62: Old Hippie

62: Old Hippie

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

Old Hippie

Story by David Bellamy

Song written by David Bellamy

Recorded by the Bellamy Brothers

At the time we wrote the first version of this song, we were probably too young to be called “Old Hippies,” but now we definitely aren’t. The song came from our backgrounds, mine and my brother Howard’s, and a lot of what our friends went through, too. It was more of a composite character, really. We had one friend who had come home from Vietnam a few years before, and another one who was out doing some illegal things, and then there was the adjustment to the changing music that came from our perspective, so we drew from several different people.

I didn’t think this song would be a hit. The only person I showed it to was Howard, and I remember saying, “I don’t know if this will work for a single or even an album cut, but I wanted to show it to you because it means a lot to me personally.” And he said, “Oh, man, this is a great song.” Then we showed it to our producer, Jimmy Bowen, and he said, “That’s pretty cool. It’s different.”

When we put it out, it became a hit pretty fast. When we play a show, these guys who were probably 70 or 75 years old would come up to us and say, “Man, you wrote that song about me.” I always thought that was funny, because this was in 1985. I thought it was weird that so many people would relate to it from different age groups. Even now, people come up and say the same thing.

Thirty or forty years ago, it seemed that most people were into the same kinds of things, but now everything is so fragmented. Howard and I still live in our own era. I am pretty open-minded about new music, but I don’t hear much that is on a par with what I consider the really great music that came out of the 1960s and 1970s. That’s why it says, “disco leaves him cold” and “he’s got friends into new wave,” and so on. So the song is a composite of a whole generation that was getting older.

I thought it was strange that it did so well in the country market, because it had references to John Lennon and so many things outside the country market, but the radio stations started playing it and it never stopped. It still gets a lot of airplay today.

In 1995, we did “The Sequel,” and had references to Bill Clinton and his presidency, and Woodstock II, Billy Ray and Garth, and things like that. It did pretty well, also. One of the reasons I decided to do the sequel was because people kept writing newer versions of the song and sending them to me. I wish I had saved them because there were literally hundreds of them. This was before e-mail, and people would just type up new lyrics and send them to me, so I thought maybe we should do an updated version. I still get people re-writing it to this day.

We did a gospel album in 2007 and did the third version: “Old Hippie: Saved.” Together, we call them “The Trilogy.” The last one is not as well known as the first two, but it really reflects where we are now.

Old Hippie

He turned thirty-five last Sunday and in his hair he found some gray

But he still ain’t changed his lifestyle. He likes it better the old way

So he grows a little garden in the back yard by the fence

He’s consuming what he’s growing nowadays in self defense

He gets out there in the twilight zone

Sometimes when it just don’t make no sense

He gets off on country music ‘cause disco left him cold

He’s got young friends into new wave, but he’s just too friggin’ old

And he dreams at night of Woodstock and the day John Lennon died

How the music made him happy and the silence made him cry

Yeah he thinks of John sometimes

And he has to wonder why

CHORUS:

He’s an old hippie

and he don’t know what to do

Should he hang on to the old?

Should he grab on to the new?

He’s an old hippie.

This new life is just a bust

He ain’t trying to change nobody

He’s just trying real hard to adjust

He was sure back in the sixties that everyone was hip

Then they sent him off to Vietnam on his senior trip

And they forced him to become a man while he was still a boy

And behind each wave of tragedy he waited for the joy

Now this world may change around him

But he just can’t change no more

CHORUS

Well, he stays away a lot now from the parties and the clubs

And he’s thinking while he’s joggin’ ’round

He sure is glad he quit the hard drugs

Cause him and his kind get more endangered everyday

And pretty soon the species will just up and fade away

Like the smoke from that torpedo, just up and fade away

CHORUS

•••

Old Hippie II: The Sequel

He’ll be forty-five come Wednesday and his gray hair is getting thin

But he’s still hanging in there, don’t feel too bad for the shape he’s in

He’s seen yuppies in the White House, but he thinks they’re gonna fail

He just don’t trust a President that never has inhaled

And he prays to God to stop his crime

but it seems to no avail

Well, he still loves country music, but he’s been left out in the dark

’Cause they don’t play Merle and George no more. He don’t know Billy Ray from Garth

And he’s heard of Woodstock II, but it never could compete

’Cause he was there the day that Hendrix played the anthem with his teeth

Back when all those grunge bands

couldn’t even keep a beat

CHORUS:

He’s an old hippie

Even older than before

Wondering what to pay attention to

And what should be ignored

He’s an old hippie

Still adjusting to the change

He’s just trying to find some balance

In a world gone totally insane

He still thinks back on the sixties, but not in the same way

’Cause they built a wall to his war, then forgot the MIA’s

And he’s trying to be a nice man but it’s too much of a bore

Cause fax machine and cell phones ain’t what he was put here for

And in a world selling sex and youth, he’s the last old dinosaur

CHORUS

Well, he comes on home from work now, takes some time up with the kids

Try to teach them right from wrong, hope they don’t learn it the way that he did

And his eyes are on the future but it’s looking pretty sad

And with every day that passes he becomes more like his dad

Hopes that when this century turns around, things won’t be so bad

CHORUS

•••

Old Hippie III: Saved

He’ll be fifty-five this weekend, can’t believe he’s lived this long

Now he hangs out with the grandkids, instead of tokin’ on his bong

He still thinks about his crazy days, but thanks his God above

That he’s traded in his loving for a greater kind of love

He still shoots them that old peace sign, still gentle as a dove

He loves all kinds of music, country rock with a little roll

Nowadays he’s partial to the melodies that saved his soul

Life has put him through the ringer; friends have fallen through the cracks

And with all the trips he’s taken, he’s been to hell and back

He don’t feel that cool no more; he don’t care and that’s a fact

CHORUS:

He’s an old hippie, getting older every day

But his eyes are on the prize and his faith ain’t gonna stray

He’s an old hippie, he knows what his life is for

Trying’ to get right with The Man

before he goes knockin’ on heaven’s door

He’s confused by the issues from Vietnam to Desert Storm

But he prays every night for the guys and gals in uniform

He ain’t trying to convert you, just glad for your new start

And he won’t be preaching to you like some born-again old fart

He’ll just tell you about the love he’s found deep within his heart

CHORUS

Well, he skips the crowds and the gatherings, spends some quiet time alone

His family is his universe, and heaven is his home

He’s seen and done it all, been in the belly of the whale

He’s looked the devil in the eye and sent him back to hell

He thanks dear Jesus every day, that he’s lived to tell the tale

CHORUS

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