Salad Days by Mac DeMarco Lyrics Meaning – Nostalgia, Youth, and the Reluctant March of Time


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Mac DeMarco's Salad Days at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning

Lyrics

As I’m getting older, chip up on my shoulder
Rolling through life, to roll over and die
La la-la la-la, la la-la la-la
La la-la la-la, oh-oh
Missin’ Hippie Jon, salad days are gone
Remembering things just to tell ’em so long
La la-la la-la, la la-la la-la
La la-la la-la, oh-oh

Oh mama
Actin’ like my life’s already over
Oh dear
Act your age and try another year

Always feeling tired, smiling when required
Write another year off and kindly resign
La la-la la-la, la la-la la-la
La la-la la-la, oh-oh
Salad days are gone, missin’ Hippie Jon
Remember the days just to tell ’em so long
La la-la la-la, la la-la la-la
La la-la la-la, oh-oh

Oh mama
Actin’ like my life’s already over
Oh dear
Act your age and try another year
Oh mama
Actin’ like my life’s already over
Oh dear
Act your age and try another year

Full Lyrics

Mac DeMarco’s ‘Salad Days,’ a track suffused with jangly guitar riffs and mellow vocals, offers more than just a laid-back vibe; it’s a reflective ode to the transient nature of youth. DeMarco, known for his off-kilter charm and earnest lyricism, peels through layers of nostalgia, wistfulness, and a pressing sense of mortality in this track. It’s a song that, quite literally, grows older with the listener.

This gently persuasive number, the title track off his 2014 album, speaks to a universal truth: the passage of youth is inevitable, but the memories are both a balm and a burden. The ‘Salad Days’ are emblematic of a time of innocence and vibrancy, now slipping away, giving the song an eternal resonance that fans and newcomers alike can’t help but feel deep in their bones.

A Melancholic Homage to Lost Youth

In the lexicon of ‘Salad Days,’ Mac DeMarco tugs at the threads of fleeting youth. The term itself, a reference to Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra,’ where Cleopatra speaks of her ‘salad days, when I was green in judgment,’ captures the essence of DeMarco’s intent. His lyrics seamlessly intertwine a sense of regret for the fading impetuosity of the younger years with a self-aware bit of existential dread for the future.

The singer-songwriter speaks directly to the listener, admitting his own mounting age and the weight it brings. His shoulder chips away, a metaphor for the burdens grown heavier with each passing year, and the once vibrant hue of youth now seems to blend into a monochrome reality, a theme that is skillfully woven into the track’s very sinews.

Peering Through the Lens of Nostalgia

‘Missin’ Hippie Jon, salad days are gone,’ sings DeMarco, reminiscing over a character that seems to symbolize a purer, simpler time. Perhaps a personal anecdote or an archetype of a carefree spirit, Hippie Jon represents those untouchable memories embedded with the innocence and naiveté of the past. The recollection of ‘Hippie Jon’ evokes a blend of happiness and sadness, a familiar dichotomy that speaks to the heart.

Nostalgia acts as a double-edged sword within the music’s confines, cutting between fond remembrance and the ache of irretrievability. The laconic ‘la-la-la’s’ serve as a wistful chorus, embodying the human tendency to retreat into the comfort of days gone by—a technique DeMarco uses masterfully to underscore the emotional heft of this inevitable backward glance.

The Persistent Refrain and its Hidden Meaning

The repetition of ‘Oh mama, actin’ like my life’s already over’ echoes the pressures of hastening adulthood and the societal expectations to ‘grow up.’ DeMarco seems to grapple with the impression that with the end of his ‘salad days,’ there arrives an imposed expiration date for dreams, desires, and the leisure to merely be. This looped refrain punctuates the song, drawing attention to the dangerous pitfalls of premature resignation.

In contrast, the plea ‘Act your age and try another year’ can be deciphered as a call to resist the urge to surrender to despondency. The singer urges both himself and the audience to persevere, to embrace another orbit around the sun despite the feeling of stagnation or decay. It’s a subtle reminder: time marches on, and there is a courageousness in continuing to move with it.

Numb Acceptance and the Veil of Smiles

As DeMarco notes, ‘Always feeling tired, smiling when required,’ there’s an acknowledgment of life’s often performative nature. The musician lays bare a universal truth about adulthood—the outward display of contentment, irrespective of inner fatigue or disillusionment. The notion of writing another year off conveys a sense of passive endurance rather than active engagement with life.

With ‘kindly resign,’ there is an inference of succumbing to the standard procedures of aging, a ritualistic acceptance of what one presumes is their due course. This line offers a profound comment on the subtleties of growing older in a world that unspokenly dictates when our prime is up and nudges us to fade into the background gracefully.

Crescendo of Moments: The Song’s Most Memorable Lines

Mac DeMarco’s ‘Salad Days’ is peppered with lines that linger in the listener’s mind, resonating long after the music has stopped. One such line, ‘Salad days are gone, missin’ Hippie Jon,’ captures the entire essence of the piece—a lament for a lost epoch that remains just out of reach, retold in stories and evoked in melodies but never again to be experienced in its original form.

Furthermore, ‘Write another year off and kindly resign’ is memorably poignant, encapsulating the quiet surrender many feel as they transition from one phase of life to the next. These lines, emblematic of DeMarco’s introspective craftsmanship, are what elevates the song to a modern-day anthem for those wading through the introspective depths of their own ‘salad days’—whether they’re presently living them or gazing back from the dimming light of retrospect.

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