I read the news today, as indeed I do every day (usually without immediately thinking of Beatles lyrics). A very silly article caught my eye: a “study” by Anglia Ruskin university, about pop lyrics and ageing. It seems that old peoples’ health is negatively affected by the fact that pop lyrics are overwhelmingly negative about old age. Surely older people are more prone to ill health, which is kinda why young people don’t exactly look forward to getting old. I would hazard a guess that depressed people take song lyrics to heart rather more than the rest of us do. So that study has proved, errr, that being old sucks.
The study authors are quoted as saying ” it is important that awareness is raised and some efforts are made to reduce these negative stereotypes.” They appear to be implying that musicians have some sort of social obligation not to upset anyone with their lyrics. That would make it rather pointless to write any songs, ever. The vast majority of songs are about the various vagaries of the human condition, and they reflect rather more eloquently than I do all the things that we stupid humans get emotional about – mostly unrequited love, broken hearts, wrong choices, and fear of death. Of course they’re negative about old age; most of the writers are young, and their whole industry is obsessed with staying relevant to whatever they think the Zeitgeist is. Every age-related milestone after 25 haunts us, until we reach it, and then it doesn’t seem so bad. I was terrified of turning 30, thinking I couldn’t wear short skirts any more, or bikinis, or really have an opinion about anything. I went on a massive diet, wore gold hot pants to my birthday, bought some hand cream, and eight years later I’ve realised your body is only really stuffed when you have kids. And I’m sure when I’m 50, I would give anything to have my 38 year old body back.
The song that often makes me the saddest isn’t even about the future any more; Disco 2000 by Pulp was I think written in 1995 (can’t be arsed to look it up), and I last heard it in Sainsbury’s, as I was on my weekly schlepp around with a crazy toddler and a screaming baby. It’s all about how he’ll meet up with his friends from school in the dim and distant future of the year 2000:
Let’s all meet up in the year 2000
Won’t it be strange when we’re all fully grown
I want so much to meet up in the year 2000, with all my friends from college, before we all got so damn boring and competitive about who was successful. I want to be 22 again, with so much energy, so much time on my hands, and absolutely zero appreciation of anything. I didn’t have to keep a household, pay any bills, change nappies, give a fuck about what the children eat every day. Didn’t really have to give a fuck about anything except the weekly pretence of writing an essay, which I usually did between 10 pm and 3 am, made a pathetic attempt at tidying up the messy thinking the next morning, and my tutor politely pretended I’d made some sort of effort.
I was going to write about some more songs that are about ageing, but it’s kind of dull and the baby is screaming again. But you know, fuck it, there’s always Guns n Roses:
Take me down
To the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty