The Age Of Anxiety

Album: Taller (2019)
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Songfacts®:

  • Shortly after Jamie Cullum made his first television appearance - on Parkinson at age 23 - he signed a £1m contract for three albums with Universal. His first album with the label, Twentysomething, was the fastest-selling jazz album in UK chart history and Cullum ended 2003 as the UK's biggest selling jazz artist of all time. "The Age Of Anxiety," recorded 17 years later, finds him reflecting on his meteoric rise and how he has grown to become a family man and musician.

    "But what's a man these days?" I hear you cry
    And are we raising up our children right?
    Is my career gonna reignite?


    Cullum told the BBC the song is about all the things that worry him. "It's about the age we live in," he explained, "but it's also about my encroaching middle age, and the kinds of anxieties and the things I might think about when I'm lying awake."

    Cullum added: "When I was 23, I had this moment where I was super well-known and everything took off very quickly. And it's kind of a moment of harking back to that."
  • I just wanna live inside sometimes
    Don't wanna have to beg you to subscribe


    The opening line came from someone telling Cullum he doesn't share enough of his personal life, and he felt as if he wanted to jump out of the window. The rest of the song became a free association of concerns, including how the debate about the UK leaving the EU was fueled by fomenting fear of immigrants. As the son of an immigrant from Burma, the subject is close to Cullum's heart.

    No, I won't be your apparatchik
    And be the kind who's blind to all its magic
    So here comes your European exit
    With asylum seekers in your attic


    Reflecting on the verse, Cullum explained to The Guardian: "We have a duty to show compassion, to people who are in the greatest kind of need. But there are no simple answers, and I hope this song isn't heavy-handedly saying there are. Songs are uniquely positioned to hold the opposites perhaps more than some other mediums can."
  • The song refers to texts Cullum received from the late Amy Winehouse, who passed away in 2011.

    Do those kids know that I was somebody?
    And I've kept all my texts from Amy


    Cullum and Winehouse were friends in the early 2000s, and she supported him on his first tour. While Cullum was clearing out his studio in 2018 he came across some old phones, including a BlackBerry. When he plugged the Blackberry in, he found a bunch of old text messages between him and the Back to Black star; Cullum felt heartbroken as he read the texts and recalled how her tragic story unfolded.
  • Jamie Cullum wrote this song with his producer, Troy Miller, who was Amy Winehouse's drummer for several years.
  • Cullum recorded the song for his 2019 album Taller. The record title is a reference to the difference between his height (5' 4") and his model wife Sophie Dahl's (5' 11").
  • "The Age of Anxiety" was named best song musically and lyrically at the 2020 Ivor Novello Awards. The judges described the track as "important, eloquent and a song that not only empowers, but is borderless in its musicality."

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