This album contains fourteen songs dealing with various aspects of aging-discrimination, loneliness, stereotypes, social security, wisdom, dignity, ageism, health, struggle.
We had a hard time agreeing on a title for this album. We rejected the following suggestions: Songs for Seniors, Songs for the Golden Years, The Autumn of Life, Age Aggressively, Hanging in There. Someone asked: "Can't we have a title that doesn't mention old people or age?" Well, aging is a fact of life (the alternative is not a happy one) and we did not propose to avoid the issue, since that's what this record is all about.
To make matters more complicated, we have the question: At what age do you become "old"? Some experts say an old person is someone who is 15 years older than you.
We decided to call the album Old Folks Ain't All the Same, the title of one of our songs, because the problem of stereotyping the elderly is one of our major themes. And finally, you don't have to be "old" to enjoy this song and all the others on this album.
This album (cassette tape also available) was made possible by a grant from the Villers Foundation to the Labor Heritage Foundation. Collector Records produced and will distribute the album/cassette on behalf of the Labor Heritage Foundation. The Villers Foundation, established in 1981, fosters fundamental changes in institutions and attitudes affecting the elderly. It seeks to facilitate public awareness and analysis of poverty among elders in America and to help empower them so that the government is more responsive to their needs.
Joe Glazer has been singing songs of social commentary for forty years. His voice and guitar have been heard in almost every state in the union and in sixty countries around the world where he interpreted American life in song and story. He has recorded more than twenty albums with songs about working people, social movements, politics, good times and bad times, and the strengths and weaknesses of American society. He has been called Labor's Troubadour, the Political Minstrel and an agitator for all good causes.
Old Folks Ain't All the Same — A Massachusetts' ice cream parlor has a "kiddies' menu for all kids under 10 and over 65." The title song of this record is aimed at this kind of nonsensical stereotype. Written by Joe Ames, Joe Glazer and Mike Nobel.
My Get Up and Go — This song, made popular by Pete Seeger and the Weavers, reminds us that old folks are mature enough to poke fun at themselves and to joke about the ailments which often come with old age.
What The Old Folks Know — Composed and sung by Phil Rosenthal.
They've harvested the very field that we're about to hoe
If we just knew what the old folks know.
Forty To Sixty-Five — This old country music song reminds us that age discrimination doesn't always wait until the "standard" retirement age of sixty-five.
I pray the Lord to help me these weary years survive
The missing link that lies between forty and sixty-five.
Ida Mae, Ida Mae — The Social Security Law was passed in 1935, but it was five years before the fund was built up enough to begin paying pension checks. The very first pension check was paid to Ida Mae Fuller on January 11, 1940. Composed by Joe Glazer.
Old Age Pension Check — The version sung here by Joe Glazer is based on a recording by Roy Acuff in 1939.
When the old age pension check comes to our door
We won't have to dread the poor-house anymore.
Never Get Sick in America — The United States is the only major industrial nation without a national health insurance program. The elderly know this better than younger folks (despite Medicare) because they get sick more often and can lose their entire life's savings with one illness. Written by Steve Jones. Sung by Steve Jones and Ann Schurman.
Money goes quick in America
If you get sick in America.
Too Old to Work — This is a revised version of the song written by Joe Glazer in 1950 when workers were fighting to get company-paid pensions to supplement the meager social security benefits paid at that time.
Who will take care of you, how'll you get by
When you 're too old to work and you're too young to die.
Old Time Lovers — Mike Nobel's delightful song reminds us that many "elderly" may have more energy than a flock of teenagers. Composed and performed (piano and all voices) by Mike Nobel.
My Hair Has Turned Gray — This song (known as The Banks of the Dee in England) reflects the agony of the older coal miner thrown out of his job in the "olden days" in England. A beautiful rendition by Louis Killen, a master of the English ballad.
I can't get employment, my hair it's turned gray.
Hello In There — A song about the loneliness too many old folks encounter. Written with remarkable sensitivity by a young John Prine.
The Activity Room — Composed by Ruth Pelham, an imaginative songwriter and performer in the Boston area. She knows how to get the elderly to rid themselves of self-pity and to break out of a self-imposed shell.
People Like You — Si Kahn's moving tribute to the brave men and women who blazed the trail in the fight for social justice. Sung by Folkworks (Carol Hausner, David Sawyer and Saul Schniderman).
Senior Citizens' Battle Hymn — This marching song tells us that retirees are organizing their brothers and sisters to preserve and improve their pensions, health care and quality of life. The Rev. John D. Lee of the Senior Citizens' Club of Los Angeles is responsible for getting these words around to senior citizens' groups.