Interpretations:I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die

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Interpretation 1[edit]

I'd say that this song is about a famous line in The Who's "My Generation"... "I hope I die before I get old!" Random 23:24, March 25, 2004

That's funny, because I totally just realized the exact same thing after watching the I, Robot preview and downloading the theme song (My Generation). OK, well "the dirt I'll be wearing for a shirt" is definitely when the speaker is dead and buried. It reminds me of the scene in R&G are Dead when they talk about what it would be like to be dead. And the "long, long rope" would qualify as a wisp. But I can't really connect any of these observations together, sorry. Overall the song makes no sense to me. --Josh Stern 21:02, April 13, 2004
I'm pretty sure the long, long rope is a noose, actually. I think this song is just about a guy who's getting up there in years and wants to make the most of his time. "Being wispy" and "being dry" might mean being abstract or sarcastic -- obstructions to true and meaningful communication. He's realizing that he will not be here forever, and he needs to make his life mean something. He hopes he has a while yet to do that, and he hopes that at the end, when on the kitchen table he must lie (deathbed, probably), he'll be surrounded by his wife and family and have a lifetime of good memories (the banquet). Ah, death. Every TMBG album would be shorter without it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 152.163.253.38 (talk) 21:34, April 13, 2004

Interpretation 2[edit]

I'm not sure this is quite about trying to get more out of life or "needing more time" to make the most of things. It's absolutely a response to the line from "My Generation," but also a response to that sort of sentiment and ideal that was more popular during the 60s (the John's have already written a few songs -- e.g. Purple Toupee -- about their disconnect from that era and what it was all about). I saw the song as more the kind of modern realization that living recklessly in this kind of rock-n-roll, fly or die, every-day-like-your-last way with all the drugs and boozing...it doesn't really APPLY to bands like TMBG making the kind of music they do with the following they have (even though they are still "rock stars") but in the end, "I hope I die before I get old" is a great kind of rock aphorism, but fundamentally it's just rhetoric. In John and John's experience, they can't afford to live like that because their entire aesthetic and image (not to mention health) would suffer.

So I see this as the TMBG rhetoric, their anthem that corresponds with the music movement . And they're kind of making fun of themselves immediately in the first lines for even writing a song like this: "sometimes i feel like being whispy", i.e. whispy-ness and dry-ness are about as crazy as we get here, folks. they're realizing that there's no sense in kidding yourself about wanting to live a long time, if nothing else so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. --Exclamationpete 22:12, July 20, 2005

Interpretation 3[edit]

This whole song is about a very unhappy marraige. I will dissect it as so:

"Sometimes I feel like being wispy
And once in a while I feel like being dry"
Pretty much, "deal with my personality."
"But we're doomed and we're drowned by this feeling we surround"
The feeling is love. He's been wronged by it.
"So I hope that I get old before I die"
He wants his wife to die before him.
Ohhhhh
"It's a long, long rope they use to hang you soon I hope"
To be taken literally.
"And I wonder why this hasn't happened
Why why why"
No one else sees what his wife is really like.
"And I think about the dirt that I'll be wearing for a shirt"
She's driving him to an early grave
"And I hope that I get old before I die"
"Clear off the kitchen table darling
For on the kitchen table I must lie"
He's given up, he's letting his wife get what she wants.
"I'm just tired for my wife just served the banquet of my life"
He's out of cash, energy, and the will to live.
And I hope that I get old before I die"

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 66.174.79.235 (talk) 09:17, June 4, 2006

Interpretation 4[edit]

AlienGirl's Mystery School Analysis of this song:

"Sometimes I feel like being wispy
And once in a while I feel like being dry
But we're doomed and we're drowned by this feeling we surround
So I hope that I get old before I die"

In the first verse, we get the first clue. The speaker of the song is somebody who feels vulnerable: "doomed and drowned," and is frightened that he'll die young. Why is he frightened? We find that out next.

"Ohhhhh
It's a long, long rope they use to hang you soon I hope
And I wonder why this hasn't happened
Why why why
And I think about the dirt that I'll be wearing for a shirt
And I hope that I get old before I die"

In this verse we get a few clues about the person the speaker is singing this to. He's eligible to be hanged, and we've already heard that his very existence threatens our speaker, makes him feel he'll die young. So we can safely assume that the man who ought to be hanged is a killer. In fact, let's just call him that--the Killer.

Hanging is an unusual method of execution nowadays, but when it was more popular, people widely knew that being hanged with a long rope was unusually brutal, often causing decapitation. That "they" would hang the Killer with a long rope suggests he's so heinous that nobody would care what happened to him.

We also see that the Killer has *not* been hanged yet. He has escaped, and is now in hiding. This is the most important clue to the Killer's identity. (Start thinking now: who should have been hanged, but escaped?)

"Clear off the kitchen table darling
For on the kitchen table I must lie"

This lyric is also important. Lying on the kitchen table is odd. Tables aren't used for relaxing. In fact there's only one context where one lies on a table, and that's a doctor's office. We see by this clue that the Killer is involved in the medical business. (Got it yet?)

