Monday’s Music Moves Me – Songs About Aging & Getting Old(er) – Part 4 of 4: TIME TRAVEL

It’s the final Monday in this month of October and I’ve been thrilled to be the Honorary Co-Host of the Monday’s Music Moves Me blog hop. I’d like to thank Marie and all the other hostesses, Cathy, Alana, Stacy & Collette, for such a warm welcome into the circle of 4M co-hosting. I’d also like to thank all the 4M participants for playing along with my two themes this month. I hope you all have had as much fun with them as I have. This final week is a Freebie and I’m looking forward to seeing what you all have put together. My freebie offering is the last of my Songs About Aging and Getting Old(er) Series.

Today’s post is PART 4 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 Part 3 is titled something that I find myself saying all too often lately, Gettin’ Old Ain’t for Sissies! and can be found here.

As for the series’ finale, Part 4 songs explore traveling through life’s paths with all its twists and turns along the way. Join me in a playlist of fabulous time-traveling songs.


Here is a list of the songs in this playlist, with a little background info for ya:

The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles (1970) – “The Long and Winding Road” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1970 album Let It Be. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. When issued as a single in May 1970, a month after the Beatles’ break-up, it became the group’s 20th and last number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It was the final single released by the world’s most famous quartet, commonly referred to as the Fab Four.

FUN FACT: Paul McCartney offered this song to Tom Jones in 1968 on the condition it be his next single. He had “Without Love (There is Nothing)” set for release so he turned down the offer, something he would later regret. Speaking with Media Wales in 2012, Jones explained: “I saw him (McCartney) in a club called Scotts Of St. James on Jermyn Street in London. I said to him ‘When are you going to write me a song then Paul?’ He said, ‘aye I will then.’ Then not long after he sent a song around to my house, which was ‘The Long And Winding Road,’ but the condition was that I could do it but it had to be my next single.

Paul wanted it out straight away. At that time I had a song called ‘Without Love’ that I was going to be releasing. The record company was gearing up towards the release of it. The timing was terrible, but I asked if we could stop everything and I could do ‘The Long And Winding Road.’ They said it would take a lot of time and it was impractical, so I ended up not doing it. I was kicking myself. I knew it was a strong song.”

“Without Love” did well for Jones – it reached #5 in the US and #10 in the UK, but didn’t have anywhere near the staying power of this Beatles classic. Jones did eventually record a Paul McCartney song, but not until 2012 when Paul wrote “(I Want To) Go Home,” which was released on Jones’ album Spirit in the Room.

FUN FACT: This was the only Beatles song where John Lennon played bass. He was ordinarily their rhythm guitarist. Harrison and Ringo had their parts removed by Phil Spector, so they don’t appear on this at all.

This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore by Elton John (2001) – This piano ballad finds Elton John in a reflective mood, looking back on his past glories and thinking about how he feels now. Using a railroad metaphor, he sings about how he used to be a huge star (“the main express”), but now he’s done with those days (“this train don’t stop there anymore”).

These are not the words of Elton John, but of his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, who throws light on one side of Elton’s personality. His days of high excess may have ended, but Elton’s train kept going and making lots of stops along the way, as he kept touring, continuing to put on grand performances.

The song has a very memorable video directed by David LaChapelle and starring Justin Timberlake as a young Elton John at the height of his fame. Timberlake walks in slow motion as he lip-syncs the track, mingling with fans and industry associates along the way. Paul Reubens also appears in the clip.

Stop This Train by John Mayer (2006) – The song “Stop this Train” was written during a time of, what Mayer calls, “solitary refinement;” He was in bed suffering from double kidney stones and living in a hotel while finding a new residence. He explained to the Daily Mail December 21, 2007 that this song about getting older touched on a time when he suffered from a ‘quarter-life crisis’ in 2001: “My 20s were so great I could have rented them out. But, at 27, I crashed. Now, at 30, I’m more settled.”

My Generation by The Who (1965) – from the My Generation album this song is the Who’s most recognizable song. A nod to the mod counterculture of the time, one outstanding line in the lyrics is “I hope I die before I get old.” In 1965, Roger Daltrey stood by this song’s lyric and claimed he would kill himself before reaching 30 because he didn’t want to get old. When he did get older, he answered the inevitable questions about the “hope I die before I get old” line by explaining that it is about an attitude, not a physical age.

Pete Townshend wrote this for rebellious British youths known as “Mods.” It expressed their feeling that older people just don’t get it. The song has been said to have “encapsulated the angst of being a teenager.” Townshend wrote this on a train ride from London to Southampton on May 19, 1965 – his 20th birthday. In a 1987 Rolling Stone magazine interview, Townshend explained: “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief.”

Incredibly brief it was for The Who drummer Keith Moon: he died of a drug overdose in 1978 at age 32.

Back in 1967, Pete Townshend called this song “The only really successful social comment I’ve ever made.” Talking about the meaning, he explained it as “some pilled-up mod dancing around, trying to explain to you why he’s such a groovy guy, but he can’t because he’s so stoned he can hardly talk.”

Roger Daltrey sang the lead vocals with a stutter, which was very unusual. After recording two takes of the song normally, their manager Kit Lambert suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British kid on speed. Daltrey recalled to Uncut magazine October 2001: “I have got a stutter. I control it much better now but not in those days. When we were in the studio doing ‘My Generation’, Kit Lambert came up to me and said ‘STUTTER!’ I said ‘What?’ He said ‘Stutter the words – it makes it sound like you’re pilled’ And I said, ‘Oh… like I am!’ And that’s how it happened. It was always in there, it was always suggested with the ‘f-f-fade’ but the rest of it was improvised.”

The song was released as a single on October 29, 1965, reaching No. 2 in the UK, The Who’s highest charting single in their home country but it never cracked the Top 40 in America, reaching only No. 74. I found that an odd fact, given the song’s wild popularity and frequency of air-play.

Turn Turn Turn by the Byrds (1965) – “Turn! Turn! Turn!” – sometimes known as “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)” – is a song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s. The lyrics, except for the title, which is repeated throughout the song, and the final two lines, are adapted word-for-word from the English version of the first eight verses of the third chapter of the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. The song was originally released in 1962 as “To Everything There Is a Season” on folk group the Limeliters’ RCA album Folk Matinee and then some months later on Seeger’s own The Bitter and the Sweet.

The song became an international hit in late 1965 when it was adapted by the American folk rock group the Byrds. The single entered the record chart at number 80 on October 23, 1965, before reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on December 4, 1965. In Canada, it reached number three on Nov. 29, 1965, and also peaking at number 26 on the UK Singles Chart.

The song is notable for being one of a few instances in popular music in which a large portion of the Bible is set to music, other examples being the Melodians’ “Rivers of Babylon”, Sister Janet Mead’s “The Lord’s Prayer”, U2’s “40”, Sinead O’Connor’s “Psalm 33” and Cliff Richard’s “The Millennium Prayer”.

The song’s plea for peace and tolerance struck a nerve with the American record buying public as the Vietnam War escalated. The single also solidified folk rock as a chart trend and, like the band’s previous hits, continued the Byrds’ successful mix of vocal harmony and jangly twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar playing. Pete Seeger expressed his approval of the Byrds’ rendering of the song.

A Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon & Garfunkel (1966) – “A Hazy Shade of Winter” is a song by American music duo Simon & Garfunkel, released on October 22, 1966 initially as a stand-alone single, but was subsequently included on the duo’s fourth studio album, Bookends (1968). The song peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Paul Simon wrote the song and uses seasons as a metaphor for the cycle of life. Dating back to Simon’s days in England in 1965, the song follows a hopeless poet, with “manuscripts of unpublished rhyme”, unsure of his achievements in life.

Like “Turn, Turn, Turn”, this is another song that uses the ebb and flow of nature as a metaphor for the cycle of life. Now in the winter of life, or old age, the central character reflects on the “springtime” of his youth and decisions he made. The singer seems to be lamenting how he was looking for something (or someone) perfect, but never found it, and now time is running out on his dreams.

The lyrics recall the transition from fall to winter, repeated in the final chorus of the song:

I look around,
leaves are brown
And the sky
is a hazy shade of winter

Look around,
leaves are brown
There’s a patch of snow on the ground.

