Knocked back by ageism, she put her anger in a song, the first about age discrimination by employers

Got a favourite song about ageing? The pop culture universe is well stocked with beautiful songs about traversing the life course. I find it impossible to choose between Frank Sinatra’s iconic “It Was a Very Good Year”, Neil Young’s haunting “Old Man” and the catchy “7 Years” from Danish band Lukas Graham.

There’s a smattering of songs pushing back against ageism and generational differences – think “End of the Line” from the Traveling Wilburys and “Living Years” by Mike + the Mechanics.

But, until now, there has never been a song about age discrimination by employers and recruiters.

On this episode of The Big Middle, we meet Australian singer-songwriter Kelea. Her poignant ballad “Dear Sir/Madam” is surely a contender for theme song of the growing, global movement to expose ageism in all its demeaning forms and end it.

I reached Kelea, who is Kelly Gardner off-stage, at her country home near Perth.

Lyrics   Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your interest in our company

We received your life summarized in a one-page CV

We regret to inform you, you were unsuccessful

You were one of many, just not the best we’d hoped for

We couldn’t help but notice a few minor holes in your application

And your choice to stay at home lack of Y chromosome gives us hesitation

Not quite suited to our political agenda

But we wish you well in your future endeavours

And the lines beneath her eyes

Earned from mothering a child selflessly

Count for nothing when they’re blinded by an under-35 policy

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your 35 years with our company

We regret to inform you of your redundancy

Payment enclosed with some great referrals

You were one of many and it’s nothing personal

Yes the umpires pick their sides in a game of high school popularity

There’s a man with a briefcase on a bus and out of work age 53

So I’m sitting and I’m staring hesitating at a box marked date of birth

Please fill in this application so our algorithm works out what you’re worth

Yours sincerely

Dear Sir/Madam, Dear Sir/Madam


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