Watching the Parade: The New Radicals, Beau Biden, and Me

That song was all about middle-aged freedom and sex. Every note from the television lit up a different part of my brain, firing off a technicolor film reel of memories that siren-called me to stop and let them wash over me like a bath of warm honey.

The pursuit of personal and professional perfection ultimately lost its appeal. Perfection for its own sake is hollow and lonely and creates a giant wall of intolerance.

Rolling Stone considers “You Get What You Give” one of the top 50 songs of the 90s, calling it “one gloriously grandiose prom anthem.” Joni Mitchell said it was the best song she’d heard in 20 years. If the lead singer wanted to be a star, all he had to do was everything he was told.

Beau Biden had been moving in a straight line toward his goals for his entire life. Before he entered public service, he was emotional support for his brother, his sister, and his father.

When I heard that song again, the bright clear sound shot straight into my brain, like a whiff of Old Spice still triggers memories of my very first boyfriend. Immediately, I was back in the affair and I felt free and desired and excited again.

There’s a moral or a lesson buried underneath all of this, but I’m afraid if I regurgitate a worn-out aphorism to sum it all up, I might explode. After all, my sister-in-law and Beau gave a lot, so if, as the band sang, “we only get what we give” is true, why didn’t they live forever?



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Kelly Allen

Kelly Allen

Writer, teacher, lover of all critters. Passionate about culture, politics, history, jazz, and books.