05/19/2015 04:17 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Confessions of a Serial Songwriter: F-F-F-Fifty?


I often say (and you've probably heard me say it), that when I started out in this business of writing songs I was twenty. Everyone else was twenty. Now I'm fifty-something and everyone else is five. I'm exaggerating about the five, but you know what I mean. There's a Generation Gap with two capital Gs. Which causes me, from time to time, to step back and take stock.

Today, I added an AARP folder to my filing cabinet and a membership card to my wallet. At first I thought the post man was putting the AARP newsletters in my mailbox by accident. I kept tossing them into recycling. But I've finally crawled out of denial. I guess I didn't want anyone to know I qualified. Especially co-writers and other music business colleagues who are...umm....five.

Dynamics in writing sessions have certainly changed. Not for the better or the worse. They're just, well, different. For me, conversations can be forced, like when I'm trying to relate to things like prom, the piercing of a frenulum or when I'm pretending to know what "wilding" is. (I tend to be late to all parties. One time I had to ask Jude Cole to explain the meaning of "my bad.")

Often session swagger is so intense I'm not even sure what language we are navigating. Sometimes my confusion matters to a young co-writer. In extreme cases, (and especially when I feel like I'm becoming invisible because he or she is embarrassed to be working with me), I avoid re-convening in the same room. But to the majority of young writers (and artists) thankfully, it's a non-issue, (as it should be).

Like for instance, I've been working with the lovely and talented Laura Marano. I'm pretty sure I'm around the same age as her Mom. But Laura could care less. She appreciates my experience and doesn't see the gap as a detriment but as an advantage. I brought two song starts (concepts) to our last session, which she (and Dan Book), vastly improved upon. I can't be mad at that.

But I digress. What was I saying? Oh yes--AARP. I'm embracing it. Plus, there are actually some very nice benefits for members: discounts on travel, car insurance, movie tickets, hotel rates,, Mr. Tire, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Dunkin' Donuts!

My assimilation into AAA on the other hand, was an entirely different experience. My Dad signed me up when I became a licensed driver and I seamlessly slipped the ID card into my wallet without a second thought. But then, nobody ever freaked out about being seventeen, did they?

And speaking of AAA, I find it ironic that my AAA folder is directly adjacent to the AARP folder. There's been so much adventure in between seventeen and the present, I feel like there should be more space. But there they are back to back--symbolic of how the decades have started butting up against each other.

I really don't care so much about how far to the right my blip is on my lifeline. What does make me uncomfortable, however, is the realization that I'm closer to the end of my life than I used to be--no matter how young I am at heart. And that's a drag because I'm having so much fun.

It is what it is.

I'm closing the file cabinet.

Tonight I have a vocal session with Laura. I look forward to it. But first I'm going to go for a run. (Hopefully I won't hurt myself.) And then I'm going to buy movie tickets for tomorrow and shamelessly request my discount. Perhaps I'll pick up some donuts on the way to the theatre.

Ok, I'm done. No I'm not.

In many ways I'm more comfortable in my collagen-challenged skin than I was when I started out at twenty. Age can be a stigma in a youth oriented industry. If you let it. And I'm trying my best not to.

One more thought: I work with people who are a decade younger than I and others who are a decade older. Some have innocence and some have wisdom. Sometimes the innocence does not belong to the younger writer or the wisdom to the older. In fact, it's often the other way around. We truly are as young as we feel.


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