Song of the Time
A pop anthem for generation after generation, what does the song 18 Till I Die mean for the man who sung it ?

Do you still sing 18 Till I Die?

Of course I do, it’s my mantra.

How do you remember yourself at 18?

I was living with my brother in Vancouver. My only mode of transport was my bicycle....

Is 18 really a turning point in an adolescent’s life? How does life change for him/her?

It’s different for everyone.

The song also says that someday you’ll be 18 goin’ on 55. How does it feel now that you are closer to that age?

I feel that life has cycles. For me it’s every 10 years. Something happens and your path leads you somewhere else. It’s exciting and I embrace it.

It emphasises the desire to live only for the minute and if you want to stay young you’ve got to get your feet in it. Is that how you felt at 18?

It’s really my metaphor for life. Eighteen is just a word that sounds good, you can be any age as long as you don’t lose that vitality and lust for life.

Was your meeting Jim Vallance at the Vancouver music store at the age of 18 the turning point in your career?

Absolutely. We hit it off immediately and the irony is that we still write together, some 35 years later.

You worked as a dishwasher to save money for a guitar for many years. How did you manage to juggle dishwashing, playing at nightclubs and the studio scene at the same time?

Well, they were all different times of my life. Dishwashing was for a year, then playing at nightclubs happened after I left the restaurant business, and then I left the nightclub musician world to plunge into studio “gun for hire” work. One thing led to the other, so to speak....

You signed on to A&M Records for one dollar in 1978. What did that mean to you at 18?

It meant that I had a foot in the door. Suddenly, everything I had worked for with Jim for a year in his basement was about to kick off. However, it took some time to kick off. I had to work pretty hard on tours for three years before I saw anything happen.

Was quitting school to launch a music career the best decision you took?

School was a dead end for me, and I blame myself entirely for not being more interested. However, I had a taste of the outside world and it wasn’t within the four walls of a classroom.

Music was calling me and I had to answer the call.

Your self-titled album was recorded in 1979 around the time you were 18, which went on to be certified gold in Canada in 1986. You think the songs touched people because of the youth appeal? What was the spirit of the album?

If I ever hear those songs, they seem a million miles away from me today. They actually sound like demos, songs not ready for the studio. From the work I did with that album, the lesson was to take music on to the road and play it. Don’t sit in the studio and create songs, play them for people. You learn from doing that and it improves the music. Things like tempo, structure, length, the type of energy that needs to applied, all that happens when you play it.

How have you managed to hold your sway over youngsters all these years?

I can only attribute that to the Internet and the huge number of “hits” the videos get on YouTube.

If you weren’t a musician at 18, what else could you have done?

I think if I applied my mind to something else, I would have done what I set out to do. I’m like that, I’m a doer....

What’s that one thing about 18 you would die to go back to?

I forget her name, but I’d love to go back and have a visit.

***

I wanna be young the rest of my life
never say no — try anything twice
till the angels come and ask me to fly
I’m gonna be 18 till I die — 18 till I die

can’t live forever that’s wishful thinkin’
whoever said that must of bin’ drinkin’
don’t wanna grow up I don’t see why
I couldn’t care less if time flies by

18 till I die — gonna be 18 till I die
it sure feels good to be alive
someday I’ll be 18 goin’ on 55! — 18 till I die

anyway — I just wanna say
why bother with what happened yesterday
it’s not my style I live for the minute
if ya wanna stay young get both feet in it — 18 till I die

a li’l bit of this — a li’l bit of that
li’l bit of everything — gotta get on track
it’s not how ya look, it’s what ya feel inside
I don’t care when — I don’t need ta know why

18 till I die — gonna be 18 till I die
ya it sure feels good to be alive
someday I’ll be 18 goin’ on 55! — 18 til I die
ya there’s one thing for sure — I’m sure gonna try

don’t worry ’bout the future — forget about the past
gonna have a ball — ya we’re gonna have a blast
gonna make it last — 18 till I die

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