A year ago, I wrote ‘Dreamers’, a song for the 50th birthday of a very good friend, Jen Owen, who I first met 20 years before. I played it for the first time at her birthday party in Stroud, in Gloucestershire, and then recorded it last September with my band The Four Fathers, and we’ve just released it online as the second single from our forthcoming second album, ‘How Much Is A Life Worth?’
‘Dreamers’ reflects on our wilder, younger years, and then progresses to look at how we came to be parents and how “we overcame some demons / And gained some wisdom somehow,” and it’s one of a number of songs I’ve written in which I attempt to grapple with getting older and what that means — something that, I find, very little popular music does, being generally fixated as it is with youth, even when those responsible for its creation have long passed their youthful days.
That said, one of the most poignant musical moments for me over the last few years was when David Bowie returned from long years of musical silence with his 2013 album, ‘The Next Day’, and the absolutely extraordinary ‘Where Are We Now?’ with its palpable sense of mortality, and its refrain about “walking the dead.” And then, in 2016, almost on the eve of Bowie’s death, came ‘Blackstar’, a song that felt like a requiem — as well as being one of the most profound pieces of popular music ever recorded.
Please have a listen to ‘Dreamers’ below, and feel free to buy it, if you like, as a download for just £1 ($1.25):
My meagre efforts at tackling the aging process cannot compare with Bowie’s, of course, and in contrast to his ordeal I’m aware that middle age does not hold the same ghosts as the encroaching death that David Bowie was dealing with on the ‘Blackstar’ album, although, as regular readers will know, I have had my own ghosts to contend with over the years.
Nevertheless, I’m proud of my efforts to deal with what age and mortality bring — specifically in my song ‘Sweet Love and Ever After’, from our first album ‘Love and War’, and in ‘Dreamers’ and another song from our forthcoming album, ‘Tell Me Baby’, a ’60s-style garage rocker that will be released over the next few months, and I’m pretty sure that, in the months and years to come, I will continue to explore what it means to get older in a world that is, in some ways, youth-fixated, in other ways fixated on older people, with profound futility, seeking perpetual youth and beauty, and, in other ways, seems incapable of anything other than denial when it comes to dealing with what the reality of death means for our appreciation and understanding of life itself. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album ‘Love and War’ and EP ‘Fighting Injustice’ are available here to download or on CD via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).
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When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:
Here’s my latest article, promoting and linking to ‘Dreamers’, the new online single by my band The Four Fathers, which I wrote last year for the 50th birthday of a very good friend who I have known for the last 20 years, as we have moved from being young and wild to becoming parents, and reflecting on where we are now. I also briefly discuss how infrequently popular music seems to deal with aging, point out how David Bowie, in his last years, was such a profound exception, and I promise that I will keep on trying to write songs that reflect my journey through life and how perspectives shift as the years pass. I hope you’ll be with me on this journey!
Tashi Farmilo-Marouf posted an image:
Thanks, Tashi. That is so cool!
Getting older is hopefully god willing finding some peace and quite and happiness learning to put down the rocks and boulders of past hurts and sorrws that we carry on our backs ridding our selves of bitterness and negativity which is very much easyer said than done calling out and not tolerateing bullshit espesh …..our own lol……..learning to forgive….espesh ourselves ..growing older means becomeing free theres no need to compete as david bowie said ….you finnaly become the persone you allways wanted to be death will claime each and every one of us …everything passes ….i think after 50 most of us have more behinde us than in front of us so its important to get our houses in order and just accept our place in the world
Great thoughts, Damo, and very good to hear from you. I had been wondering what had happened to you. Hope you’re OK.
Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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