Neil Young wrote "Sugar Mountain" on his 19th birthday. It's a melancholy song about the loss of youth. Joni Mitchell wrote "The Circle Game" in response. I've always thought Wilco's "Misunderstood" was sort of their version of "Sugar Mountain." Ditto Whiskeytown's "Inn Town."
Decade was on heavy rotation the sad fall of my junior year of high school. I was 17, two years younger than Uncle Neil when he wrote "Sugar Mountain." It made me feel like a nothing. In my adolescent naivete, I convinced myself that I needed to come up with my own "Sugar Mountain" before I was 19 or I would continue to be a nothing. Maybe forever.
I held myself to "Sugar Mountain" well into my twenties. Maybe I still do, I don't know. But one day after turning 30, I was listening to Decade for something like the millionth time and it hit me: I can't keep going back to Sugar Mountain. I just have to get over it.
Everyone gets older, even the young. Even Neil Young. There's nothing wrong with looking back. Perhaps more important is looking forward. But the best we can do for ourselves, no matter our age, is to look at Now, as slippery as it is to grasp. Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain ...