My survey of depressing songs continues with a tune about aging that I got on a yard sale CD on Saturday: Frank Sinatra's "It was a Very Good Year," which was a hit for him in 1965.
I remember exactly when I first heard it and I remember especially the sense of disquiet it gave me. I was nine (Sinatra was 50); it was playing on the car radio, and I asked my father questions about the song - why it was so sad, what it was about, etc. My Dad (who was then 53) responded that it was a song about a man who was, "…in the September of his years." This was the first time I ever heard this phrase and I puzzled over it. When exactly can a man be said to be in "the September of his years?"
I once calculated it.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average life expectancy for an American male and female combined is 77. For a white male it's 74.8, but I'll be optimistic and use 77 - after all, I'm a rugger and am therefore tougher than average, right?
Dividing 77 into 12 gives, roughly, 6.4 years. So each "month" of a man's life lasts 6.4 years. Doing the math gives the following result - and you may check to see where you are on life's calendar:
January: birth to 6.4 years.
February: 6.4 to 12.8 years.
March: 12.8 to 19.2 years.
April: 19.2 to 25.6 years.
May: 25.6 to 32 years.
June: 32 to 38.4 years.
July: 38.4 to 44.8 years.
August: 44.8 to 51.2 years.
September: 51.2 to 57.6 years.
October: 57.6 to 64 years.
November: 64 to 70.4 years.
December: 70.4 to 76.8 years.
A few things become apparent:
1. Oh, dear. I, too, am in the autumn of my years, as I am 53. This damn song is about me!
2. This scheme makes some poetic sense. After all, when a man is between 25 to 44 years old he may be said to be in his prime, or high summer, of his years.
3. This scheme kind of falls apart for me in December. That's a jolly, lively month - like the repentant Scrooge. I'd expect one's last failing years to psychologically be more like February (the dead of winter).
There is only one thing more depressing than Frank Sinatra's version of "It Was a Very Good Year": William Shatner's rendition of it. As I don't have an mp3 of it ready, I won't inflict it upon you. Unless, of course, there is a demand...
Hey, check this out - the parrot flower.
I watched my daughter's videotape of "Cats" with her last night; consequently I had that achingly sad tune "Memories" in my head all last night. When you think about it, the major-minor system of music is pretty amazing. It's been around for hundreds of years prior to Cats, but interesting, original music - like Memories - can still be written using it.
I wish I was a better musician than I am. I was trying to figure out what time signature it was written in, but it took me a while. The main theme is in waltz time, 3/4, and that middle section is in a slow 2/4 march time. I think. Wikipedia has a good explanation, but it some animated musical .gifs showing a bouncy ball would be nice.
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