Old Man & Me (When I Get to Heaven)

Album: Fairweather Johnson (1993)
Charted: 57 13
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Songfacts®:

  • This song tells the story of an old man who is homeless and suffers the indignity of being ignored and disparaged. Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker wrote the lyric after an encounter with a homeless man in Columbia, South Carolina. He was leaving one bar and headed for another when the guy asked him for change. Rucker made a snide remark and kept on walking. By the time he got to the next bar, he felt like a heel.

    The next morning, he thought about what this guy's story might be and imagined a conversation where he told his tale. In Rucker's story, the guy got sent off to war where he saw the horrors. Now he's all alone, wondering who will walk with him when he gets to heaven. He used this as the basis of the song and decided to have a lot more compassion for the homeless in the future.
  • "Old Man & Me" was first released in 1993 on the Hootie & the Blowfish EP Kootchypop, named after a term they heard a female comedian use to refer to her... you know. They had built up a solid following by playing live shows in and around South Carolina and were able to road test the song by performing it. By the time they recorded it at Reflections Studios in Charlotte, they had it well polished.
  • The band re-recorded "Old Man & Me" for their second album, Fairweather Johnson, which couldn't live up to the impossible standard set by their debut, Cracked Rear View, the top-selling debut album in history. Released as the first single, it stalled at #13 in the US and didn't get much buzz. By this time, many listeners had heard so much Hootie from their first album that they just couldn't take any more. The album ended up selling 3 million copies in the US, which would be spectacular under most circumstances, but not when compared to the 21 million for Cracked Rear View.
  • The music video is very artsy, with shots of the band performing outdoors intercut with footage of boys and men in various life stages. It's all covered with a blue tint. Dan Winters, best known for his photography, is the director.
  • When the band re-recorded the song for Fairweather Johnson, they had a hard time finding the feel that made in one of their live standouts years earlier. They also didn't have time to get it to their liking. "You don't have time to prepare a second record if you release it quickly, compared to the four years you had preparing your first record, so that doesn't bode well for anybody," drummer Jim Sonefeld said on the Songfacts Podcast. "In hindsight, we did the best we could."

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