The popular songs of our youth and our salad years continue to evoke a visceral reaction when we hear them on the radio or other media. Often they transport us back to a period or a specific event in our lives, usually one that calls up fond memories. Sadly, our current circumstances and especially our bodies aren’t quite up to the task of recreating those times in reality. Because of this, I’m rethinking some classic tunes to provide more age appropriate images.
The song that immediately comes to my mind as having new meaning is Hank Locklin’s 1960 hit: Please Help Me I’m Falling. No longer about love, this is to be taken literally. It brings up some related titles with slightly new lyrics. “Walk right in, trip right down, daddy let your pants hang down.” This 1963 Rooftop Singers hit is now a call to action: tighten your Sansabelts or get some suspenders. For women there’s the variation of Nancy Sinatra’s 1966 chart topper: These Danskos Are Made for Walkin’.
This brings me to the subject of downsizing our homes and looking for a place with a first floor master suite so there are fewer stairs to deal with. Remember The Animals 1965 smash We Gotta Get Out of This Place? You’ll know it’s time if your new favorite oldie is Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, best known as the theme song from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. A smaller house means fewer entrances and One Less Bell to Answer (á la the 5th Dimension in 1970).
Another group of tunes that have strong connections to seniors are sleep-related. Sometimes it’s due to a snoring spouse—All Night Long (Lionel Ritchie 1983). Sometimes it’s just chronic insomnia. Or too much caffeine late in the day. Or not enough wine in the evening. All of which lead us to the 5th Dimension’s I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All (but not for the reasons they had in mind in 1972). How about Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence as a wishful-thinking lullaby?
We also have some songs that relate directly to health issues that are common among folks my age. I especially like Jay and the Americans’ 1964 hit, Come A Little Bit Closer, because I can’t hear you when you’re So Far Away (thank you Carole King). Or my favorite before-and-after pairing of adapted lyrics. “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s a cataract.” Followed after successful laser surgery with “I can see clearly now the film is gone.”
Then there’s the revisionary tune for diabetics—A Spoonful of Splenda (Makes the Medicine Go Down). Thanks to The Searchers in 1964, we also have a title for the sensation older folks often get in their toes at night: Needles and Pins.
Once we retire, we don’t get regular social updates at the office anymore. Unless everyone we care about is active on Facebook, you can be pretty certain that if we know what’s going on, it’s because, like Marvin Gaye, we Heard It Through the Grapevine.
We also have some senior anthems that need no explanation. They’ve simply taken on new importance as we’ve aged. There’s the 1964 Bob Dylan classic The Times They Are A Changin’. They are indeed, and the smart ones among us are committed to changing along with them. That’s because, to quote the Bee Gees, we know that it’s one of the best ways to keep Stayin’ Alive.