Burning Down & Ages of You

in his dead letter office notes, peter buck says that “ages of you” is a rewrite of “burning down.” the songwriting chronology in it crawled from the south (marcus gray) supports this, showing that “burning down” was written in summer 1980, and “ages of you” was written in jan-march 1981.

buck also claims that both songs were recorded for reckoning, but available recording info and bootlegs show that the DLO version of “ages of you” originated during the murmur sessions.

i always thought it was odd and interesting, then, that after recording and then rejecting “ages of you” from both chronic town and murmur, the band seemingly went BACK to “burning down,” recording it for reckoning (while also remixing/finishing the murmur outtake version “ages of you”).

muddying the waters, in his best of the IRS years notes, buck contradicts his DLO notes, claiming that “ages of you” was written first, then scrapped and reworked into “burning down.” and the available setlist information on remtimeline.com sort of supports this, showing “ages of you” as debuting live first (jan 30, 1981). (this may just be due to lack of info on earlier setlists). by sept. 81, BOTH songs were in the setlist, simultaneously. “burning down” disappeared all of 1982, then reappeared in 1983 after being demoed with elliot mazer for reckoning.

in any case, curious what y’all think. did either song deserve a spot on a record? do you prefer one or the other? any thoughts on which was written first (i’m leaning “burning down”)?

personally, i think “ages of you” is a much stronger song. i’d have given it a place on side B of chronic town. too bad that version wasn’t given a proper release yet!


I love Ages of You and agree it should have made it to Chronic Town.

Burning Down sounds like the less polished version of it and I would think it was probably earlier. It’s sort of an Ages of You without the good parts.


I think Chronic Town is perfect as is, but it is interesting that they left Ages of You off their 1980s studio album releases, particularly when they seemed to be lacking new tracks for Lifes Rich Pageant.


The version of Burning Down and Ages of You on Dead Letter Office were Reckoning outtakes remixed by Steve Fjelstad.

I never found it odd that they would go back and re-record an outtake. Several times they would re-work older tracks and include them with each new album release.Then there were songs that would be over 10 years old and they’d rework them into fully finished tracks.

I dont know if the early version of Ages of You would fit in with the tracks on Chronic Town.I always liked the song because it was as catchy as all the others. The Murmur outtake sounded right at home with Murmur. I’d have maybe placed it after Laughing and before Talk About the Passion.

Burning Down I liked but I can see why it just didnt seem to align with being placed on an album.


I’m only intimately familiar with the Reckoning sessions versions of both songs as they were the ones on Dead Letter Office. Think I need to give the earlier versions of Ages of You a proper listen later.

In terms of the Reckoning out takes of each song, it’s hard to pick between them for me. Most go with Ages of You being superior but there something about Peter’s guitar chug under Michael’s melody in the bridge that elevates Burning Down somewhere special

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Ages of you is a favorite :two_hearts:


“Ages of You” is a favorite of mine. I like “Burning Down” but agree with the assessments of others that it’s not as solid as “Ages of You.” When I first heard “Ages of You” I couldn’t believe it was a b-side. Such a great song.


I love both songs, but especially Ages of You. Not sure either would’ve fitted on Chronic Town, or any of the first few albums. But I’m certainly glad that Dead Letter Office exists.

I rate Ages of You higher than some of the early stuff, but it maybe didn’t quite have the mystique of those albums. They had impeccable judgement with track listing and sequencing etc. Nothing about the first 5 years that I would change, but I do love a lot of the outtakes.

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Any musicians on here able to judge which bits of Burning Down were kept to write Ages of You? (I play guitar but I’m not really technically minded enough to pick these things out.)

Though regarding Chronic Town, the other part is that apparently it came down to a decision between Wolves, Lower vs Ages of You. But leaving off Wolves, Lower would have been bad also.

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I absolutely love Ages of You, but Chronic Town without Wolves would’ve been wrong!

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Totally agree - Wolves, Lower is an essential part of that ep and that era


Ages of You (and Burning Down) had already been released prior to Lifes RIch Pageant as a b-side to Wendell Gee so it wasn’t really in contention for Pageant, although I guess Wait! was . . . LOL!