Behind the Music – When I’m 30

This was week 2 in the Songwriter’s Club and I’m loving it!  This week, the assignment was “When I’m 30”.  For this one, the music kind of came to me quickly.  In my first sitting of messing around, I was able to give a rough outline to the chorus and verse chord progressions and melody.

If you haven’t heard the song yet, watch it at the bottom of this post.

For the theme of the song, I originally was trying to go with the concept of:  If I could send a letter to a younger me – say, 10 years ago – to give myself advice about the next 10 years.  That’d be the 1st verse.  Then the 2nd verse would be getting a letter from myself from 10 years older giving me advice about the next 10 years.  That concept sort of held true but as you can see the verses told a little different story.

The chorus still took the same direction and went through many versions as I tried to get just the right words, the right rhythm and rhymes saying just the right thing I wanted to say.  This is one of the fun parts for me in songwriting.  If I hadn’t run out of time, I probably would have spent a little more time revising.  But there comes a time where you have to call it done and go with what you have.

The song speaks of the issues I’m currently dealing with in life.  It’s basically about the challenge one faces in life when choosing between pursing selfish ambition and pouring time and energy into those we love in life.

Hopefully the first verse is self-explanatory.  We’re encouraged by well-meaning adults to pursue our dreams.  But nobody tells us that the pursuit of one thing is often the sacrifice of another thing.  This is what the Chorus is all about.  Life is always about a choice.  In the case of this song, I’m talking about the choice between denying myself of my personal pursuits for the sake of pouring myself into my family.

I’m not trying to say there’s no way to strike a balance (or healthy tension) between the two.  The main thing I’m trying to say is, it’s up to you which way you choose to go and either way you go, you’ll have to make sacrifices.  The sacrifice may be your own plans or your family and friend relationships.

That’s a little insight to the creative process and thinking behind “When I’m 30”.  If you liked the song feel free to share it with your friends 🙂  (such as Twitter & Facebook) And if you are interested in hearing what other songwriters are doing with the songwriting challenges, check out and have a listen.



WHEN I’M 3o Lyrics and Chords (PDF)



WHEN I’M 30 | © 2010 Ben Chilcote

When I was younger
I was told to pursue my dreams
And when I grew up
I could be who I wanted to be
But as it turns out
It’s not quite as simple as we think

Like when I’m 30 it’s not gonna be just me
I’m gonna I wake up
With others who depend on me
And all the plans I had
Will be second to everything…

There’s a battle that we face every day of our life
To either die to ourselves or to fight to survive
Either way you go you gotta be willing to sacrifice

You choose what you take and you choose what you give
So don’t wait till it’s too late to decide how to live
Wounded hearts will maybe heal but time will never forgive

When I’m 40
If I’m still hangin’ on
Gonna wake up
and half of my life is gone
Don’t wanna look down
With nothing but trophies
In my hands

I wanna know that
I’m a hero in my children’s eyes
That I never gave up
Relentlessly pursuing my wife
That even God was proud
Of my hidden life
That’s right.


You have everything to gain
And everything to lose

When you find yourself ahead looking back down the road
You may find you made it far but that you made it alone
I don’t wanna be up there if I’m up there
On my own


I was 30…

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  1. As a 40 year old Christian songwriter/singer, who is married with two boys, I must say you nailed it. You also made me think about where I am myself.

    “I wanna know that
    I’m a hero in my children’s eyes
    That I never gave up
    Relentlessly pursuing my wife
    That even God was proud
    Of my hidden life”

    That’s good stuff there.

    Thank you.

    I just recently closed shop on my soundclick and reverbnation accounts, to re-evaluate some things, and kind of get a fresh start (quit smoking after half my life, and my voice has been changing, for the better, I hope), but maybe soon I can share some of my songs with you as well.

    Thanks again,

    1. Grant,

      Wow – great to hear you connected with my song. It was interesting because I had no control over the song title. But it hit me right were I am and in a way the song is self-referencial. The creation of the song IS, in a sense, what the song is about. Funny you closed your online accounts – I still have questions whether or not to continue pursing this blog and my YouTube channel, etc. But your comment definitely says something. I think as long as my family doesn’t take 2nd place – or even FEELS like they are 2nd place, then I may be able to manage both.

      That’s great that you quit smoking! Yeah, I’d love to hear some of your stuff. I’m just so pumped about the discovery I’ve made here: Free YouTube channel + free WordPress blog = share your music with the whole world. It just costs you time and energy.

      Thanks for the comments!


  2. “But your comment definitely says something. I think as long as my family doesn’t take 2nd place – or even FEELS like they are 2nd place, then I may be able to manage both.”


    Though you are spot on here, my post was in no means directed at the blog and YouTube. My reasons for suspending my stuff and removing my songs was due to the quality of them, and having been singing with the ‘smoker’s voice’. I needed a do over. 🙂

    I think what you have here is awesome. I actually started a blog here yesterday after seeing yours. Nothing on it yet, but it is started.

    Oh, and if you haven’t seen it, check out Daniel Choo’s blog. Been following that one for a couple years. Good stuff.

    Keep it up!

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