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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life Begins at Forty

Jack Yellin
Guest Blogger: Jack Yellin. He wrote enduring songs like “Alabama Jubilee,” “Ain’t She Sweet,” and the perennial “Happy Days Are Here Again,”and he wrote specialty lyrics for revues by Ziegfeld and John Murray Anderson. Born in Poland, Yellin was raised in Buffalo, NY, and had his first Broadway successes in the 1920s. He shifted to Hollywood as the talkies came in, working on Paul Whiteman’s “King of Jazz” and various iterations of “George White’s Scandals.” He also wrote specialty material for Sophie Tucker, including “My Yiddishe Momme” and the lyric reproduced below. Yellin retired to the Buffalo area, and, supporting this song’s sentiment, lived to the age of 97.


by Jack Yellen

I’ve often heard it said and sung
That life is sweetest when you’re young,
And kids sixteen to twenty-one
Think they’re having all the fun.
I disagree. I say it isn’t so,
And I’m one gal who ought to know;
I started young and I’m still going strong,
But I’ve learned as I’ve gone along:

That life begins at forty.
That’s when love and living start to become a gentle art;
A woman who’s been careful finds that’s when she’s in her prime,
And a good man when he’s forty knows just how to take his time.

Conservative or sporty, it’s not until you’re forty
That you learn the how and why, and the what and when.
In the twenties and the thirties, you want your love in large amounts,
But after you reach forty it’s the quality that counts.

Yes, life begins at forty,
And I’ve just begun to live all over again;

You see, the sweetest things in life grow sweeter as the years grow on,
Like the music from a violin that has been well played upon;
And the sweetest smoke is from a mellow, broken-in old pipe;
And the sweetest tasting peach is one that’s zaftig, round and ripe.

In the twenties and the thirties, you’re just an amateur,
But after you reach forty, that’s when you become a connoisseur
Then it isn’t grab and get it, and a straight line for the door.
You’re not hasty, you’re tasty, you enjoy things so much more;

For instance, a novice gulps his brandy down, he doesn’t understand:
Observe a connoisseur, the way he holds it in his hand,
How he strokes the glass, fondles it, warms it as he should,
Smacks his lips: slowly sips: ah, it tastes good!

Life begins at forty.
Then it isn’t hit and run, and you find it much more fun
You romance a girl of twenty, and it costs you all your dough,
But when a forty thanks you, she hates to see you go.

And girls of twenty, all they want are big men,
Big men with strong physiques;
I don’t say that it’s bad,
But you do get tired of those damn Greeks.

Life begins at forty,
And I’m just living all over again!

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