When I was growing up, all those years ago, the age of majority in the UK was 21, and the occasion was usually marked by a special birthday party. Things began to change in 1969 when the voting age was lowered to 18, giving rise to much confusion: did we now reach majority at 18? Did all those years of tradition have to be thrown out of the window? In typical British style we somehow managed to compromise by counting both as the birthday at which we were suddenly supposed to become mature, and many lucky people had two big birthday celebrations. Me? I had neither! But that may be a story for another day. After going themeless for a couple of weeks I’m returning to the usual plan for this week, and am marking the 21st post in this series with the theme: Growing Up.
There are many songs which talk about what growing up means to us, how a milestone can be a time to both look back and ahead, how it can be a time of reflection and of hope. I had so many from which to choose that I had difficulty even getting the selection down to four songs, so that is what I’m going with.
Where to begin? You just can’t beat the Boss, can you? This song really says a lot about casting off the shackles and constraints that you feel in youth and becoming your own person, and is the ideal launchpad for this week:
As is fairly obvious from the images in the video, this was on Bruce’s debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, which was released in January 1973. As debut albums go, it didn’t do badly, reaching #41 in the UK albums chart and #60 in the US. Probably helped by later sales, after his career took off in a big way, it has sold around 3m copies. As I said, not bad!
This week’s second tune is one that takes the concept of growing up rather differently – in this case, wishing that a youngster could always stay the way they are. I have previously written a post themed around Taylor Swift’s Never Grow Up (find it in the search box if you’d like to) and Rod Stewart covers similar ground, with a lovely video to match:
From its title you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a Bob Dylan song. It is, in part. Rod borrowed a lot from Bob’s song in writing his own, and asked Bob for permission to use his words. They agreed on a co-writing credit and a 50/50 share of the royalties from Rod’s song. That sounds like a good compromise to me – it avoided the long legal wrangles that other songwriters have found themselves in. The song is included on Rod’s 15th studio album, Out Of Order, released in 1988, which peaked at #11 in the UK and #20 in the US – though it did make #1 in Sweden! The track was the second single released from the album, reaching only #57 in the UK and #12 in the US: I think it deserved better.
The next song for this week takes the theme of looking back on life when major changes have impacted you. John Lennon was 25 when he wrote this reflection on how his life had altered, and how he had grown up, in just three years after the Beatles’ massive success began:
Apologies for the static image, but that is the official video for the 2009 remaster of the track, and offers a huge improvement in quality over previous versions, allowing the song’s simple beauty to really shine. As you probably know, it was on Rubber Soul, which was the Beatles’ sixth album, released in December 1965. Unsurprisingly, it peaked at #1 in both the UK and the US, and in a number of other countries too. Like the other songs on the album, it wasn’t released as a single – the Beatles mostly kept singles and albums apart in those days, though a couple of tracks were released as singles in the US in 1966, one of which – Nowhere Man – reached #1. Here in the UK, we just bought their LPs by the shed load!
Having given you songs from three of the best known acts of all time, this week’s final selection is from one of my favourite bands, who will probably be unknown to most of you. Oysterband were formed in my East Kent homeland, and have been a major feature of the English folk music scene for forty years or so. They are also very popular throughout Europe, but have, as far as I know, never achieved much in the US – you guys have really missed out! This is a song about growing up to the point where the life you’ve known no longer gives you all that you need. I think it bookends this week’s post rather neatly with the Boss. Again, this is solely an album track, but is none the less superb for that:
I never fail to be uplifted by that! I don’t think the Oysters have ever dented the charts, here or anywhere else, but their gigs are always sold out (when we’re allowed to go) and they are a brilliant live band: I know, I’ve seen them! The female singer on that one is Rowan Godel, who isn’t a band member but occasionally lends her powerful vocals to their songs, as well as having her own band. The counterbalance between the two voices really makes that one for me. A little side story: several of the then members of the band were also part of Fiddlers Dram, who had a novelty #3 hit in 1979 with The Day We Went To Bangor. Sadly for them there was no follow up success but, if you’ve heard that song, you’ll probably agree that the current version of the band is far better!
That’s about it for this week. I’m off to celebrate my coming of age with a cup of tea and maybe a Mars bar (other chocolate bars are available). Have a great week, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday. TTFN 👋