Seventy-Four and There’s So Much More (With Apologies to Neil Young)

“Old man, look at my life / I’m a lot like you were /Old man, look at my life / I’m a lot like you were / Old man, look at my life / Twenty-four, and there’s so much more.”

I loved those lines from Neil Young’s Old Man when I was twenty-four. I left the Midwest for Tucson at twenty-three, and a month later at twenty-four I was living in Tucson and knew I was a Westerner.

But Neil, you need to do a rewrite now.

“Young one, look at my life / I was a lot like you are / Young one, look at my life / I was a lot like you are / Young one, look at my life / Seventy-four and there’s so much more.”

I don’t yet know what the “much more” is, but to be sure, I plan on going after it.

Some of that “more” will include sorting, tossing, packing, and moving, though to where I don’t know. But it will be a place with public transportation and good medical facilities.

Part of the “more” will involve travel to places near and far and especially travel to be with my family. 

Most likely a part of the “more” will include a cat one day. An indoor cat. No more feline mass murderers in my home. 

Before Neil Young sang of  being twenty-four, there’d been songs with ages in them. Chuck Berry’s Sweet Little Sixteen. Janis Ian’s At Seventeen

When I did a Google search, I found there are many more songs with ages in their titles. Most are by people or groups I’ve never heard of and mention ages sixteen to twenty-five. Very telling about our culture.

One didn’t fit that mold, though. The next song I related to was John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High

“He was born in the summer of his 27th year / Coming home to a place he’d never been before / He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again / You might say he found a key for every door.”

I was twenty-seven when I moved to Bisbee. It was winter. But by the summer of my twenty-seventh year, I knew I’d come home, to a place I’d never been before. You might say I was born again, into a community of hippies and I felt I’d found a key to quite a number of doors.

Key? Ha. In those days, no one locked their doors.

Then there were no more songs with ages in them, at least not that I recall, until sixty-four. When I finally caught up to the Beatles’ When I’m Sixty-Four, well, I still liked the song, but the line “Will you still need me, will you still feed me / When I’m sixty-four” held little meaning since I didn’t much need to be needed and anyway, I was feeding myself. 

Feeding myself a bit too much, actually, since I was at least thirty pounds overweight. Glad I’ve corrected that. 

There was one more song that spoke to me though it wasn’t about a specific age. It spoke to me long ago and does so even more clearly today. It’s John Prine’s Hello in There.

“You know that old trees just grow stronger / And old rivers grow wilder every day / Old people just grow lonesome / Waiting for someone to say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’”

But Neil, now that I’m seventy-four, please do a rewrite on Old Man and call it Young One. You can use my suggested opening lines. They are all I can come up with, but please pick up on it, okay?

Published by Emilie

I'm a retired instructor from a community college where I taught Developmental English and Reading as well as English as a Second Language. I'm also now a published author of a bilingual children's book entitled. Luisa the Green Sea Turtle - Luisa la Tortuga Verde del Mar. It's available from me, through Amazon, and is in a few (more and more each day!) bookstores.

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17 Comments

  1. The pressure to represent 91 is enormous! How can I say it? It is a privilege not given to many to enter one’s tenth decade, but to do so in a time of roiling catastrophe is not fun. Heroes die (RBG), fascist dictators prevail, fire is just over the next mountain, disease menaces. On the other hand, centuries of oppression are being flung off in the streets and we all can join full-heartedly in the struggle. Babies are born to remind us there might be a future. A young Sweden girl .leads the world in an effort to save it’s shriveling skin. I still walk a couple of miles a day (alone, with mask). I still enjoy good coffee and tasty meals. My supply chain consists of friends who risk shopping to keep me fed. I like to imagine that the gift of old age: “to walk with death at my left shoulder,” as Castaneda said it, is to mature and strengthen the species for the wonderful work of becoming constructive partners on the planet. Hanging in there, staying open, supporting each other, finding joy in SoulCollage or music, the change of season, or each other’s words in a blog, is vital, even if it might be futile. I believe in Life.

    1. Oh, Marybeth, I don’t even know how to respond to this.
      First, please understand what a privilege it is to know. You have been a role model of mine since I met you. I’m trying to remember when that was exactly. Late 90s, I believe.
      Interesting, I don’t feel the same thing about babies. When I see a baby today I look at the parents and think, “Don’t they know?” Or worse, “How stupid could they be?”
      We haven’t left much of a world, have we?
      We have poisoned our Earth and our ocean. We have nearly run the West out of water while we burn it down and consume precious water to contain the flames. We have over populated the entire planet.
      In our quest to explore, we have trashed the trails to the world’s tallest mountains and we have trashed space.
      We have paid the rich far more than any human beings are worth while assuring that others starve.
      Frankly, there are many days I cannot bear for humans to survive.
      But … here I am. I try to be fairly gentle on Earth most of the time. I try to be kind to others most of the time though some people make me so crazy I want to lash out.
      Although I don’t believe we deserve this planet, I want to stay here and enjoy it as long as I am able. You inspire me so much!
      Sorry, pretty rambling response to what you said. I thank you for your kind and beautiful words.

  2. Haha I did the same thing recently and tried to find songs with ages in the title and I was disappointed to find there’s a gap in the middle. There’s loads about being young. 16 or 18 or 25 then there’s a couple about being old but then that’s it. I ended up writing my own song about it haha

  3. Happy happy birthday my wonderful and FAVORITE Aunt Emilie! ❤️ This is fantastic- And I’m looking forward to Neil’s highly anticipated new release 😁 There is definitely SO much more- and the best is yet to come! I love you so much!!!

  4. Thanks for this. I am 68 and sometimes wonder if it’s worth continuing. We definitely live in challenging times. I pray the election outcome gives us hope for the future.

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