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It Was Fun Being a Baby Boomer --
Until We Realized How Old Weíre Getting

by James Charles
March 10, 2005

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By nearly every measure, it's been fun being a baby boomer.

We grew up in the prosperity of the 1950s, enjoyed the freeing of societal restrictions and norms in the Sixties, we had a chance to experiment with every crazy lifestyle and self-discovery idea that came along during the 1970s, some of us were born Republicans and became radicals; others were born radicals and became disillusioned. Mostly, we got laid a lot.

By the time we were settling down to regular jobs and starting new families, the 1980s and 1990s made sure that there was plenty of everything good to go around for most of us.

Best of all, we lived through the birth, explosion and maturing of rock music.

But, sadly, nothing stays constant. Now that weíre stumbling into our 50s and 60s -- Good grief! The first of our fellow boomers are getting ready to retire -- things are turning sour. First, Bob Dylan started renting his music out for commercial jingles. Then, we learned Annie Hall had grandchildren. Next, George Bush began trying to scare the bejeezus out of everyone about Social Security, adopting the same tactics he used so cleverly on Iraq.

Now, rumour has it, some of the biggest singers and bands of the Sixties, our icons, role models and sex symbols, are revising their old hits with new lyrics to accommodate the changing tastes and interests of the people who made the artists wealthy stars.

Here are a few songs that Iíve learned record promoters are pitching to radio stations and music stores.

Herman's Hermits -- Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Walker
The Bee Gees -- How Can You Mend a Broken Hip
Bobby Darin  -- Splish, Splash, I Was Havin' a Flash
Ringo Starr -- I Get By With A Little Help From My Pension
Roberta Flack -- The First Time Ever I Forgot Your Face
Johnny Nash -- I Can't See Clearly Now
Paul Simon -- Fifty Ways To Lose Your Liver
Commodores -- Once, Twice, Three Times To The Bathroom
Marvin Gaye -- I Heard It Through The Grape Nuts
Procol Harem -- A Whiter Shade Of Hair
Leo Sayer - You Make Me Feel Like Napping (I Want To Nap The Day Away)
The Temptations -- Papa's Got a Kidney Stone
Abba - Denture Queen
Tony Orlando -- Knock Three Times on the Ceiling if You Hear Me Fall
Helen Reddy -- I Am Woman, Hear me Snore 
Willie Nelson -- On The Throne Again
Sheena Easton -- Gold Plunger

Stories are rampant throughout the music industry today that MTVís ďgrown-upĒ cable network plans to capitalize on the trend by staging a weekend marathon of one-time and never-were stars performing their updated hits. If your kids or grandkids monopolize the television and you havenít discovered it, MTV has a sister network that targets people who still like great music but have outgrown exposing their navel and tummy jewellery because both are now lost beneath the tummy rolls, and who know that itís possible to go out dancing before midnight. Few of us have tattoos left over from a misspent youth.

Lining up big name groups for the show wasnít a problem; many of the acts havenít been asked to perform anywhere for years other than on PBS pledge week nostalgia shows. Itís a fast slide to total obscurity when you canít even get a gig at a casino in rural Minnesota. Despite this, meeting some of the aging artistís idiosyncratic demands is said to be causing havoc at the TV studios in New York. One group is demanding hydroponic prunes. Another singer, famous in the past for insisting that his dressing room be stocked with Tattinger Champagne and Beluga caviar, now demands one of those pressure-pump leg booties advertised on TV to relieve his varicose veins that always act up after heís been on his feet too long.

Airtime is noon, giving viewers plenty of time to run errands, pick up their dry cleaning and clean the house before settling in front of the TV with a nice decaf Latte. The show wraps up at five each day so viewers can still make the half-price, early bird dinner specials at Ponderosa.

James Charles, baby boomer and ex-pat American,  is a writer who has lived in Toronto since 1991. His next book is Life In The Dominion: An Americanís Mostly-Affectionate Look At Living In Canada. E-mail him at:

Other Articles by James Charles

* Everyone Take Another Step To The Right
* Encountering Hunter Thompson