I would like to share three things that came into my life, outside of my family, friends, and my life, that had a lasting impact on me. Mickey Mantle, Roy Clark, and the song Yesterday When I Was Young. Of course, that song was a hit for Roy Clark and was written by the French singer Charles Aznavour. We lost Mr. Aznavour October 1st this year, and then Mr. Clark on Nov. 15th, 2018.
Roy Clark was a very accomplished showman and guitarist, reaching the big time on Hee Haw, but was lesser known for his singing. He had a hit with a funny, novelty type song called Thank God and Greyhound (She’s gone), but he also recorded the tear jerker Tips Of My Fingers (written by Bill Anderson) with a strong and heartfelt voice, and gained substantial chart success. But his version of Yesterday When I was Young was not only a major hit for Roy in 1969, but a showcase of vocal ability and feeling that would surprise those that see Mr. Clark as a guitarist and a funny guy.
The song Yesterday When I Was Young is simply a beautiful song, no matter who sings it. The melody still floats around my head often, even after nearly fifty years. I’ve listened to The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and all sorts of songs over the years, but Yesterday When I Was Young still stands out like a beacon in the night. Of course, the lyrics don’t hurt the song either. It has words of wisdom that everyone can learn from, and could use to make life much better if taken to heart. A sample of the Lyrics:
The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned
I always built to last on weak and shifting sand
I lived by night and shunned the naked light of day
And only now I see how the years ran away
I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out
I never stopped to think what life was all about
And every conversation I can now recall
Concerned itself with me and nothing else at all
Those verses take me directly to Mickey Mantle. One of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game, and my favorite sportsman ever. As talented as he was, though, he was not the most impressive guy in his private life. But we loved him. We still do. Mickey knew his faults so well and understood that his choices in life had not given him the best outlook for a very long life. Mickey did take the time to plan out his funeral, picking his pallbearers, the funeral’s location, the songs to be played at his funeral, and all the other details that many of us take for granted. One of the songs Mickey wanted played at his funeral was Yesterday When I Was Young. The song fit him to a tee. Mickey died at 63 years old August 13, 1995.
A friend of mine was a close friend of the Mantle family and was able to go to the private funeral. He assured me he would give me details when he returned from Dallas after the funeral. I knew Mickey had requested a tape of Yesterday When I was Young by Roy Clark be played at the funeral. Imagine my surprise when my friend shared the events of the funeral with me and informed that they did not play said tape. “How could they not follow Mickey’s simple, important request?”, I asked, disappointingly. My friend replied, “Roy Clark showed up and sang it!”