thoughts on when we stopped being the younger generation
One night not quite three years ago I was sprawled on the couch watching CNN and listening to a couple of pundits talking about how Obama could take the election. The game was to appeal to the younger generation and get them registered, energized and motivated to vote. I thought to myself….they’re talking about me and my friends. And I actually believed it for a few moments…until I recalled that I had just turned fifty-something and was auditioning for the AARP choir. It ain’t me babe.
Why must every generation think they’re folks are square?
And no matter where they’re heads are, they know mom’s aint there.
Cause’ I swore when I was small, that I’d remember when,
I knew what’s wrong with them, that I was smaller than.
I was thinking this morning about when exactly I lost my membership to the younger generation and tried to pinpoint it on a timeline. Maybe it was when my dad passed away many years ago and I recall feeling as if my hyper-extended childhood was over. Or when my first son was born and I needed to act a bit more responsibly….like making sure I didn’t leave him in the shopping cart at the supermarket as I drove away. Yes…it was a real fear of mine.
Determined to remember all the cardinal rules.
Like, sunshowers are legal grounds, for cutting school.
I know I have forgotten maybe one or two.
And I hope that I recall them all before the baby’s due.
And I’ll know he’ll have a question or two.
Two weeks ago I posted something here about the Bruce Springsteen release called The Promise and Kyla contacted me because of the unbelievable amount of traffic and page views it received. When I checked earlier today there were 143 comments left by other readers and it blows me away that so many folks want to chat about a record that originally came out thirty-four years ago. I told Kyla I thought it spoke a lot to the demographics of this site…older. But I think it also speaks to a need for many of us to hold onto our youth until the bitter end.
Like, hey pop. Can I go ride my zoom?
It goes two hundred miles an hour, suspended on balloons.
And can I put a droplet of this new stuff on my tongue?
And imagine puffing dragons, while you sit and wreck your’e lungs.
And I must me permissive, understanding of the younger generation.
When I was a teenager, my dad listened to operas and Sinatra, but he also liked the Beatles and Motown. I remember us sitting in his car outside of Goldstein’s Boys and Men’s Wear on the corner of 6th and Passyunk Avenue (I just checked…they’re still in business. It’s where I got all my husky clothes.) listening to Sgt. Pepper from start to finish the day it was released. Me and my kids listen to a lot of the same music, and maybe it’s partly because I remember how good it felt to share that experience with him. We fought a lot back in the sixties about the war, politics and my hair. But music was the the bridge we used to cross our generation gap.
And then I know that all I’ve learned, my kid assumes.
And all my deepest worries must be his cartoons.
And still I’ll try to tell him all the things I’ve done,
Relating to what he can do when he becomes a man.
And still he’ll stick his fingers in the fan.
Tonight my younger boy…just a few month past his thirteenth birthday…asked me to download a couple of albums for him. One was by the Dead Milkmen and the other was the soundtrack to Rocky Horror. “May I interest you in something a little more current?” I asked. He said “No thank you”. Two weeks ago the older kid went to a ska concert and came home excited that he braved the pit and skanked for a set. And I knew exactly what he meant.
And hey pop, my girlfriend’s only three.
She’s got her own videophone,
And she’s taking LSD.
And now that were best friends, she want’s to give a bit to me.
But whats the matter daddy? How come you’re turning green?
Can it be that you can’t live up to your dreams?
As you can tell, this is kind of a ramble. I think it’s about feeling young while growing old but it might be about something else. Over the weekend my wife and I found out that our next door neighbor from Minnesota had passed away. We lived next to her for six years and she was about my age. She was a singer…weddings, parties and church. My best description of her would be “bundle of energy” and I can still here her laughter ringing in my ears, although it’s been five years since we last saw her. She got cancer in a real bad way. The kind that lasts too long and ravages your body until all that’s left is skin, bones and pain. It’s how my dad went too.
And so it was that death notice that made me wonder about when we stopped being the younger generation. Because some days…I still feel like a kid. And others, not so much.
‘Younger Generation” / Words and Music by John Sebastian