The Dutchman & Hello in There: Songs about growing old

“If you don’t do anything wrong for a period of three minutes, then the spirt of the music rushes in there and occupies it full time.”

– Songwriter Michael Peter Smith discussing his song “The Dutchman.”

Michael Peter Smith’s classic song about growing old, “The Dutchman,” popped up on my Facebook memories this morning, and it got me thinking about that very limited genre of songs about what it is like to be living with people who are growing old. This is a song I don’t dare listen to in public. It brought me to tears when I was young and my parents and in-laws were my age. Now it can be almost unbearably sad for me to listen to as I have family dealing with dementia, and yet has such a deep truth to it, I can’t help but listen.

In the first of these videos, you can hear the late great Steve Goodman perform The Dutchman, which appeared on one of his earliest albums.  The second video is of songwriter Michael Peter Smith discussing how he came to write the song.

Steve Goodman and Jethro Burns playing “The Dutchman”

Michael Peter Smith discusses how he came to write “The Dutchman.”

And finally, here’s singer/songwriter John Prine with his own classic on growing old, “Hello In There.”

John Prine’s “Hello in There from his first album in 1971.

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