Dying Young in the 70s and the Damn Birds Wouldn’t Shut Up!

I suppose it’s very natural, once you reach my age, to step back and begin looking at the Big Picture, usually more often than you’d like. The Big Picture. Meaning you begin appraising certain time frames which are remarkably encapsulated within the larger chunk of time which represents the historical period you’ve walked this Earth. This presents you with an unsettling perspective of just what an old fart you are becoming (and have become). I find I do this a lot in the realm of music and cultural moods.

Sometimes this shit just slaps me in the face unexpectedly…as in I was not out looking for a maudlin flashback, really. The first half of the 70s decade represents a slightly hazy memory which spanned the initial stage of my schooling and I find no joy or reward in rehashing those days, but thanks to the modern marvel that is Youtube, I cannot escape the hazy childhood escapades of my final years of the Vietnam War/Charles Mansonian era. Can’t escape it, the present will always draw you back because the past has an unrecognizable allure for those who weren’t around to experience it.

And where else but Youtube can you find a 35-year-old video of one of the most maudlin and overly sentimental songs of loss from the Nixonian decade? Is it at all possible this song would ever have seen the light of day now? I doubt it. It’s so syrupy and bursting with such Movie of the Week stomach-churning anguish that I doubt anyone struck with such a creative burp nowadays would throw themselves off a bridge before they attempted to market this treat.

I’m talking of Seasons In The Sun by Terry Jacks. Dude. I was about 10 or so when it was released and I remember it sorta vaguely and harshly. I loved the song then, and I still do. I accept it for what it is (and what it’s not) and I have no shame in admitting my heart weeps every time I hear it. It’s a private, personal, and very guilty descent into the dark closet of shameful enjoyment.

Who was this Terry Jacks and why did he have that voice? This song was made for him…no one else could have so shamelessly bellowed the lyrics

“We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time”

over the AM airwaves or graced K-Tel vinyl.

It truly does not get any better than that! Right, yeah, you show me Rihanna or Taylor Swift trying to jam to those Beyond the Grave tunes from the post-Vietnam era!

How can you possibly go wrong with a song written from beyond the fictional grave by an imaginary but boozing, womanizing single father (whose mode of death appears to be a result of his wild lifestyle). Actually, about 5 years ago this song took on a new meaning for me. I very nearly became the guy who fondly remembered skinning his knees and hated to die just when the birds were beginning to chirp up a storm. Never had the lyrics to this ballad affected me so closely. I no longer viewed this song as just another trite dead-before-your-time melancholy parade. Nope, it was real now.

Yeah, you sing it Terry.

How far have we come in the 35 years since? Do we really have the right to cast such a judgmental eye upon Terry Jacks and his puffy hair and Kermit vocals and the distant era he seems to represent?