#3 Millennials Are Going Gray (“Millennials Are Going Gray” album, track by track)

Welcome to blog #3 of 7 in my track by track guide to my new DIY album, Millennials Are Going Gray — almost halfway there, yay! Track #3 is the title track “Millennials Are Going Gray.” At least one person has mistaken this one as a pretentious attempt to “define a generation,” so I assume some others might be thinking the same thing. But make no mistake, I’m not claiming to speak for anyone but myself. Just like everything else I’ve written, everything in the song is true and personal to me, and I felt that some of my memories and stories about growing up around the turn of the century were worth telling. I wouldn’t be surprised if many people around my age can relate to them, but it would be a bonus. I’m still just telling my own stories for my own purposes, not for someone else to validate them.

For your convenience, you can stream the track on Spotify and YouTube and read the lyrics at the bottom of this post.
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This all started as a joke song to poke fun at people who don’t know what a millennial is, both colloquially and in the media. For quite a long time after millennials began ageing, people were still using it as a synonym for youth. They weren’t understanding that just like baby boomers or any other generation, we age with our generation, not out of it. Now that the “Generation Z” label has become more popular over the past year or two since I wrote my first draft of this song, people seem to be starting to learn the difference between the two generations, so the song doesn’t seem as useful, but it still stands.

At first I thought it was going to be a very silly, lighthearted song (like “Live Music Makes All My Decisions” or “The Old Lady at the Open Mic”), but I needed to fill in the details of the song because, “Hey… we’re not actually teenagers?” does not a song make. And as I started thinking about what we’ve been through as a generation, shit got kinda real. I’ve since dubbed it my “lighthearted acoustic emo song,” which I think is accurate.

The two most obvious defining moments were 9/11 and the financial crisis, so I brainstormed some of the thoughts, emotions, and stories surrounding my experiences with them.

I can still remember 9/11, I was in middle school. I had to run an errand for my teacher in the school library, and the librarian was watching the news on TV, where some building was on fire. Even after I found out it was the Twin Towers, it didn’t really mean anything to me. Then some shitty person (probably a child) called in a bomb threat to our school and we all got evacuated and sent home. I was already slightly confused and afraid by that point, but when I got home my entire extended family was over and glued to the TV news. The adults were clearly agitated and anxious, so I took on the same emotions, not really having my own understanding of what was happening. For some reason (maybe because my family enjoys drama), they thought it was a good idea to drive over half an hour to the ferry in Hoboken just to watch the smoke rise across the river with several young children in tow. Personally I don’t recommend doing something like that, especially in hindsight, but it did give me a much more vivid and poignant memory of the event, handy for songwriting.

As for the financial crisis, I started college around the beginning of it, and when I graduated unemployment was still high and underemployment for young people was through the roof. Even talented people with experience were having trouble finding decent jobs, and I was competing with them, looking for my first full-time job. I did not get one, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. I must have sent out 50 applications for entry-level jobs around graduation time (most of which “preferred” at least five years of experience?!) and didn’t get a single interview, despite having excellent grades and experience with work, professional internships, academic research, volunteering, and leadership. I’d also spent quite a bit of time reading about resume and cover letter best practices and maximizing every detail of mine, all to no avail. I even got passed over for more experienced workers for several retail jobs until I finally got a part-time job stocking shelves overnight.

That job sucked in certain ways, but it definitely “built character” as they say, and it gave me a lot of mindless, solitary time to think. You know what it taught me, right or wrong? That “doing everything right” and sacrificing your dreams for stability and “growing up” was bullshit. Doing everything right doesn’t actually guarantee stability, so you might as well just live the way that seems right to you and hope it works out in the end. I don’t even think my life would necessarily be worse if I’d gotten a stable job right out of college and never pursued music seriously. It would just be different, and I suppose actually better in certain ways. But I literally find it impossible to get into the “stability” mindset after what I went through when I entered the workforce. Regardless of whether I’ve been misguided or not, I don’t think I can ever unlearn what it taught me. And anyway, in my life right now I have no idea what will happen in the future, but I spend nearly every moment on something that’s important to me, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

I’m in the middle of the millennial age range, so some were a bit older or younger than I was when these events occurred. They were still all in their formative years though, so again, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them could relate to a lot of these thoughts and experiences.

Bonus fun fact: if you enjoy this song but you’re one of those silly people who’s offended by the F word, there is a secret clean radio version available. Feel free to ask me nicely for a download of it.

SPOTIFY

YOUTUBE

LYRICS

“I don’t know,” they told me when I asked if we would be okay
Watching the world burn slowly
We drove to Hoboken and watched the smoke rise
Just staring speechless at a terrifying sight
I was very young, wondering how much closer I was to dying
But then we’re all dying

Millennials aren’t the children, we remember 9/11
It was decades ago now
Millennials are going gray, just another generation trying to make our way
Millennials are going fucking gray

And I’ve got two gray hairs
Right in the center of my scalp, bold and ready
For my enemies and friends to stare down
And the baby that I babysat is smoking lots of weed
Down in the shadows right behind my high school bleachers
I’m getting older, wondering how much closer I am to dying
But then we’re all dying

They try to tell us we should be chasing an elusive stability
That when we’re old we’ll want the money
And we won’t give a shit about these dreams
It’s like they’ve never seen those deathbed surveys
And when you graduated college when there were no jobs anywhere in sight
It’s only natural to wonder, what do I really want to do with this short life?
And if you’ve never wondered that then you’re not living it right

Millennials aren’t the children, we remember 9/11
It was decades ago now
Millennials are going gray, just another generation trying to make our way
Millennials are going fucking gray
We’re never gonna be perfect but we’ll find our way
Millennials are going fucking gray

Da da da da da da, da da da da da da
Da da da

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