Pablo Picasso said, “One starts to get young at the age of sixty and then it is too late.”
This year, on July 13, the 194th day of the year, I’ll celebrate my sixtieth birthday, and as that milestone approaches, I find myself Googling quotes like this one and reflecting on the significance of the occasion. Too late, Pablo? Goodness, I hope not!
Turning sixty is an opportune moment to take stock, to review my accomplishments and, for better or for worse, measure them against the ambitions of my youth.
Jonathan Larson, in his song “Seasons of Love,” asks, “How do you measure a life of a woman or man?” My list, like Jonathan’s, would include laughter, strife and cups of coffee. And love? “How about love?” Yes, when I measure the past years in love, I feel incredibly blessed.
But in my case, I also measure my life in songs. For my entire adult life, I’ve been writing songs, and I’ve had the good fortune to hear many of them performed in shows and concerts.
To celebrate my sixtieth birthday, I’m going to post one song every day between now and my birthday – one hundred and ninety four songs in all, if I stick to the plan.
I call it Project 194: Songs for Sixty, and it culminates in a live concert to be held in Philadelphia on my 60th birthday, July 13.
These blog posts will include lyrics, along with reminiscences, digressions and obfuscations. And I’ll invite you – am in fact inviting you, right now – to leave your comments. You can even subscribe and get each day’s offering delivered directly to your inbox by clicking here.
What will this accomplish? I can guess, but honestly, I don’t know. That’s a song cue if ever there was one:
Let’s go! Let’s go!
It seems a bit unorthodox, I know.
A trip is just the ticket.
Yes, it ought to do the trick,
Let’s go! Let’s fly!
My aeroplane is waiting right nearby.
We’ll choose a destination
In some corner of the sky
What can you lose?
Think of the adventure
Of a stratospheric cruise.
You’ll feel like you’re alive
And you won’t know where you’re going
Til you finally arrive.
Let’s go, today!
Let’s let our intuition lead the way.
We won’t come back
Until we track down Vitamin A!
I wrote this song in 1988 for a children’s musical called A Is For Anything. One of my inspirations for that musical was a quote from a poem of Theodore Roethke: “I learn by going where I have to go.”
The character singing is the befuddled aviatrix Amelia Earhart, a role written for my beloved D’Arcy, my Lenya, my muse. The role is sung by Heather Carroll on the audio clip that appears below, but you can see D’Arcy play the role in the video that is on the show page here, and the tag “A Is For Anything” (in the tag cloud on the right) will take you to other songs from that show.
A Is For Anything is about using imagination to conjur something out of nothing. It’s about beginnings and learning to see “a funny way,” that is, the eccentric and unique vision with which an artist regards the world. There’ll be more songs from that show (plus video!) in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, it’s as good a place as any to being this six-month retrospective, don’t you think?
Want to receive daily songs delivered direct to your inbox? Subscribe here!