Thursday, April 7, 2022

One-Mind Tracks: We Don't Have to Grow Up

A common criticism of my generation is the idea that we all have Peter Pan syndrome. Supposedly, we all want to stay children forever, no matter how full our facial hair is. Now, I'm not going to blame all of this on the generation before us, but I do distinctly remember every '90s commercial being about how awful adults are and cartoons with parents who were completely devoid of personality. We grew up thinking that being an adult was boring and so it's no surprise that we're reluctant to "grow up." Heck, even this ad for Toys 'R' Us (rest in peace) was telling us not to grow up. 

I think my generation is learning to excel at something special though; we are staying young at heart. The term "adulting" is everywhere and some people really hate it. I've done a 180 about the phrase. At first I didn't like it because I dove headfirst into adulthood as soon as I could...but I've also never felt like an adult. Not even now, at 30. "Adulting" speaks to a larger topic than just doing things the grown-up way or being over an age line. "Adulting" means doing the mature and responsible things you have to do. It implies that you have other times when you can embrace things not considered to be mature. Maybe you're skateboarding, building a Lego masterpiece or just hanging out with your friends and playing video games until late at night. That's perfect. My favorite thing about being an adult is getting to combine traditional "adulting" with a continued love for the things I've always loved. I don't have as much time as I used to, but I love wearing bright, silly outfits. I love having Barbies and toys. They might not be used as much as they used to be but it's all part of just staying young inside. Like what you like, do what you do. That's what this playlist is about also.

"Stay Young, Go Dancing" by Death Cab For Cutie
I picked this track very early on in my planning process. Lead singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard has stated that this track was partly inspired by his then-wife, actress Zooey Deschanel. The declaration of "life is sweet in the belly of the beast" is a reference to him coming to enjoy Los Angeles, a city he nicknamed "the belly of the beast" previously. "Stay Young, Go Dancing" is most likely about a long-term relationship. Yet, it says so much more than just that they'll grow old together. "Through winter's advancing//we'll stay young, go dancing" is a promise that the couple will stay young together even as they age. It's a beautiful sentiment.

"Forever Young" by Bob Dylan
Dylan wrote this one in Tucson, Arizona as a lullaby for his eldest son, Jesse. He had been missing his son, but didn't want to get too sentimental. His album Planet Waves contains two versions of the song: one fast and one slow. "Forever Young" is a lullaby. but also a blessing. Dylan is calling for his son to have many grown-up attributes while still holding onto his youth.

"Patience" by Tame Impala
Kevin Parker of Tame Impala sings of the persistence of time and that "time takes from everyone." His version of staying young is "growing up in stages." Adulthood isn't a black-and-white instant transition, it's a series of decisions. One of those decisions can always be to stay young or to keep some forms of childishness as you gradually add adult responsibilities on.

"Innocence" by Avril Lavigne
Avril Lavigne begs us (or rather, herself) to hold on to innocence. Too often, this is the first thing we lose in our adulthood. Obviously, there are elements of innocence that we typically don't keep forever. "Innocence" isn't about those things though. It's about the appreciation of simple things, giving ourselves the ability to feel truly happy. Adults can be jaded by so many things. Lavigne (and Evan Taubenfeld) just remind us to keep our feelings of positivity close. They remind us to appreciate beautiful and wonderful things in life (which is always a huge element in staying young at heart).

"I Don't Wanna Grow Up" by The Ramones
The long list of things The Ramones don't want to do includes growing up. Tom Waits wrote and originally recorded this song. The Ramones covered it three years later for their final album, ¡Adios Amigos! It totally fits their style, but of course I do want to talk about Waits' songwriting here. Waits has always been a non-conformist so his assertion that he doesn't want to grow up is almost like a mission statement. Not growing up can sometimes just mean not conforming to what society thinks you should do because you're over 18. As long as it isn't hurting anyone, you can do whatever you want to as an adult. It doesn't mean you have to grow up though!

"Give Yourself a Try" by The 1975 [explicit]
The 1975 wrote this track with both autobiographical and fictional elements in an attempt to capture social anxiety and pressure as millennials experience it. The overall message of the song is to have a little faith in yourself. To me, a big part of why my generation doesn't want to grow up seems to be the fact that many of us have low self-esteem and are afraid of failing if we trust in ourselves enough to go for the big, adult life. 

