The hazy weather Kuching had the last few days made me think of an old song from my childhood. It’s by Fred Small, and it goes like this:


Fred Small, 1976

Found on Home-Style Stone Soup: The Streetwax Recording Collective

When I was a kid takin’ biology,
I learned about man’s adaptability,
So don’t worry about reapin’ the seed’s we’ve sown.
When the goin’ gets tough, the tough get goin’!
That’s why we’ve got nothin’ to fear.
That’s why we’ll live a zillion years,
‘Cause we can get used to anything!


You can get used to anything–
A sunny day with no birds to sing!
Nitty-gritty in the city makes your eyes sting!
Ozone depletion and Burger King!
A little poison in the food on your plate,
A little cancer when you’re fifty-eight
You can get used to anything!

The factory was billowin’ smoke.
Every mornin’ I’d wake up and start to choke.
My lawyer said, “Wow! This smacks of tort!
Leave it to me. We’ll take the bastards to court!”
The judge said, “Look at the investment they’ve made!
They’re not hurtin’ you much compared to what they’ve paid,
And you can get used to anything!”

Way down South in New Orleans,
You know the drinking water ain’t too clean.
The mayor, he says, “It’s perfectly fine!
If it weren’t, would I give it to children of mine?
Who cares what it does to a couple of rats?
We gotta wait till we all get the facts!
And we can get used to anything!

CHORUS: (…when you’re forty-eight…)

In the year two-thousand and eighty-four
You get a square foot of land apiece and nothin’ more.
Sometimes it seems a little tight,
But the TV’ll tell you it’s all right!
Clean concrete where dirty grass once grew!
No more trees to block your view!
And you can get used to anything!

CHORUS: (…when you’re thirty-eight…)

I use to eat bacon but it went to my brain.
Used to take deep breaths, but now they cause me pain.
Used to buy what I needed, not what’s advertised.
Used to cross the street and not be traumatized!
Used to buy fresh fruit at the corner store.
Used to go to bed without lockin’ my door,
But you can get used to anything!

CHORUS: (…when you’re twenty-eight…)


dally in the Alley poster-1991
Dally in the Alley 1991 poster, featuring the Don’t Look Now Jug Band (and the Detroit Incinerator)


You Can Get Used to Anything was performed by Eden Winter and the Motown hillbillies of the Don’t Look Now Jug Band, with another verse inspired by the Detroit Incinerator.  Here it is:

Way up north in old Motown,
The air has turned a funky brown,
Now the finished that monster with the big tall stack,
Everybody’s really gotta cough and hack,
Some say recycling’s the way to go,
They say Burn it! It’s cheaper don’t ya know,
And you can get used to anything.

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I remember singing the lyrics with a big brown van full of grade-schoolers hurtling around the metro Detroit area with the Huchingsons at the wheel sometime in the early 80’s.  I couldn’t believe there was only one website on the entire WWW that knew this song, and (with the greatest respect) that site looked ancient and in danger of disappearing.  So I have reproduced the lyrics in full.  Thanks to Mudcat and contributor harpgirl for keeping it alive!


Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

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