This is supposed to be the best time of our lives. Old and “wise” people will say it’s because we’re young, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s because we are still exploring and discovering the world and all the possibilities for our lives: ways to live and career paths to follow. That feeling of uncertainty and excitement we feel before, during, and after (or instead of) college is corroborated by Jamie Cullum in his song, “Twentysomething.”
The lyrics of this song start out with a few lines about college and wondering what comes next. “I’m an expert on Shakespeare and that’s a hell of a lot./ But the world don’t need scholars as much as I thought…” so what should be the next move in life after college? The song discusses the various options, including traveling, working on living a healthy lifestyle, finding a career, and falling in love. After considering his options he’s still uncertain, saying, “The truth eludes me” and “Who knows the answer? Who do you trust?”
However, he ends by explaining what he has realized is that staying yourself is the most important thing in life. Don’t change who you are just to get the job you want or to find someone who loves you, because then they don’t love you for who you are but for whom you’re pretending to be. According to Cullum, “I’m still having fun and I guess that’s the key:/ I’m a twentysomething and I’ll keep being me.” Enjoy being yourself, even if you’re a little weird or outlandish – there’s someone, some group, and some job out there you belong with, and someday you’ll find it!
Scatting away in this upbeat song, Cullum expresses the average experiences of twentysomethings world-wide and generations deep. It comes with the “where do I go from here?” feeling of young adulthood, whether before, after, or in lieu of higher education. The confused thoughts running through this “twentysomething’s” mind match with the song’s musical rhythm of fluctuating beats. This causes the tune to sound similar to spoken-word. The rhythm constructs and how they change within each verse of the song are fascinating. They start short and often end more drawn out, such as in the lines, “Love ain’t the answer./ Nor is work./ The truth eludes me:/ so much it hurts!” and “Don’t make me live for my Friday nights:/drinking eight pints and getting in fights…” both of which express different possible aspects of any twentysomething’s outlook on life. Under the jazz category, scat and varying beats are not uncommon, but the way they are combined in this song with a tempo that changes like that of William Shatner’s speech patterns, makes the song even more dynamic and interesting to listen to. Although his style is not that of smooth jazz per se, Cullum’s song should get any young adult for generations to come to perk up their ears and think, “Hey, yeah! That’s me!”
This soulful tune, perhaps not in the traditional sense, should remain captivating and the perspective it lends us understandable and relatable even to our own generation, though “Twentysomething” was first recorded by Jamie Cullum in 2003: about the time we were all in the midst of elementary school. Good for a laugh and a reminder of some important principles in life, like “be yourself.” In any event, Cullum’s song is a fun way to start your day—or your adult life.
Gabrielle Lamontagne is a junior majoring in French and business administration.