by Julia Buckley
Today we attended a family party for the FIVE graduates in my extended family this year: four who are leaving grade school, and one who is off to college. It seemed odd to us that the young people (all of whom are taller than I am) are suddenly, it seems, knocking on the door of adulthood. Meanwhile, we parents looked at one another and said, "Weren't we this young just a couple of years ago?"
Of course we weren't, but time has a way of surprising one. It got me thinking about all the great songs about time. I'm listing my top ten here with the most famous and profound lines from each as a reminder that I'm not the only one disconcerted by the river that is time.
1. TIME IN A BOTTLE by Jim Croce. This was the first one to pop into my head, perhaps because of Croce's poignant reminder to "save every day like a treasure." This is all the more moving because of Croce's early demise.
2. OLD MAN by Neil Young. I heard this on the radio the other day and realized that my sympathies had at some point shifted from from the speaker to the old man, especially after hearing the callous nature of youth in the line "Doesn't mean that much to me to mean that much to you." Still a great song, though.
3. SUNRISE, SUNSET from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Can anyone, young or old, hear this song without crying? I challenge you: here it is, from You Tube.
4. TIME OF YOUR LIFE by Green Day. This is a lovely anthem to a life well-spent, and a well-meaning speaker sings repeatedly "I hope you have the time of your life."
5-7. IN MY LIFE, YESTERDAY, and WHEN I'M 64, by The Beatles. They were still young fellows when they wrote these songs, but they seemed to understand the mystery of time and its power to change things (and yet to leave things the same).
A great example of time is this clip of a very young Paul McCartney singing one of his most famous songs. He's yet to be married and have children, to achieve all sorts of musical milestones, to lose a wife to cancer, to lose another to a bitter divorce. Here time has not yet done its work, and yet the song wistfully recalls an earlier time.
8. BOYS OF SUMMER by Don Henley. One of my favorite wistful lines is "Out on the road today I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac; a little voice inside my head said 'Don't look back, you can never look back.' " So true, Don Henley, and yet everyone does it anyway.
9. CAT'S IN THE CRADLE by Harry Chapin. Only after time has passed does Chapin's speaker, a father, accept that he has shaped his own destiny in neglecting his son. "My boy was just like me . . . " There's another one: can you listen to it without crying? My sons like to sing it to me when they feel I'm neglecting them. Works like a charm.
Here's Chapin singing the song live in 1981, the same year he died at the age of 38.
10. TURN, TURN, TURN by The Byrds. These lyrics were taken from Ecclesiastes in the King James translation of The Bible, and perhaps that's why they have a timeless wisdom. "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
What great songs about TIME would you add to this list?