Songs in the Key of Life (RetroFlash) by
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Dear Teenage Me,*

Good news: lots of songs to come.  Not-so-good news: songs get worse (even per my daughters).

Lessons from songs?

Beatles?  Great songs, but nope.

“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”  (Really? That’s All? What if she’s just seventeen?)

“She Loves You” (But how do YOU feel?)

“Please Please Me” (Opposite problem.)


Stones?  Not immediately:


“Satisfaction” (Early whinging)

“Under My Thumb” (Worse; misogynistic/abusive)


You can’t always get what you want.

But if you try sometimes,

You just might find,

You get what you need.”



You’re welcome,

Old Me


p.s. Keep trying for that beauty from junior high:



  • *


Profile photo of John Shutkin John Shutkin

Characterizations: funny, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Clever hot take. Glad you got what you wanted…eventually. Kathie was worth the wait.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Good one, John! Loved the way you used RetroFlash here.

  3. Wonderful John, and brilliantly illustrated!

    Have you seen the great t-shirt that says, I MAY BE OLD BUT I GOT TO SEE ALL THE COOL BANDS?

  4. Marian says:

    Wonderful RetroFlash, John, and I think you got both what you wanted and needed.

  5. I guess there’s a story here that I don’t know: The young woman depicted above was an object of affection earlier on, and at some later point became your partner? You can edit this out if I am way off base!
    It was fun to imagine an oracle telling this teen-ager about all the songs that were on the way.

    • John Shutkin says:

      Right, Dale. I didn’t want to repeat things I’ve told in earlier Retro stories, but I had a crush on my wife when we were both in junior high school together, but she was always dating older, cooler guys. However, our paths crossed 30+ years later and this time she noticed me; we’ve now been married for 16 years.

  6. LOL, John! So many chauvinistic rockers…but I can’t help it, I still love them. And yet I remember being (and still being) appalled and disgusted by certain popular rappers for being so overtly sexist and even misogynistic. Seems some things never change…back in the ’40s there was the less overt but now outed “Baby, it’s cold outside,” with its supposedly harmless but thinly veiled pressure bordering on date rape, which led to John Legend rewriting the lyrics for his remake to reflect the #metoo consciousness. Which begs the question: Do we want the Beatles’ and Stones’ lyrics rewritten for remakes?

    • John Shutkin says:

      Thanks, Barb. And, even as a straight guy, I have long been ambivalent about a lot of song lyrics — and those who sing them. Conversely, I always admired songs like Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me.” We could easily do a whole separate prompt on this issue, don’t you think?

  7. Suzy says:

    Nice RetroFlash, John, wish I had thought of it first! As you see, I haven’t written this week, but my excuse is that I was in Georgia helping to save democracy. And now that I’m back, I see that you (and Laurie) have used all the best song titles, so there’s no point. 🙂

    • John Shutkin says:

      Helping save democracy vs. writing a Retro story? I question your priorities. But, yes, Laurie and I seizedthe moment and took all the best song titles. As Peggy Lee famously sung, “Is that all there is?”

      Seriously, congrats on the wonderful work in Georgia. Can you now fix Washington?

  8. Great way to visit the prompt, John! Certainly wasn’t much to get from the Beatles but — as I recall — I think you rendezvous’d with that beauty after all, que no?

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