“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?