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The old song blues
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I will have two granddaughters in middle school this year. My granddaughters are getting grownie. At the same time my body is getting groanie.

But one thing that really makes me feel old is hearing the music of my youth, music my parents hated and I thought was so daring, played in the background at the grocery store. You know you are old when you know all the words to elevator music.

One of Macon granddaughters performed in an end of the year class extravaganza for grandparents. The song she sang and danced to? Bobby Darin’s “Splish Splash.” Now I know that Bobby Darin was no great shock rocker. But the poor guy does open the door to his bathroom only to be greeted with a pile of friends in his living room having a party. A little bit risqué for a third grader.

“A, B, C” from the Jackson Five has been used on commercials. “Takin’ Care of Business,” by Bachman Turner Overdrive, has been used in commercials for Office Depot. Janis Joplin’s wail of “Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,” was a comment of consumerism. But that didn’t stop Mercedes Benz from using the song in a commercial.

I remember hearing “Take a Load Off Fanny” (“The Weight” by The Band) in one commercial several years ago and thinking that it is a catchy tune (and you can dance to it), but the words certainly do not lend themselves to a commercial. Yet there it was.

Even the eternal bad boys of rock and roll, The Rolling Stones, have sold their songs to be used in commercials. “Brown Sugar” is one. The most notable is “Start Me Up” for the rollout of a new Microsoft Windows program in the middle 90s. For which, if I remember correctly, Microsoft paid a pretty penny.

Blondie’s “One Way or Another” has been featured in more movies and television shows than I think you can count on your fingers and toes. Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” is now on a commercial for a cruise line.

Paul Simon, of Simon and Garfunkel fame, is arguably one of the more prolific on modern song writers. And some of his songs are, today, classics. Who can resist trying to sing along with Garfunkel on those last two lines of “A Bridge Over Troubled Water”?

His “Homeward Bound” was used in commercials as well as “Kodachrome” in a commercial for Kodak.

Paul Simon, and Garfunkel, is a favorite of mine. My go-to CD when I don’t know what I want to listen to is “Graceland.” But I pretty much like anything by Simon, “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” “Cecelia” and “Slip Sliding Away” to mention a few.

But hearing old songs on a commercial can be somewhat upsetting. I remember the song and most of its words. I remember how I felt about the song. I enjoy the beat and the music. When a song I remember is played in a commercial and my children or grandchildren are present, I tell them about the song and my indignation that it is used in a commercial. My grandchildren look at me with a perplexed and, as they get older, that perfected teen-age bored look. My children smile and try to look interested. I made them listen to my music as we rode to and from high school together. My older one, to this day, can sing all the lyrics to “Runaround Sue.” My children can’t scoff, however; they are in the same predicament I am. The songs from their glory days are now heard in commercials too.

Hearing songs from your youth can drive you crazy. I hear the song. It takes me a while to process it. The fragment of a lyric stays in my brain until I finally unravel in my mind what most of the lyrics are. Then I can’t get the song out of my head. I wonder who sang the song. When was it written?

I have to go to the computer and find the song and its origins. I visit Wikipedia a good deal. Sometimes I even have to go look for the song and buy it on a CD.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be contacted at