Music has always been a big part of my life. I’m sure that’s true for many people, I know it’s true for some of my friends. The music of our youth shapes us even to this day. It added color to our memories, and still keeps much of those “good ole’ days” vibrant and alive, even if tempered with time.
I always find it fascinating that I have to work at remembering names of people I’ve just met, yet just the first few notes (can you name that tune?) of The Sounds of Silence or April Come She Will and I can recite the lyrics without fail.
I often listen to the 60s channel on Sirius XM and, except for a few obscure songs, can sing along with almost every tune.
Pleasant Valley Sunday, I’m a Believer, Shiloh, Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?, and on to the days of Good Times Bad Times, Stairway to Heaven, Smoke on the Water, the sound of the first few notes or rhythmic beat of the drums and I am sixteen once again.
Born to be Wild… indeed.
In my senior year of high school, 1974, the theme of the prom was Seals & Croft’s We May Never Pass This Way Again. I didn’t attend the prom, choosing (or perhaps because I may not have had a choice) to experience (with several other option-less friends) a more cinematic cultural experience at a rather chic drive-in movie location, accompanied by fine, hand-crafted ales, and facilitated by our well-altered fake Id’s attesting to my being a mature 19-year-old and thus able to appreciate the fine art and refreshments.
I don’t recall the name of the movie, nor the actors, nor the theme of the story. Sometimes what seems to be a good use of time at the moment turns out not to be so. Such is life, but regrets never accomplished anything.
My point for revisiting that moment in time was the appropriateness of the theme. While we may have loved the music, and can still sing all the words, we didn’t appreciate how prophetic those words were or how quickly the time between those moments and now would pass.
Now I find myself a part another song from that era.
In 1967 (FIFTY-THREE YEARS AGO) the Beatles released the song, When I’m Sixty-Four. At the time of its release, me and most of my friends were eleven years old. Old people were sixty-four. Antique cars were sixty-four. Dinosaurs were sixty-four.
I could not grasp the concept of BEING sixty-four.
Now I am fast approaching sixty-four.
“Will you still need me, will you still feed me?
When I’m sixty-four?”
Yet even as I approach this now seemingly young age–60 is the new 40, or so I tell myself–the lyrics and music of those days still reside, alive and well-cared for, deep in my memory.
Of all the many songs and artists of those days— Neil Diamond, Harry Chapin, Chicago, Blood, Sweat, & Tears—Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel remain my favorites. Even today, with my fingers battered and bruised from an active life, tinged with arthritis, I can still pick up my guitar and play the songs.
Simon had a way with words and a masterful ear for setting music to his poetic lines. One of my favorites, interestingly enough also about the aging process although that was far from my mind back then, is the song Old Friends from the Bookends album.
Sat on their park bench
A newspaper blown through the grass
Falls on the round toes
On the high shoes
Of the old friends
The old men
Lost in their overcoats
Waiting for the sunset
The sounds of the city
Sifting through trees
Settle like dust
On the shoulders
Of the old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear
Time it was
And what a time it was
It was. ..
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago. .. it must be. ..
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you
(Music and Lyrics by Paul Simon)
Sixty-four a moment away, seventy on the horizon…preserve your memories and sing the songs of your halcyon days. We will never pass this way again.