“Don’t confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them.”


Do you know the Jackson Browne song These Days? I first discovered it via the Nico cover version which was used in Wes Anderson’s masterpiece, The Royal Tenenbaums and it’s been a favourite of mine since then. For one reason and another, it’s been the soundtrack to the last couple of weeks for me.

Letting the wisdom and world weariness of the words and playing wash over me, it seems mind-boggling that Jackson Browne wrote this when he was 16. The idea that a teenager could somehow capture exactly how I feel at 41 is strange and uncanny. When he sings, Now if I seem to be afraid to live the life I have made in song/Well it’s just that I’ve been losing so long” he seems to have summed up in a few lines the essence of being human and being afraid to move forwards. And when he sings, “These days I sit on cornerstones and count the time in quarter-tones to ten”, it cuts straight to my soul like an injection of pure emotion.

As with many artists that people write off as ‘depressing’, from Leonard Cohen to Nick Drake to The Smiths, despite the downbeat lyrics and melancholy guitar sound, there’s a crack of light in there. While the whole thing is soaked in regret and the sadness of wasted possibilities, there’s an intuitive almost-optimism towards the end – “Things are bound to be improving these days.” A sense of healing, making peace with the past, moving on. Thank you, Jackson Browne, for the utterly sublime writing of this truly beautiful song.

Right, I’ll be back to banging on about ads tomorrow, promise!


About antmelder
Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas Sydney; passionate vegetarian; lover of books, boxing and Bruce Springsteen.

3 Responses to “Don’t confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them.”

  1. Rob Hatfield says:

    At the risk of being presumptuous, may I offer some advice? I’m 58, and I can tell you that the feelings you have been having of late about life and missed opportunities amplify with age. What whispers in your ear at 41 shouts from the hilltops at 60. When I was around your age, just having divorced after 23 years of marriage, I found myself in a position to sell everything, buy a sailboat and set sail for adventure. I was really serious, but afraid…unsure. I told my father about my dilemma (a retired Air Force pilot who lived life LARGE). Should I or shouldn’t I? To my surprise, he said you only live once. Go for it. It was the best advice he ever gave me that I never followed. I regret it to this day.

  2. antmelder says:

    Thanks for this, Rob, I really appreciate it. To be honest, I’ve had the sense of missed opportunities and life slipping away since I was about 15! But you’ve reminded me that as you get older and your choices/opportunities start to get narrower, that sense builds and builds. Jeez, I need to get some stuff done! I don’t want to get to the other end of my life and have to deal with too much regret. Brings to mind that Kierkegaard quote – “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” People like me worry about it, try to plan and strategise; people like your dad just do cool stuff. Still, I’m about to embark on a very big adventure. I’ll tell you about it soon…

  3. Rob Hatfield says:

    I look forward to hearing about it…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: