Yo, AARP

Hold the surveys. Here’s how you find out what’s on the minds of boomers.

1. Go directly to YouTube.

2. Do not tap on cats playing bagpipes, dancing the Hustle or performing laser surgery.

3. Do not click on Taylor Swift. She’s already told you “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”

4. Do click or tap on songs from the 60s or 70s and read the comments. Tip: You’ve found a boomer if profanity is amateurish by today’s standards but better spelled.   

Boomer commenters on YouTube tend to fall into one of three categories:

Activist Investigator “What the hell happened to the Pips?”

Arts Critic “This is real music!!!! Not the *#%&ing trash from today’s no-talents.”

Oversharing Nostalgist “OMG this song came out the summer before senior year when I was dating (insert: Brenda, Joanne, Carol Lee). We listened to it on the radio in my dad’s (blue LTD wagon, red Chevy Impala, black Ford pickup). In September she moved to (North Carolina, East Lansing, West Fargo) and I never saw her again. I still miss (Brenda, Joanne, Carol Lee)…”

And there it is. I always interpret the ellipsis to mean the commenter has abandoned YouTube for Google Search or Facebook and a pinot-fueled hunt for (Brenda, Joanne, Carol Lee). Suddenly he’s Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” banging on a church window, screaming “Elaine! Elaine! Elaine! Elaine!”

Moving on. Boomers on YouTube love sharing backstory about which artist ripped off another artist and trivia about songwriters—and everybody misses Marvin Gaye.

There’s obsessive discussion of who’s dead and general dismay it can be true of anyone under the age of 120. Perhaps the stages of grief need to be expanded for boomers. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. And coming in at the No. 5 spot before Acceptance: Midnight Train to YouTube.

Some songs elicit comments that cover the wide expanse of human experience.

Vietnam veterans talk about Iron Butterfly’s hypnotic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” blaring from helicopters during the war.

More mundanely, another commenter recalls a night when he and a buddy were driving and got separated from the rest of their group traveling in another car. He says it took “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and a couple other songs to regroup, adding that the 17-minute rock classic “really reduced the tension.” Boomers take the point. There’s both a long and short version of the song. If the DJ had played the puny 2:53 “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” our travelers could have ended up in (North Carolina, East Lansing, West Fargo).

Mostly, I guess, we boomers on YouTube like knowing that other boomers remember what we remember, miss what we miss, including our younger selves.

That’s it, AARP. You’re welcome.

Play us out, Butterfly.