“Forever Young” – Alphaville
(Words/music: Marian Gold/Bernhard Lloyd/Frank Mertens, available on Forever Young, Atlantic 1984)
This is going to sound a little strange, but I think I’m being stalked by “Forever Young.”
It started a couple of weekends ago while watching Jay-Z’s performance on Saturday Night Live. He performed his single “Young Forever” which was essentially English singer Mr. Hudson singing Alphaville’s “Forever Young” with some Jay-Z verses thrown in. While it didn’t carry the weight of his eight minute medley near the beginning of the show, it was enough to get the hook of “Forever Young” stuck in my head for a few days. This happens a few times a week where something random gets stuck in my head and I live with it for a few days. It might have gone away had I not heard Alphaville’s song a few days listening to the radio. Normally, I might not stop and take notice of the song, but with the hook still lingering in the back of my head, I eagerly listened to the entire thing. Again, this normally ends here, but “Forever Young” remained persistent. As I sat down yesterday afternoon and powered on the TV, Comedy Central was replaying Napoleon Dynamite and was right at the beginning of the scene at the prom. I tuned in maybe twenty seconds before the Alphaville-soundtracked slow dance and laughed a bit.
This isn’t where it ends. Instead, earlier tonight after clicking through a series of YouTube videos, I ended up watching a half dozen performances from New York’s PS22 choir, the group of fifth graders you’ve probably seen singing incredible versions of Phoenix’s “Lisztomania” or Lady Gaga or about fifty other random songs from the last forty years. I started with their recent version of the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” and through several related videos until “Forever Young” stared back at me. Even though my first instinct was to fight it (this would be the fourth spontaneous occurrence in eight days), I clicked through and was glad I did. Their version, unsurprisingly, captured the original’s pristine melody, and the vocal arrangement worked really well with the specific harmonies. It also leaned a little heavier on the sweetness in the song – the perpetual youth in spirit, at least – that competes with the Cold War-era uncertainty running underneath the surface of the original. It was at this moment that I surrendered to “Forever Young,” a song I always liked yet spent the last week trying to evade.
It also meant that I bought an Alphaville album at the universe’s apparent urging.