Forever Young: The Evolution of a Song

My friends like to mock me good-naturedly for my infatuation with the song "Forever Young" by Alphaville.  My sister went so far as to send me the music video of the new hip-hop version, "Young Forever" by Jay-Z and Mr. Hudson.  What can I say?  It's a song that will always mean a lot to me.  When I eventually pass away to that great big pop-culture-fest in the sky, let them play the original song as the anthem that sends me off.

It is amazing that this song is still inspiring recording artists -- it originally came out by the synthetic pop German trio in the early 1980s, who didn't have many other hit songs ("Big in Japan" and "Dance with Me" don't really spark too many nostalgic nods of recognition, except for Alphaville fans like me).  "Forever Young" has had a long, interesting life ever since.  Laura Branigan recorded a corny version, and most recently there was a cool rendition by Temperance (which was one of the many highlights at my wedding, woohoo!), one of many "techno" versions.  Alphaville did a bunch of remixes, my favorite being the 1988 version which still holds up as one of the best, in my opinion.  The song has been featured in movies, including Listen to Me with Kirk Cameron and the cult classic Napoleon Dynamite, as well as a number of commercials and television shows.  Now, Jay-Z gives it renewed life.

I first heard the song in high school.  Some classmates of mine even made a short movie based on it.  It's a constant reminder of the 1980s, a decade of Cold War paranoia, materialism, a pop culture renaissance, and many good and bad memories. 

My greatest memory of the song was listening to it on a beautiful, sunny, spring afternoon after spending nine days in the hospital because of a car accident.  My elbow had just been reconstructed and I had missed almost two weeks of my freshman university classes.  I was stressing out (what else is new?), but listening to "Forever Young" just brought out a bunch of positive emotions in me.  Whenever I hear that song now, I still vividly remember that day and recall thinking that everything was going to be all right.

Who knows how much more of a lifespan that song still has left? Maybe American Idol can do a "Forever Young" night and have all the contestants sing it in different arrangements from different genres.  That might drive most viewers insane, but I would probably love every minute of it. 

P.S.  For the record, the Alphaville song is far better than Rod Stewart's "Forever Young."  Carry on.

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