old and simply doesn’t have what it takes to do whatever. Here are the lyrics:

Too old, too old, he’s too old to cut the mustard anymore
He’s getting’ too old, he’s done, got too old
He’s too old to cut the mustard anymore

When I was young, I had a lotta pep
I could get around, didn’t need no help
But now you’re old and a gettin’ gray
The people all look at you and say

Chorus:

Too old, too old, he’s too old to cut the mustard anymore
He’s getting’ too old, he’s done, got too old
He’s too old to cut the mustard anymore

I used to, could jump just like a deer
But now you need a new landing gear
I used to, could jump a picket fence
But now you’re lucky if you jump an inch

(Chorus repeat)

When I was young I had an automobile
Now they push you around in a chair with wheels
I had to fight the gals off with a stick
But now they say he makes me sick

(Chorus repeat)

When I was young and in my prime
The gals all used to stand in line
But now they go the other way
And as they leave I hear them say

(Chorus repeat)

All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down by Hank Williams Jr. (1981) – from his album The Pressure is On, this song itself is told from the point of view of a disillusioned singer who, along with his friends, had lived a wild lifestyle. Although admitting he himself has mellowed with age, the singer is depressed that his one-time “rowdy” friends have settled down and, in abandoning their high-living ways, want no part of their old lifestyle. References are made to Williams’ contemporaries, such as George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, as well as his father, Hank Williams.

This was Hank Jr’s fifth Number One on the Country charts.

As Good As I Once Was by Toby Keith (2005) – “As Good as I Once Was” is a song co-written and recorded by American country music singer Toby Keith that reached the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. This song and his 2003 single “Beer for My Horses” are both his longest-running Number One hits, each having spent six weeks at Number One. “As Good As I Once Was” was released in May 2005 as the second single from Keith’s album Honkytonk University. Keith wrote the song with Scotty Emerick.

The song was named BMI’s song of the Year for 2006. It has since become one of Keith’s signature songs, as well as one of his most successful.

The title of this song is a phrase that Toby Keith grew up with. According to his good friend and songwriting partner Scotty Emerick, it was a phrase that was coined by Burt Reynolds on a TV show, and Toby’s dad used it often. Scotty saw the episode after the song had become a hit while watching Nick At Night. He told Songfacts:

“Burt Reynolds came and he sat down and said, ‘You know, I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.’ That was on a rerun of a show from the ’80s or something. I think that saying has been around a little bit. Which is cool, because we had never heard of it as a country song. But I had never heard of it that way, so that was Toby’s idea.”

Toby Keith said on his website that this song is “Probably my favorite song on the album. If I hadn’t come out of the box with ‘Honkytonk U’ I’d have come with this one. It didn’t matter what order, they were going to be singles one and two. I can always tell when I’ve got a special one as soon as I get done. My dad used to say this line some. The first verse is about being with a woman, two is about fighting, and three is saying don’t sell me short because I’ll surprise you.”

Old Folks Boogie by Little Feat (1977) – This fun song, written by Little Feat’s Paul Barrere, is from their sixth album Time Loves a Hero. Getting old sucks and these guys explore some of the issues that may befall even the best of us as we age. The song contains lyrics about pacemakers, wheelchairs, financial troubles, and erectile dysfunction.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Well that wraps up Part 3 of my Songs on Aging and Getting Old(er) series. I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my favorite songs about the realities of aging. Which songs here did you like? What are your favorite songs about aging?

Be sure to come back for Part 4, the final installment of this series, on Monday, October 29th.

Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by Marie of X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by Cathy of Curious as a Cathy and Stacy of Stacy Uncorked Two other co-hosts recently joined the fun: Alana of Ramlin’ with AM and Naila Moon of Musings & Merriment with Michelle. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:

 

C is for Concerts

C

A friend of mine posted this cartoon on his Facebook page a while back and it really resonated with me. I think it might very accurately foreshadow days to come.  cartoon of old men arguing about how the best rock band is

This cartoon also took me down a long and winding road of memories. Memories of all of the concerts I attended back in the day. Some more hazy than others. Back in the day when Bad Company was headlining and Kansas was the opening band and my ticket to the show cost $6. All the way back to the days when I was so young that parents had to drop us kids off to see Peter Frampton and Rick Derringer. Back in the day when everyone was so generous with their weed and there was a constant flow of joints being passed down the rows. I told someone not long ago that I had seen Steppenwolf…and immediately thought, “Steppenwolf? Holy shit, I’m old!” Old enough that when I saw this superstar line-up of George Thorogood, Loverboy, Journey and the Rolling Stones together the ticket price was only $15!!

