Forever Young

Receding hairlines, poor vision, and wrinkles.These are just a few of the unwelcome symptoms of getting older brings. While growing older brings wisdom, isn’t it more appealing to want to stay young forever? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to be able to run around, live a carefree life with no boundaries, and have so many open opportunities that lead to unknown outcomes? The innocence and curiosity for the world that youth brings is something that people look back and yearn for. It’s a time where one may feel:
  • free
  • alive
  • energetic
  • and happy, with no responsibilities at hand.

For John Mayer, you can tell being young is something that is of great importance to him through his lyrics. There are several songs that portray this, such as Stop This Train, Clarity, No Such Thing, Why Georgia, and 83. Every one of these songs provides lyrics that relate back to not wanting to grow up, and to want to live in the world of being a child or teenager forever. It could be that John had a very enjoyable time growing up, and can’t bear to think about having to become old and responsible for things. However, being 33 years old it is safe to say that John Mayer is considered an adult. The main reason I believe he writes about wanting to stay young forever is because he knows it’s something that a lot of people can relate to, and since his audience consists of a wide range of ages, it is essential to sing about something that will satisfy everyone. Whatever the reason, it is very obvious that John Mayer’s lyrics prove to demonstrate a desire to stay young forever.

Getting Old is a Scary Thing

It means:
  • maturity
  • responsibility
  • and important obligations.

Not to mention the joys that go along with that such as:
  • taxes
  • doctor's appointments
  • and a mortgage to pay.

This may very well be why John writes about being scared of getting older. Being thrown out into the real world can be such a change, and it can be frightening for anyone. One may think, “what if I’m not ready?” or, “what if I make all the wrong decisions, leading me into a major mid-life crises?” I know what I’m going to think once I have to enter the real world: “I want my mommy and daddy!” While it would be extremely nice to have our parents’ guide us through the rest of our lives, that’s not the case. Making our own decisions and becoming independent is part of the process of growing up. It helps us build ourselves and to then eventually start a family on our own. It may sound easy, but many know how frustrating, stressful, and hard it can be. There is even an official name for the fear of becoming old, known as Gerontophobia. These people have such a fear of growing old that it ruins their life. Growing old is definitely not a bad thing, or something to necessarily fear. However, being young and carefree is so much easier and less stressful in a lot of ways.

These reasons of why growing up is not something to look forward to is why I believe John Mayer has written about not wanting to grow up in so many of his songs. For example, in Stop This Train, some of the lyrics are: “Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again, I can’t take the speed that it’s moving in, I know I can’t, but honestly won’t someone stop this train?” After hearing this song, I realize that the train is a metaphor or life. John views his life going by too quickly, and he wants it to slow down. It may be that he feels like because he is living such a busy life, his life is going by so quickly and he is not having an efficient amount of time to appreciate it. It may also be because he doesn’t want to grow older, which makes sense because of the next line of lyrics which are: “So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young, so I play the numbers game to find a way to say that life has just begun.” By John saying “I’m only good at being young” most likely means that he doesn’t think he will be able to be mature enough to take life as seriously as he should as an adult.

By wanting to be younger than you are proves that maybe he is insecure on growing older and making adult decisions. This may be why the next line of lyrics state: “Don’t know how else to say it, don’t want to see my parents go, one generations’ length away, from fighting life out on my own.” John proves that he is going to miss his parent’s guidance and assistance in many of his decisions, and that he’s not ready to be independent. Another one of John’s songs that demonstrate the desire to want to stay young forever is 83. Some of the lyrics include: “and these days, I wish I was six again…oh if only my life was more like 1983, all these things would be more like they were at the start of me, had it made in 83.” These lyrics, to me, sh. ow that John’s childhood must have been very easy going and pleasant, and right now his life must be very stressful and he wants to escape. Wishing to be six again is not uncommon. It usually just means you want to escape the stress and frustrations that being an adult can bring. Another line from this song is: “Whatever happened to my lunchbox, when came the day that it got thrown away, and don’t you think I should have had some say in that decision?” In other words, I believe John is trying to say “don’t you think I should have had some say in when I have to grow up?” Childhood seems like the best times of our lives, and John Mayer makes that very apparent through his lyrics in these songs.