"Alright" by Supergrass
It's amazing that this 27-year-old song seems both more modern and more retro than it is. Lead singer Gaz Coombes stated that the song was not intended as an anthem, but a message to the age group they had recently left, young teenagers. Coombes was nineteen when the song was written, and it was intended as a playful song for those just entering their teen years. In defense of its inclusion on this list, however, I present to you the lyrics, "Are we like you?//I can't be sure//Of the scene, as she turns//We are strange, in our worlds." It seems these teens Coombes imagines are already unsure of their place in the world. They don't know if they're "adults" or not. Of course, we know they aren't, but if we imagine the song being about older people, it does speak to the vulnerability and uncertainty one can feel when not feeling as though they're quite "grown-up."

The One-Mind Tracks Single of the week: "Colorful" b/w "Boring" by Jukebox the Ghost
One-Mind Tracks on the air has started doing a weekly "single," where we take two related songs and group them together. It's not a real single, but please pretend with us. This week, both songs on the single come from Off to the Races, a 2018 album by Jukebox the Ghost. Much of the album explores the topic we're discussing. These two songs are the most relevant to the playlist. "Colorful" says "work hard, play hard//we don't have to grow up" while "Boring" bemoans the fact that the people around the vocalist (Tommy Siegel) are all growing up and "getting boring." He realizes that it's inevitable to "get old and boring" and his best defense is to embrace it. He suggests that the object of his affection is not boring, but even at that, he is fine getting old and boring with her. "Colorful" is the thesis of this whole playlist. We can do all of the adult things required of us without "growing up."

"Changes" by David Bowie
David Bowie wasn't speaking on this theme per se, but the lyrics see a man looking at his younger self and his ideas of success that never panned out. Lines like "don't tell them to grow up and out of it" imply a defense of the young dreamers. Bowie also uses the line "time may change me//but I can't trace time." To me at least, that line says that he recognizes that he's grown older and more mature, but he still doesn't view himself differently because he doesn't even register that a great deal of time has passed. 

"Forever Young" by Rod Stewart
This Rod Stewart track closely follows the formula of the Dylan song from earlier. I think each of these songs are beautiful, even if they serve essentially the same purpose. Stewart doesn't hope for them to "stay forever young" as Dylan does, but he does say that if they follow his advice, they will be forever young in his heart. Stewart wrote this song with his bandmates: guitarist Jim Cregan and keyboardist Kevin Savigar. Like Dylan, Stewart wrote this song for his children. 

"Child" by Lights
Lights wrote this song while pregnant with her first child. The song is an expression of her anxiety leading up to becoming a mother while still feeling like child herself. She sings "what do I know//I'm just a child//trying to talk like a mother does." Lights ends the track with "maybe I'm still trying to see like a child does." Lights is struggling with both ends of the "growing up" in this song. She worries about her ability to "adult" while still hoping that she'll be able to hold onto her childlike qualities.

"Unbelievable" by Owl City (featuring Hanson)
The main theme of "Unbelievable" is nostalgia, which the song relies on heavily. That said, the chorus keeps bringing up the line "you haven't seen nothing yet." To me, that line expresses Owl City's trademark optimism that no matter how awesome the past may have been, there are great things still to come in adulthood. 

"No Guilt" by The Waitresses
Though it's primarily a break-up song about getting on fine without your ex, "No Guilt" makes it onto the list because of how proud the narrator is of her adult responsibilities and handling her life herself. Finding joy in your life is a big part of staying young at heart. 

Catch these songs on the One-Mind Tracks radio show this week! The show starts at 7PM EST on Thursday. You can catch it streaming over at Or you can catch an episode of One-Mind Tracks any Thursday at 7pm!

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a song that fit the theme!

P.S. I didn't watch the video for Rod Stewart's "Forever Young" at first but I kept looking at the video's thumbnail. It wasn't until I put it in this article that I realized that's a real kid and not a ventriloquist dummy. I thought it was set to be a really strange video.

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