Rolling Stones stub cropped

That was one crazy concert with a really cr-aazy crowd. It was held at Orchard Park’s Rich Stadium, former home of the Buffalo Bills. Orchard Park was never quite the same after that show. First of all, there were a zillion people standing in line and for some reason the stadium folks just would not open the gates. We stood out there forever. Everyone was starting to get antsy and irritated and we all stood around bitching until a few unruly and angry folks decided to bust through the fence. Well, you can imagine what happened next. First one panel of fence was down and a few people squeezed through. Then another panel started going down, and another, and another and suddenly it became a tsunami of people rushing and crawling over trampled fencing. But alas, we were in.

We found our seats and were excited as we settled in, waiting for the first band to come out. It started to rain. It wasn’t bad at first, just a little shower, but then the sky opened up and dumped buckets of cold rain upon us. People were covering up with tarps and whatever else we could find. But the show went on. It poured like a motherfucker the whole time, all through George Thorogood’s performance, all through Loverboy’s, through Journey’s. But what happened next was so mind-blowing …well, maybe moreso because we were all stoned… but even to this day I tingle when I think about it. It’s still pouring, pouring, pouring, I’m talkin’ practically torrential, when Mick Jagger runs out on stage and, I’m not kidding, this truly happened simultaneously, as soon as he reached the mike, the rain. just. stopped. The sun burst out and we were suddenly sitting under blue skies. And for a few moments, everyone stopped and the entire stadium took a collective breath of disbelief. What timing! It was crazy.

(I actually found the Stones’ set list for that concert. You can check it out here.)

And then there was the time at the Black Sabbath/Blue Oyster Cult concert –the Black & Blue tour they called it — when Blue Oyster Cult started to play “E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence),” one of their songs that didn’t get a lot of radio play but happened to be my favorite song on their album, and I shot up out of my seat, arm up over my head, fist pump and a scream Yeeah! And for what seemed like a really long minute, I was the only one standing in the entire convention center because I knew the song from the squeak of the first note while it took the rest of the people a few notes before they figured out what song it was. It was a weird moment, but a cool one.

I had gone to this concert with my friend Chris, one of the funniest guys you’d ever meet, who could keep me laughing for hours. Like the time we were trippin’ and walking around his neighborhood: well, not quite AROUND his neighborhood. We’d walk a few steps and then stop because we were laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe let alone walk; we were out in the street, laughing hysterically for nearly two hours and the farthest we got from his house was three houses down the road, probably in all a total of 180 feet. Anyway, that’s another story. So here we are back at the Black & Blue concert in the Niagara Falls Convention Center and don’t ya know we ended up getting stuck in the middle of what looked like a never-ending row of seats. It wasn’t like that when we sat down. We had great floor seats, 9th row from the stage, dead center. Of course the middle section was flanked by two other sections, one on the right, one on the left (duh!) with walkways separating the three sections. Well, sometime during Blue Oyster Cult’s set, people had moved up to get closer and their chairs filled both walkways. So when the lights went up for intermission, we got up so we could go use the lavatories but stopped short when we saw the row configuration had changed. We looked in both directions and then at each other and both of us, in unison, said, “Nah. We can wait.” We psyched ourselves into believing that we didn’t have to pee THAT bad when really we were just too high to try to navigate through and over the sea of people.

“And then there was this time at the ZZ Top concert…”

“And OMG, at the Aerosmith concert…”

“And here’s what happened at the Supertramp show…”

“Plus the time we were at the Who concert in DC…”

“And then there was this time at the Doobie Brothers and Outlaws concert…”

And on and on I could go. So yeah, I can totally relate to this cartoon. I can fully see myself sitting around with a bunch of old men boasting about how many concerts we’d been to, who had the best seats, who had front row seats, who had the best weed, and all the crazy shenanigans we reveled in back in the day.

I ought to start making my list now before my mid-life memory starts to fade. Thankfully I have a drawer full of concert ticket stubs to help me out if I hit a snag…

Let me hear some of your concert memories! Let’s trip down memory lane together here in the comment section… 

Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.