"I'm just tired for my wife just served the banquet of my life
And I hope that I get old before I die"

The speaker is announcing that he's tired of this, tired of the Killer escaping justice. His wife, serving the "banquet of (his) life" is tiring him by telling him to stop focusing on the case. It has become his life, and he's hopped on the kitchen table to demonstrate how important it is to him: "I could conceivably be killed by the Killer, how do you know we aren't all at risk with this madman walking around free?"

"Ohhhhh
It's a long, long rope they use to hang you soon I hope
And I wonder why this hasn't happened
Why why why
And I think about the dirt that I'll be wearing for a shirt
And I hope that I get old before I die"

The speaker re-iterates his apprehension and wish for the Killer to be taken out.

Now, let's throw the clues together and see what pattern we've got. The Killer is a notorious doctor, eligible for hanging, but running around loose. This can fit only one person--Josef Mengele, who wasn't hanged like all the other Nazi war criminals, but escaped and lived in Brazil till he died of natural causes. (Something about a giant hairball and a stroke.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.37.7.3 (talk) 01:41, June 28, 2006

Interpretation 5[edit]

When Linnell says "wife" it sounds like "wallet", so to me, that gives two ideas. The latter word, "wallet" could change my whole interpretation, though the lyrics here and in the liner notes say "wife"... --Lemita 02:00, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Interpretation 6[edit]

This song is obviously sung from the perspective of a thing which would want to be aged...a vintage bottle of wine. The deeper interpretations of death and mortality are not intended, at least not initially or directly.

Let's examine the lyrics:

"Sometimes I feel like being wispy/ And once in a while I feel like being dry/ But we're doomed and we're drowned by this feeling we surround/ So I hope that I get old before I die"

Both wispy and dry are terms used to describe the flavor of wine. Doomed to be surrounded by the sorrows that people drink to drown? Obviously, a bottle of wine would want to be old before dying...you age wine for better flavor.

"Ohhhhh/ It's a long, long rope they use to hang you soon I hope/ And I wonder why this hasn't happened/ Why why why/ And I think about the dirt that I'll be wearing for a shirt/ And I hope that I get old before I die"

The line about the rope is open to interpretation, but could still make sense as an inanimate object. Wearing dirt for a shirt is easy enough to see, as a bottle in a wine cellar would be very dusty.

"Clear off the kitchen table darling/ For on the kitchen table I must lie/ I'm just tired for my wife just served the banquet of my life/ And I hope that I get old before I die"

This verse has got to be the clincher. The imagery is very clear, and in all other contexts besides a part of dinner does not make any sense.

So...anybody have a rebuttal? I don't deny that there might be an entendre there, because TMBG does that a lot. But sometimes, their songs are just about the simple things they seem to be about. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.108.168.223 (talk) 14:08, September 17, 2007

Wow. I like that. A lot. ~ magbatz 18:38, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Interpretation 7[edit]

"Clear off the kitchen table darling / For on the kitchen table I must lie / I'm just tired for my wife served the banquet of my life"

It sounds like the singer is describing a wake, particularly one in the Irish tradition. This is the custom of holding a vigil over a body from death until the funeral. The body is traditionally laid out at home on a table or bed, and attended constantly until it is time for the burial ("on the kitchen table I must lie"). Friends and relatives console each other and celebrate the life of the deceased with stories, music, and plenty of food and drink ("the banquet of my life"). The liveliness of the song coupled with its sombre lyrics also evokes the mixture of celebration and mourning at the wake. --pfy 19:56, January 4, 2008

Interpretation 8[edit]

I think that it's about a prisoner on death row. "Hope that it's a long long rope they use to hang you..." could be a reference to the gallows. Throughout, the prisoner does not want to die/be executed, and is lamenting it and is hoping something will save him ("hope that I get old BEFORE I die"). His imminent death is staring him in the face and it is causing him to become depressed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.224.164.116 (talk) 15:54, April 24, 2008

Interpretation 9[edit]

I always thought of Great Expectations where Miss Havisham, who has been wronged by a lover, live as a specter of her former self. While getting old, she refuses to move on in life. When she dies, she plans to be laid upon a large banquet table, which too is cleared off when she nearly dies. That verse just always makes me think of it. --Andy! 23:01, October 24, 2011

The guy is already dead?[edit]

I took it as the guy is deceased. His coffin is sitting on the table (folksy music with an actually folksy setting). He isn't buried yet obviously so he wants to stay there a little longer before he gets buried. The banquet of his life takes on a funnier meaning as well (whether or not you think friends and family came over for a memorial). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mc Frown (talkcontribs) 00:32, February 14, 2012

We want to die?[edit]

I feel like it says to make the most of life, but live in the present. The speaker becomes obsessed with fending off death. With his mind in the future, he anticipates death by trying to push it away. His life revolves around dying- he eats his meals as if they were his last, lying on the table to rest like a body on display. Sometimes he's wispy and occaisionally dry, but he's not bone-dry and crumbling yet! We're obsessed with the gloom lingering inside us. Fascination with what hurts us, the psudo-S&M games we play with our inner selves drown us and we create it, surrounding it with ourselves and occupying our lives with it, in this man's case to extremes. All of this feeling culminates in his negativity toward his wife, who accomodates his obsession. The bad has to go somewhere, and he boasts to her that long after she is hung by a rope that's good and long, he'll be living it up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.83.160.40 (talk) 01:49, June 4, 2012