NPR logo Outliving Regrets, with George Jones in Tow

Outliving Regrets, with George Jones in Tow

Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age

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Jerry Lee Lewis justifies a laundry list of youthful indiscretions. hide caption

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The title of Jerry Lee Lewis' latest album, Last Man Standing, references the Million Dollar Quartet, Sun Records' big four of Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley. But just because the other three have died, that doesn't mean that Lewis lacks peers, as the disc's duets with the likes of Willie Nelson, B.B. King and Little Richard make clear.

Few can match Lewis' reputation, though, which is where George Jones comes in. "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age" doesn't quite crack the two-minute mark, but in that brief time, two volatile careers intersect, tip their hats to one another and head off again in separate directions, reenergized. The song comes from Bob Wills, and it's built on a hopped-up Western lope that underscores the sense of glee that comes with surviving long enough to justify a laundry list of youthful indiscretions.

If anybody would know about that, it's The Killer and No-Show Jones. Trading verses and interjecting encouragement to one another throughout the song, the two septuagenarians look back on lives lived hard without the faintest hint of apology or regret. It could hardly be self-destructive behavior if they're still here to tell about it, they seem to say, and damned if it isn't a convincing argument.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Last Man Standing
Jerry Lee Lewis

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