Forever Young




July 28, 2011. I’m driving down the New Jersey Turnpike headed to play practice.  The past few weeks I have started writing a play about my father and his mysterious death.  He passed away in February while I was in the hospital having kidney stone surgery but no one discovered his body for four days. And while doing research for the show, I learned that his cause of death was possibly suicide; a shameful word for many people.  A topic not easily broached. But I have been writing this play as a way for me to discuss it publicly.

 

And while I was driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, that Rod Stewart song “Forever Young” comes on the radio.  You know, the one with the little red-headed kid riding around in the back of a pick-up truck?   All of a sudden, I had an idea for an SNL skit.  The setup: we are in a recording studio. On one side of the wall is Rod Stewart recording the song, on the other is a sound engineer and a studio exec.  The scene opens with the studio exec trying to persuade Rod Stewart to write more to his song.

 

EXEC:  Come on Rod.  You and I both know the song has to be at least 3 minutes long in order to get played on the air.  Now, either you add more to the song or we are cutting it.

ROD:  Alright mate but I haven't got anymore words.  I'm tapped.  My mind grapes are squeezed dry.

EXEC: I don't CARE.  Keep singing the words "FOREVER YOUNG" if you have to. We've got to get it longer. Now get back in there and cut me a hit.

ROD:  Alright.

 

Rod goes back into the studio and the song picks up towards the end-

 

ROD-But whatever road you choose

I’m right behind you, win or lose

Forever young (echo) forever young

Forever young (echo) forever young

 

Rod gives the thumbs up thinking he has accomplished the goal.

Its at this point that the sound engineer and the exec gives the "keep it going" motion.  Rod, clearly not being a good improvisor with melody and especially with words, keeps singing.

 

ROD-For-ever young

 

The exec continues to give him the keep going signal. Panic is starting to set in.  Rod realizes the song has to keep going.  He begins to plead for the song to end.  The exec whispers to

 

EXEC-Keep going.

ROD-Forever young.

 

The exec knows that he has to keep Rod singing so he says:

 

EXEC-Stretch it out.

 

Rod's now lost it.  He begins to scream at the exec and the sound engineer still only using the words 'Forever Young'.

 

ROD- FOR, FOR EVER YOUNG

 

The studio exec is not amused.  He whispers:

 

EXEC-Don’t you take that tone with me Rod Stewart. 

 

Rod realizes that he is out of line by scream-singing.  He apologizes with what he hopes will be his last 'Forever Young'.

 

ROD- Forever young.

 

The song ends.  And Rod Stewart brings home another double platinum record.

But the truth of the matter is this: it's originally a Bob Dylan song. Reconceived by Rod Stewart.  And while I was driving down the road, I listened to the words of the song for the first time.

 

May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam.

And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you’re far from home.

 

It's a blessing.  A benediction.

 

And may you grow to be proud, dignified, and true.

And do unto others, you’d have done to you.

 

And as I heard the next words I started to get choked up.

 

Be courageous and be brave

And in my heart you’ll always stay

Forever Young

 

And I don't know why I started to cry.  But I did.