Headmaster’s Thoughts – May 2008

If you are looking for deep thoughts, you may have to look quite hard this month, since this piece is about a minor disagreement between my wife and me which has been going on for a few years.


You see, graduation is approaching, and we differ about the artist who sings the background song while the slides of the graduates are being shown. Graduation is a lovely occasion, and this year we are excited to have it for the first time in the newly renovated (and gorgeous) Christian Science Church on our corner at 68th and Central Park West. We agree about the song. It has always been (and should continue to be) “Forever Young”. We agree that it sums up both the parents’ and our hopes for our graduates. But, and here is the meat of the conflict, Jayme prefers the upbeat Rod Stewart version while I prefer the rather slower (and admittedly more nasal) original version by Bob Dylan.


I warned you these thoughts were not too deep!


Both Jayme and I agree that this is an exceptional graduating class. Our seniors are smart and interesting, and it has been a genuine pleasure to have them at school. So, as fond as Jayme and I are of them, we want their graduation to be perfect. Jayme likes the driving beat and better singing of Rod Stewart, and she finds the whole Stewart number to be more optimistic than the slower and more whiny delivery of Dylan. I really can’t argue with that: Rod Stewart has the better voice. His lyrics do not directly give credit to Dylan, though the structure of the song and the tune are so similar that it seems clear to me that Rod Stewart’s song has its origins in the Dylan original. I think that Dylan, who recently won a long overdue Pulitzer Prize, has an authenticity about his delivery which Rod Stewart cannot equal.


I have quoted both lyrics at the end of this piece. Each has a sweetness that some might find overdone, but graduation is overdone anyway. The whole ceremony is (let’s be honest) a triumph of mutual congratulation and self-indulgence. Perhaps that is why I like it. It is like a wedding – it’s schmaltzy. How nice! And who doesn’t wish for our seniors that they stay forever young in their hearts?


The solution to our little conundrum, like all good ones, is a compromise. The slides of our 53 students will take long enough to show that we can start with Bob Dylan and then immediately go on to Rod Stewart. If you ask why my choice goes first, I have an answer, but my wife might read this so we had better speak privately. I feel like giving all the guests a little polling slip on which they can write down their preference for future years. But that might take away from the splendor of graduation (filling out ballots while the graduates march in), and it would certainly reveal the egocentricity of yours truly.


Well, these are my “thoughts” after all.



“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan


May God bless you and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.


May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young.
Forever young, forever young,

May you stay forever young.
May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

“Forever Young” by Rod Stewart, J. Cregan, K. Savigar


May the Good lord be with you
Down every road you roam,
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when you’re far from home,
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you’d have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you’ll always stay
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young


May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong,
Build a stairway to heaven
With a prince or vagabond,
And may you never love in vain
And in my heart you will remain
Forever young, forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
Forever young, forever young.


And when you finally fly away
I’ll be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell,
But whatever road you choose
I’m right behind you, win or lose
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young
Forever young, forever young
For, forever young, forever young.



Ronald P. Stewart, Headmaster
E-mail: rstewart@yorkprep.org 

“Headmaster’s Thoughts” for previous months are archived in the section In the News . You may access additional months by clicking Headmaster’s Thoughts Archives on the same page.