3 songs about getting old

I’ve been collecting songs about getting old for a while now. Some by young or youngish songwriters, some by old songwriters. And they are worlds apart.

Strangely, most of them are written and performed by people who are far from old. Those tend to bewail the onset of grey hair and aches and pains or to hope that love endures into old age. “When I’m 64” is a very jolly example of this genre. It’s adorable, but it shows a deeply different view of old age than that of an insider.

I love “Getting Older” by Billie Eilish, which straddles the gap between the young view of old and the old view of old. Very poignant, it is about much more than the title suggests.

Official video of Billie Eilish singing “Getting Older”, with lyrics

Willie Nelson is quite another kettle of fish: he is 89 years old so when he sings about old age, he knows whereof he sings. His 2022 album, A Beautiful Time, includes Dusty Bottles, about the upside of old age.

(By the way, best not click on those ads.)

Official video of Dusty Bottles by Willie Nelson

Finally a hot favourite of mine: Still Not Dead, also by Willie Nelson. Now that’s what I call keeping it simple! It’s the reason why old people are happy to be old: we’re still not dead.

Official video of Still Not Dead by Willie Nelson
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20 thoughts on “3 songs about getting old

  1. josaiawrites says:

    Thank you so much for these very different, touching in their own ways, songs. Loved them all. Poignant.I think I’ll relish being one of those dusty bottles of fine wine, for those who take the time to pour….

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That sounds like a fine plan.

      1. josaiawrites says:

        Indeed! I so appreciate your writing…. Thank you! I look forward to each new piece…

  2. Love Willie Nelson. Such a talented musician and lyricist.

  3. Jane Fritz says:

    Thanks for these, Rachel, and the same observations I’ve had that young people seem to be afraid of us oldies! Here’s one of my favourites on the theme (along with Jacques Brel’s Silver Clock). This is a successful Canadian songwriter/singer who happens to live in Atlantic Canada, actually in my hometown. He’s basing his observations on his parents and their friends, who I know well. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R1GCWqWTZ5c

  4. ivor20 says:

    I’m an guy, .. but I found the lyrics of Billie English’s song to be quite poignant ..

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      And her voice. And the music. It’s all rolled up in one bundle.

      1. ivor20 says:

        A appealing sound for this old bloke Rachel 🎶😊🌏

  5. What a fantastic collection of lovely and poignant songs Rachel. Often when people ask how I am, I reply “Waking up alive is always a good start to the day!” Love and hugs to all the old people. 🤗🤗🤗

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes, and that is not something that young people say!

  6. Ally Bean says:

    My favorite song about aging is “My Back Pages” by Dylan: “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Been the story of my life, thinking younger all the time.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Funny, I knew the song and loved that chorus, but didn’t know the title. It’s a great song about a kind of openness and tolerance that comes with age. I have no idea why he equates that with being young. But hey, it’s. Bob Dylan 🙂

  7. Rachel, thanks so much for making my day. No one can make people smile like Willie can.

  8. candidkay says:

    And of course there’s the ever popular “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan. Although I’m not sure we can say it’s about getting older, right? It’s the anti-song to that theme, I guess!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Exactly. That’s why it’s not on my list. I liked it when I first heard it, but that was then.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I like the quest for songs about getting old. Now that you have started, I will be on the lookout for more. Thanks.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You may be surprised to spot two very different points of view.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      HelloJane, and thanks! I’m so pleased you followed up by writing on the same topic, and the comments on your post give me even more food for thought.

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