Nobody Wants a Boring Life

Nobody wants to look back and think, “Wow, I really did absolutely nothing throughout my life.” Of course, this would be an exaggeration. No one actually does absolutely nothing. However, this fear can definitely lead one to want to have a longer youth. It’s common for people at a vital age to want to:
  • travel
  • explore
  • learn something new
  • and take as many chances as possible.

When you’re young, why not, right? Some people may feel like their time is running out, and that they didn’t do all they could to have exciting years to look back on. People want stories to tell their grandchildren; the type of stories that can be passed down to other generations. When you’re older and tied down to a family and responsibilities, it becomes harder to travel or adventure out into the world.

This fear of living a boring life is also shown through John’s songs, such as No Such Thing, and once again, Stop This Train. From No Such Thing, John sings: “Welcome to the real world she said to me, condescendingly, take a seat, take your life, plot it out in black and white.” These lyrics come across as bitter, showing that the real world is “black and white,” or in other words, exactly what you will expect, already sorted out for you. Based on the bitterness I sense from these lyrics, I am guessing that this black and white vision of the real world includes all of the negative things it may bring, as I have stated earlier such as responsibility and so on. By saying, “take a seat, take your life,” John is basically inferring that by planning out your life and heading out into the real world is also ending your life. It is as if he is saying being in high school and being young is the only fun and happiness you will ever see. Another song that shows me his fear of lacking his chance to discover the world and to lead a boring life is Stop This Train when he opens up with: “No I’m not color blind, I know the world is black and white.” I interpret this as John saying that in the real world, things are predictable and it’s either this way or that. There is no in-between and no room for anything else. It may also refer to everything looking black and white as he passes by in this train, inferring that everything is going by too quickly, including time and youth.

A great piece of advice that I like to take into consideration as much as possible is to cherish precious moments. Cherish the moments that take your breath away, that fill you with so much happiness you literally feel warm inside, and moments that change your life for the better. Wanting to preserve moments like these can be very important to people. Cherished moments may be different for everyone. It may be that moment when you’re husband proposed. It may be that moment when you graduated from college, or when you find out your mom is finally cancer-free. It seems to me that according to John’s songs, one thing that he finds something very important to cherish is his youth, and the happy moments that it brought him. It’s very possible that when one’s most cherished moments had to do with their childhood, they want to live and relive through those years forever.

The desire to preserve the moments of your life that you never want to leave becomes apparent to me through John Mayer’s songs Clarity, and No Such Thing. During Clarity, John explains: “By the time I recognize this moment, this moment will be gone, but I will bend the light, pretend that it somehow lingered on.” Through these passionate words, it becomes clear that it is painful to let something that was once important to you fade away. For John in this case, I see these moments that he is afraid of being gone to be his youthful years. In the song previously introduced, No Such Thing, the lyrics say: “I wanna run through the halls of my high school, I wanna sing at the top of my lungs.” I interpret these lyrics to mean that he wants to prove to everyone that these are the best moments and years of their lives, and that they should express that and share it with everyone.

All in all, it becomes clear that many of John Mayer’s songs prove to demonstrate some sort of desire to want to stay young forever. It has shown by his way of singing about being scared of growing up, by showing fear of living a boring life, and by wanting to live in memorable moments (for example, high school,) forever. The future is so unknown, there’s no wonder why one would be scared to enter it. By continuing to sing about these issues, John may be trying to tell his audience that he doesn’t plan on growing up anytime soon. Or maybe he is trying to tell us that we need to cherish our youth for as long as we can. This interpretation of these songs may not all be correct, but there are many links and connections that show that John is a young soul who wants to live his young years for as long as he possibly can. But in honesty, can you blame him?
John Mayer playing a tune