Fade In/Fade Out by Nothing More (2017) – Nothing More is an American rock band from San Antonio, Texas. Formed in 2003, the band spent much of the 2000s recording independent albums and struggling to maintain a steady lineup or attract record label interest. Towards the end of the decade, the band’s long-time drummer, Jonny Hawkins, decided to switch to being the band’s frontman and lead vocalist, stabilizing the band’s core lineup along with other long-time members Mark Vollelunga (guitar) and Daniel Oliver (bass). The band self-funded and recorded their fourth studio album, Nothing More, over the course of three years and used it to gain the attention of Eleven Seven Music record label, who signed the band to a five album record contract upon hearing it. The album became the band’s breakthrough release in 2014, with multiple charting singles, including “This is the Time (Ballast)”, which hit number 1 on the Mediabase Active Rock chart and number 2 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and “Mr. MTV”, Jenny”, and “Here’s to the Heartache” all charting in the top 15 of both charts.

The band began working on a follow-up in 2016 while continuing to tour in support of their self-titled release, and in September 2017, released their fifth studio album – their second on a major record label – The Stories We Tell Ourselves.

“Fade In/Fade Out” is from that album. Said Mark Vollelunga:

“I got the idea for this song when my wife and I finally decided on the name of our son, Fenix. I can only hope that my fire continues to burn in him long after I fade out; the same fire my father passed on to me. May we all remember our parents and never let words or feelings left unsaid. Don’t let it be too late.”

Yesterday, When I Was Young by Roy Clark (1969) – French singer-songwriter Charles Aznavour wrote and recorded this in 1964 as “Hier Encore,” or “Only Yesterday.” Herbert Kretzmer wrote the English-language lyrics that tell of a man reflecting on his life. He recounts how he had wasted his youth on self-centered pursuits, and that, now that he is older, he will not be able to do all that he had planned; this implies that he may be close to his impending death.

Country singer Roy Clark, who had just started his long-running gig as the co-host of Hee Haw, covered the song in 1969 and landed in the Top 10 on the country chart. Peaking at #19, this was Clark’s highest-charting hit on the pop tally and his only entry in the Top 40. In Canada, the song reached #7 on the pop chart, #2 on the country chart, and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Clark’s spoken-word intro leads into a somber recollection of a wasted youth that led to a lonely adulthood:

It seems the love I’ve known

Has always been the most destructive kind

I guess that’s why now

I feel so old

Before my time

FUN FACT: Clark honored a request from Mickey Mantle and sang this at the former New York Yankee’s funeral in 1995.

Young at Heart by Frank Sinatra (1953) – This pop standard was written by Johnny Richards and Carolyn Leigh. Originally an instrumental by Richards called “Moonbeam,” it became “Young at Heart” when Leigh added the lyrics. Frank Sinatra, who had been absent from the pop charts for a few years, came back with a million-selling hit when he was the first to record the song in 1953. Three years after releasing it as a single, he would include it on his 1956 album This Is Sinatra!

Sinatra’s friend and frequent arranger Nelson Riddle introduced him to the song. “Nelson told me he had a song that had been floating around Vine Street [Capitol Records] and other companies for weeks or months,” he recalled in Frank Sinatra: An American Legend by Nancy Sinatra. “‘I think it’s a good song,’ Nelson said, ‘but nobody wants to do it.’ I didn’t even ask him if I could hear it. I just said let’s do it, and it turned out to be ‘Young at Heart.’ We did a single, and it was a big hit.”

The single was so successful on the (pre-Billboard Hot 100) pop charts that the film Sinatra was working on with Doris Day was renamed Young at Heart. The song plays during the opening and closing credits.

Forever Young by Rod Stewart (1988) – “Forever Young” is the second single released by Rod Stewart from his Out of Order album in 1988. The song was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #12, and #7 on the Canadian RPM Magazine charts.

The structure of the lyrics in this song is very similar to a Bob Dylan song of the same title. After its completion, the song was then sent to Dylan, asking whether he had a problem with it. The two men agreed to participate in the ownership of the song and share Stewart’s royalties.

