Archive for February 20th, 2012

Grand Ole Opry star Roy Clark sang “Yesterday When I Was Young” at Mickey Mantle’s funeral in 1995. Mantle identified with the song so much that he made Clark promise to sing it at his funeral.

“That’s my life,” Mantle said.

Although songs about a self-absorbed man who has wasted his life on foolish pleasures are not usually sung at funerals, Clark honored his promise to his friend. Southern writer Ronda Rich remembered Mantle’s funeral:

It was powerful. I watched on television and was chilled by that one moment. I’ve never been more haunted by a song at someone’s funeral.”

For Mantle, the song’s lyrics conveyed his regrets for having lived such a reckless, self-indulgent life:

Yesterday When I Was Young” 

Seems the love I’ve known has always been

the most destructive kind

Yes, that’s why now I feel so old

before my time.


Yesterday when I was young

the taste of life was sweet as rain upon my tongue.

I teased at life as if it were a foolish game,

the way the evening breeze may tease a candle flame.

The thousand dreams I dreamed, the splendid things I planned

I always built to last on weak and shifting sand.

I lived by night and shunned the naked light of the day

and only now I see how the years ran away.


Yesterday when I was young

so many happy songs were waiting to be sung,

so many wild pleasures lay in store for me

and so much pain my dazzled eyes refused to see.

I ran so fast that time and youth at last ran out,

I never stopped to think what life was all about

and every conversation I can now recall

concerned itself with me and nothing else at all.

Yesterday the moon was blue

and every crazy day brought something new to do.

I used my magic age as if it were a wand

and never saw the waste and emptiness beyond.

The game of love I played with arrogance and pride

and every flame I lit too quickly, quickly died.

The friends I made all seemed somehow to drift away

and only I am left on stage to end the play.


There are so many songs in me that won’t be sung,

I feel the bitter taste of tears upon my tongue.

The time has come for me to pay for

yesterday when I was young…

I.M. Kane

Yesterday – Roy Clark 3:19 Video

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