Alphaville – Forever Young
If I had to stop time for a moment in order to to sum up Alphaville’s great career, I would probably choose the days between mid and late September 1984.
The three German boys were already quite famous from the beginning of that year, that is, since the release in January of their debut single, “Big in Japan“, which was a tremendous success. A few months later, in May, they were successful again with “Sounds like a melody”, but what happened in September really changed the course of their careers forever, and, if we want, the course of the 80s.
In fact, on September 20, Alphaville released their most famous success, just a few days ahead of the album with the same title. “Forever young” was really a masterpiece, completely unexpected. A song with slow pace, romantic sounds, and such deep lyrics that it was not immediately understood.
The song, as we said, is an absolute masterpiece. And over the years it has been sampled and reinterpreted so many times, even by entirely different generations, let’s think of the famous 2009 version of Jay-Z and Mr. Hudson, indistinguishable in ther first verses, until a note is slightly faster than the original. That version was called “Young forever.”
The lyrics obviously speak of the concept of eternal youth, an anthropological myth of many cultures, intertwined with the concept of immortality. A myth interpreted in so many art forms, like the gloomy evolution of Dorian Gray, the legends of the elixir of long life, or the Holy Grail that was also a source of eternal life.
Although being forever young does not automatically imply immortality, and although immortality does not necessarily imply eternal youth, it is evident that both myths exorcise the greatest fear of the human being, and its inescapable destiny.
The lyrics of the song introduce us to the theme, and between the lines Alphaville express the greatest fear for those who were teenagers in the mid-80s, with the nightmare of nuclear war summed up in the verse “Are you gonna drop the bomb or not”. The video gives us a much deeper reading. Filmed in a former sanatorium in Surrey, England, it begins with a series of people of various ages who literally wake up and come back to life to the sound of the song.
They had been lying on the ground probably for some time, given the dusty environment, but their bodies and faces are intact. As Marian Gold and Alphaville sing along, some iconographic elements emerge. The most significant is definitely the bright opening in the shape of a diamond. Through this opening, in a dazzling light, the people who were in the room come out and disappear from the sight of those who remain in the room, probably going to meet their eternal youth.
Of course, the passage through the diamond-shaped gate filled with light can certainly represent birth, but also the transition from one life to another that escapes the rules of time and the constraints of a body that begins to age at the time of birth. What Marian Gold probably wants to ask us, is whether we truly desire eternal youth, because it could turn out to be a superficial desire, with implications that we may not be ready to face.
Going back to lighter concepts, I need to say that the album “Forever young” is absolutely one of my favorites of the 80s, and it really contained a bunch of incredible songs one, even the less famous ones. I choose this album as a Christmas gifted for a dear friend who was initially surprised, but a few weeks later he came and told me that it was really one of the most beautiful albums he ever heard. And I totally agreed with him.
To finish with a little bit of smile, this song had only one flaw: when there was a party in high school, if you were aiming for a girl you would just wait for the right music to dance with her. The right music was, generally, George Michael’s “Careless Whisper,” or Alphaville’s “Forever young.” For some strange reason, countless couples were formed during “Careless whisper.” At the end of “Forever young”, on the other hand, I remember so many sad people who let themselves taking different paths. We didn’t think it was such a lucky song after all, but we knew it was absolutely one of the great masterpieces of the 80s!
Alphaville on Wikipedia