Stewart wrote the song with two of his band members: guitarist Jim Cregan and keyboardist Kevin Savigar. Stewart told Mojo magazine in 1995 that he considered “Forever Young” to be one of his favorite songs and the reason for writing it was:

“I love ‘Forever Young’, because that was a real heartfelt song about my kids. I suddenly realized I’d missed a good five years of Sean and Kimberly’s life because I was so busy touring all the time. With these kids now I don’t make that mistake- I take them on tour with me, so I can watch them grow up. So that’s another favorite. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a big hit in England, but it’s like a national anthem here (America)”.

The video for this song features Stewart singing to a child [played by Alex Zuckerman] while scenes of rural America pass by.

Both Sides Now by Judy Collins (1968) – “Both Sides, Now” is one of the best-known songs of Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. First recorded by Judy Collins, it appeared on the U.S. singles chart during the fall of 1968. The next year it was included on Mitchell’s album Clouds (which was named after a lyric from the song). It has since been recorded by dozens of artists, including Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson and Herbie Hancock.

Shortly after Mitchell wrote the song, Judy Collins recorded the first commercially released version for her 1967 Wildflowers album. In October 1968 the same version was released as a single, reaching #8 on the U.S. pop singles charts by December. It reached #6 in Canada. In early 1969 it won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. The record peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Easy Listening survey and “Both Sides, Now” has become one of Collins’ signature songs. Mitchell disliked Collins’ recording of the song, despite the publicity that its success generated for Mitchell’s own career.

FUN FACT: Judy Collins version is featured as the end title music of the 2018 supernatural horror film Hereditary, written and directed by Ari Aster, in his feature directorial debut. It stars Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro and Gabriel Byrne as a family haunted after the death of their secretive grandmother. It was acclaimed by critics, with Collette’s performance receiving particular praise, and was a commercial success, making over $79 million on a $10 million budget to become the American independent entertainment company A24’s highest-grossing film worldwide. I didn’t see this movie but I want to as I’m a Toni Collette fan.

It Was a Very Good Year by Frank Sinatra (1965) – Ervin Drake wrote this examination of the various stages of his love life – at ages 17, 21 and 35 – for The Kingston Trio in 1961, when he was 42 years old. Frank Sinatra’s 1966 cover is the preferred version, especially for the dignified way he sings the final verse, in which Drake imagines himself looking back from a ripe old age and realizing that every moment is as precious as the last: “Now I think of my life as vintage wine / From fine old kegs / From the brim to the dregs / It poured sweet and clear / It was a very good year.”

Sinatra’s version, with its dramatic vocals and lush instrumentation, won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male in 1966. Gordon Jenkins was awarded Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the Sinatra version. This single peaked at #28 on the U.S. pop chart and became Sinatra’s first #1 single on the Easy Listening charts. That version can be found on Sinatra’s 1965 album September of My Years.

The song recounts the type of girls with whom the singer had relationships at various years in his life: when he was 17, “small-town girls on the village green”; at 21, “city girls who lived up the stair”; at 35, “blue-blooded girls of independent means”. Each of these years he calls “very good”. In the song’s final verse, the singer reflects that he is older, and in the autumn of his years, and he thinks back on his entire life “as vintage wine”. All of these romances were sweet to him, like a wine from a very good (i.e., vintage) year.

Ervin Drake’s inspiration to write the song was his then wife-to-be, Edith Vincent Bermaine. She was a showgirl, whom he had dated, and eventually married twenty years after the song was written. Said Ervin Drake on Sinatra’s rendition, arranged by Gordon Jenkins:

“Someone played it to me down a telephone. It wasn’t a great phone line, but I knew I’d heard a masterpiece, and I fell in love with it, and I’ve never stopped loving it.”

The song was covered by a great many over the years. In 1966, nine months after Sinatra charted with his rendition, Della Reese made #99 with her version, which flipped the gender and changed the lyrics appropriately (“Small town boys and soft summer nights,” “blue-blooded boys of independent means”).

FUN FACT: This was parodied on The Simpsons episode “Duffless” (1993) as Homer poured his beloved Duff beer down the drain. He sang:

When I was seventeen

I drank a very good beer

I drank a very good beer

I purchased with a fake I.D.

