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“I’m An Adult Now” — The Pursuit of Happiness

July 5, 2010

I started writing the dorn blog just over a year ago.  My first post was titled “The Purfuit of Happineff”1 — the phrase is a punchline from a skit about the Declaration of Independence on the classic 1961 comedy album Stan Freberg Presents The United States of America: Volume One The Early Years.2 

I recently re-read that first post and recalled that there was a rock band called The Pursuit of Happiness.  It seemed appropriate on this 4th of July weekend to select a song by them for this week’s DJ MJD’s Back Tracks post.

During much of the 1980’s I put together mix tapes — cassettes to listen to in my car and send to friends.  Sometime in 1988 I began working on one that I didn’t finish; for whatever reason, I never made another mix tape.  The opening song on that final, unfinished cassette was “I’m An Adult Now” by The Pursuit of Happiness.  Significant?  Perhaps… but more likely just an ironic coincidence.

Let’s give it a listen:

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Moe Berg was the creative force behind The Pursuit of Happiness.  The original version of “I’m An Adult Now,” a self-produced single released in 1986, was a cult hit in their native Canada.  They re-recorded it in 1988 with Todd Rundgren producing; it was the first single from their debut album Love Junk

This was the version that I first heard and put on that incomplete tape (and it’s the one posted here).  Since it was the 80’s, there was a video for it3 — incredibly, MTV originally banned it because of the lyrical references to alcohol, sex and drugs.  What genius decided that the basic cable audience needed to be protected from statements such as “I can’t even look at young girls anymore/People will think I’m some kind of pervert”?  Eventually MTV showed it and it became a modest hit in the U.S.

Moe Berg, like his fellow Jewish-Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, writes wryly humorous lyrics about the complications of sex and romance.  He’s also published a collection of short stories, The Green Room.4 

I do have one quibble:  The Pursuit of Happiness is a Canadian band.  What gives them the right to use “our” famous patriotic phrase for their name?  I wonder how Canadians would feel about a U.S. band called “The True North Strong and Free”?  Yeah, I know… it’s not likely to happen.

Bizarrely, it turns out that there’s even a cover version — a Rhino Records anthology called Tales From The Rhino includes a version by Mogan David & His Winos.5  Oy vey!

  1. http://thedornblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/the-purfuit-of-happineff/
  2. http://www.amazon.com/Freberg-Presents-United-States-America/dp/B0000033TV
  3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSDF8VvU13M
  4. http://www.amazon.com/Green-Room-Moe-Berg/dp/189635632X
  5. http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Rhino-Various-Artists/dp/B0000033CL
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From → The 1980's

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