You need to listen to Fun. singing “We are Young” with Janelle Monae because it’s the only reason I’m going to sleep tonight. Click the following link and watch these two singing. Watch them smiling and being in the moment completely. Be young again without having to die a thousand humiliations. Listen. And if you hate it, go ahead and play your Iron Maiden. I won’t be mad if you at least give this link a listen.
Sometimes I feel like I’m chronicling things that will be picked apart by the next generation; by my son and your son and our grandchildren. The things I remember will be picked apart for evidence of truth, for crumbs of absolution, and for self definition, to prove whatever the young wish to prove. I feel disobliging. I worry that the only thing I can prove for anyone is that your truth and my truth and their truths are never going to look exactly the same. I can’t make angels of devils or pretend that youth is innocent and carefree. I suppose it was for people with other truths than mine, but youth as I knew it was a painful emancipation from safety, from anything resembling sleep, from all sense of certainty. Adulthood brought with it greater peace and less violence.
Not sure what I’m trying to say tonight. I think music is saying it for me. When I watch the acoustic video version of Fun.’s song “We Are Young” with Janelle Monae I feel set free of something I didn’t even know was trapped. It’s an old school anthem of youth, of making mistakes, burning through the morning hours. The most charming thing is to watch the singers singing it. They are so clearly enjoying themselves. They are in the moment. There is such a simple joy in recording this song. They keep smiling, especially Nate Ruess, like this moment is the only one. They are so completely in the present. I think most performers are, if they’re impressing us at all.
I’m reminded of the night my best friend Carrie and I walked down to the creepy park a few houses down from hers to sing Whitney Houston songs. She sang and tried to get me to harmonize. I’m a shit singer. My voice isn’t bad, particularly, but I don’t have music in my veins the way Carrie does. She has a gorgeous voice, very full and warm. I remember seeing her belting out “The Greatest Love of All” and the look on her face was transcendental, both removed and present simultaneously; joyous and soulful, her lungs were full of the future, the past, the minute, the notes, and I just tried to do as she directed so as to keep the spell from breaking. I wanted to keep her singing because her voice cutting into the dark air felt daring, telling, and free.
We felt something fall on the park like a pall and with the premonition of youth, the fear of colts who don’t yet rationalize bad feelings by jaded doubts, we ran for our lives. We ran down the street, past her house, past her neighbor’s houses, and when we reached the parking lot in front of Uncle Charlie’s bar we stopped, breathless, and laughed at the hairs still rising on our necks.
My good friend’s son came home from Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago. I think he’s done being young in a silly way. War changes you irrevocably. I can’t begin to imagine the horrors he’s experienced. Trial by fire sweeps your soul clean of any pretenses and strips you of your filters. Going to war is like entering my world through the grisly back door.
We have to listen to music that lights the black tunnels for us. Your light might be different than mine. It’s okay. We don’t have to rise to the same anthems. We just all have to keep rising. Find your song for youth, for hope, for fighting the indifferent dark, and light your torch so that I can see it from my own dark night.
I am indescribably happy not to be young any more but I am also engaged in wishing a future for the young that outshines the Aurelius borealis.