My name was ‘Brian McGee’

I stayed up listening to Queen

When I was seventeen…

Back in Time by Huey Lewis and the News (1985) – I would be remiss if I didn’t include this song in a collection called Time Travel. “Back in Time” is a song by Huey Lewis and the News written for and featured in the 1985 film Back to the Future, the top-grossing film of 1985. The song is heard near the end of the film when Marty McFly wakes up in his own bed, after returning from 1955, to the song playing on the radio. The lyrics are essentially a summary of the movie.

It is also played during the closing credits. Lewis wrote the song with his bandmates Johnny Colla, Chris Hayes and Sean Hopper specifically for the film, incorporating plot elements in the lyrics:

Tell me, doctor

Where are we going this time?

Is this the ’50s?

Or 1999?

In contrast to the band’s number-one hit from the movie, “The Power of Love”, the lyrics for “Back in Time” specifically refer to the story and characters of the film.

Although not released as a commercially available single, the song (mixed by Bob Clearmountain) reached number three in September 1985 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. The video for the song features bloopers and “never-before-seen” clips from the band’s other hit videos, including “I Want a New Drug”, “If This Is It”, “Heart of Rock & Roll”, and “Heart and Soul”.

100 Years by Five for Fighting (2003) – “100 Years” is a song by American singer John Ondrasik (born January 7, 1965), known by his stage name Five for Fighting. Best known for his piano-based rock, he adopted the name “Five for Fighting”, an ice hockey term that means a five-minute major penalty for participating in a fight. Ondrasik is a lifelong fan of the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings.

“100 Years” was released in November 2003 as the first single from the album The Battle for Everything. The song’s melody is borrowed from “Plainsong” by The Cure, originally released in 1989. The single reached number one on the US Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100.

This song is a simple reminder about how precious life is. How we should sink in every moment. How we should look up to what we have. John Ondrasik wrote the lyrics about his life: when he was 15 he couldn’t find a girl, at 22 he found the girl and got married, at 33 he had his first child.

The music video was directed by Trey Fanjoy and premiered in January 10, 2004. It placed at number 30 on VH1’s Top 40 Music Video Countdown of 2004, spending 18 weeks on VH1’s weekly Top 20 countdown. The video shows Ondrasik at a magic piano where he appears at various life stages: images of Ondrasik singing and playing the song at the piano are intercut with fictional, idealized versions of himself as a 15-year-old boy, a man in his middle 40s, and a 99-year-old man, reflecting the song’s lyrics. At the end of the song, Ondrasik meets his older self.

“The sea is high

And I’m heading into a crisis

Chasing the years of my life”

The Best is Yet to Come by HinderHinder is an American rock band from Oklahoma that was formed in 2001 by lead singer Austin Winkler, guitarist Joe “Blower” Garvey, and drummer Cody Hanson. The band released four studio albums with Winkler; Extreme Behavior (2005), Take It to the Limit (2008), All American Nightmare (2010) and Welcome to the Freakshow (2012). After Winkler left the band in 2013, they looked for a new lead vocalist, and added Marshal Dutton. When The Smoke Clears (2015) was Hinder’s first album featuring the new lead vocalist. The band was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 2007.

This song is from their 2008 album Take It to the Limit. Drummer Cody Hanson told MTV News that he thinks a lot of people will relate to this track, “because it’s a song about all those dumb things that you do when you’re young, and you just learn to embrace it, because that’s what happens in life – you learn from it, and things get better as you get older.”

It can be hard for musicians to pick just one of their favorite songs from their own catalogues because their songs are so personal, but in 2012, Cody Hanson told us that “The Best is Yet to Come” was one of his picks.

Hmm. The best is yet to come. Is it? Is it really?? You tell me…

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

And that concludes my series on Songs About Aging and Getting Old(er). As one who is painfully aware of the aging process of late, I’ve enjoyed exploring the songs that speak to life’s inevitable process. I hope you’ve enjoyed coming along on this journey with me. 

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 and Colette of Jamerican Spice and Alana of Ramlin’ with AM. Be sure to stop by and visit the hosts and the other participants listed below:


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.


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


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: