Got a favourite song about ageing? The pop culture universe is well stocked with beautiful songs about traversing the life course. I find it impossible to choose between Frank Sinatra’s iconic “It Was a Very Good Year”, Neil Young’s haunting “Old Man” and the catchy “7 Years” from Danish band Lukas Graham.
There’s a smattering of songs pushing back against ageism and generational differences – think “End of the Line” from the Traveling Wilburys and “Living Years” by Mike + the Mechanics.
But, until now, there has never been a song about age discrimination by employers and recruiters.
On this episode of The Big Middle, we meet Australian singer-songwriter Kelea. Her poignant ballad “Dear Sir/Madam” is surely a contender for theme song of the growing, global movement to expose ageism in all its demeaning forms and end it.
I reached Kelea, who is Kelly Gardner off-stage, at her country home near Perth.
Lyrics Dear sir/madam
Thank you for your interest in our company
We received your life summarized in a one-page CV
We regret to inform you, you were unsuccessful
You were one of many, just not the best we’d hoped for
We couldn’t help but notice a few minor holes in your application
And your choice to stay at home lack of Y chromosome gives us hesitation
Not quite suited to our political agenda
But we wish you well in your future endeavours
And the lines beneath her eyes
Earned from mothering a child selflessly
Count for nothing when they’re blinded by an under-35 policy
Thank you for your 35 years with our company
We regret to inform you of your redundancy
Payment enclosed with some great referrals
You were one of many and it’s nothing personal
Yes the umpires pick their sides in a game of high school popularity
There’s a man with a briefcase on a bus and out of work age 53
So I’m sitting and I’m staring hesitating at a box marked date of birth
Please fill in this application so our algorithm works out what you’re worth
Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Sir/Madam
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