Straight Lines

14. Older Than Everybody

Lyrics by: Peter Berryman
Music by: Lou Berryman
© 1998 L&P Berryman

Vocal & Guitar: Mike Agranoff
Recorded live in concert at Bound For Glory, Ithaca, NY October 5, 2014

I've always included recitations like this in my performances. "Captain Crunch," AKA John Draper, was a real phone hacker in the 70s. The anecdote of how he got his "handle" is sort of true. But the events of the story and the motivations of the character are figments of my warped imagination. (Sort of like the legends that were concocted about Jesse James and Wyatt Earp by hack writers of the 19th century. I plead guilty to being a hack writer of the 21st century. But unlike my predecessors, I make no claims of veracity of the story) I wrote this shortly after the breakup of AT&T, and over a decade before the common usage of cell phones, email, chat rooms, listserves, social media, and even the Internet. In some respects, it shows remarkable prescience of things to come.

I went down to the Quik Check on a Thursday after dinner.
Picked up a pair of Twinkies and a cup of cocoa.
I took my place in line, and noticed over top the tabloids
You could see all our reflections in the window.
Now you would not describe me as a people-watching person,
And Iím not often one to stick my neck out.
But if someone put a gun to me and forced my estimation
Iíd say I was older than everybody,
Older than everybody,
Iíd say I was older than everybody at the checkout.

So feeling antiquated, I arrived at a decision
To act a few years younger for an hour.
I drove down to the tavern where my roots had been firmly planted
When my years of boozing were in flower.
I drove in back to park, and found the landscape unbecoming.
The winos in the alley made me shudder.
Iím glad I turned my life around, but Iím glad I thought of this part
Where Iíd be older than everybody,
Older than everybody,
Where Iíd be older than everybody in the gutter.

I drove up in the moonlight to my favorite cemetary,
For though Iím well aware Iím no spring chicken,
Reading all the gravestones always brightens my perspective.
After all, theyíre dead, and Iím still kickiní.
Now I should have been glad that I could hike that hilly acre.
I wasnít even really breathiní that hard.
But when I read the dates, I had the awful realization
That I was older than everybody,
O lder than everybody,
Older than everybody in the boneyard.

A little voice remarked that I could use a short vacation.
That seemed like a reasonable suggestion.
So I drove off in the night and found a motel near Milwaukee.
The desk clerk looked me over and posed a question.
He asked if I was old enough to take the senior discount,
Cause old boys stay for less at Howard Johnsons.
I said, ďIf I donít get the discount, Sonny, no one gets the discount.
Cause Iím older than everybody,
Older than older than everybody,
Cause Iím older than everybody in Wisconson.

Now this old bird is older than all the nighthawks in Chicago.
Older than every buzzard playiní bingo.
Older than every turkey in almost every turkey dinner.
Older than every snowbird in Orlando.
And though I may be younger than the glaciers and the oceans,
Younger than the limestone and the granite,
And though I may be younger than these Twinkies on my dashboard,
Iím older than everybody,
Older than everybody,
I think Iím older than everybody on the planet.