So an interesting conversation that I had with my son. One that I am sure parents have been having with their kids since the dawn of music. Why music matters so much. For my son, like most kids – or hell I am sure like a lot of people – music is just something you listen to. It’s got a beat and you can dance to it. My sons taste of music, much like mine, varies wildly. He loves Watch Me by Silentó and equally loves We Built this City by Starship. He can’t, however, get into any kind of folk, jazz or blues music. When it comes on he loses his mind completely. Even with out lyrics! I played Whammer Jammer by J. Geils Band and you would think I was preforming water torture on him. Forget listening to any kind of folk music like Old Crow Medicine Show. I tried (in vain) to explain to him the meaning behind the music, the appreciation of the lyrics, the artist, the musicians. I tried explaining that the same song can be sung in a variety of genres, that basically music was just poetry being put to instruments. I then tried explaining that someday he would hear a song and he would get it. It would hit him just how powerful music can be. (at this point I think I lost him…)
Still I continued to explain to him the magic of music. I started thinking to myself that it can take you back to a sweet summer night with your first love, it can bring to tears over a lost friend, it can make you smile because of some silly adventure you had when you were all young and free. It got me thinking of my musical choices and what songs have stood out to me over the years.
The first song I really ‘got’ was probably something by Nirvana Heart Shaped Box or All Apologies …”I wish I was like you Easily amused” After that it was a lot of depressing alternative rock. A lot. Were talking Jeremy by Pearl Jam – “Lemon yellow sun Arms raised in a V And the dead lay in pools of maroon below” Told you – depressing. Adams’s Song by Blink 182 or Smashing Pumpkins, – “Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage” those were my jams I laugh now thinking of all that pent up, misplaced teen-aged rage.
As I went through high school other music came to me, some new like Sublime – “It all comes back to you, you’ll finally get what you deserve” Some older like Grateful Dead-” Every silver lining’s got a Touch of grey” (thank you Lucas) Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction, Buffalo Springfield’s For what it’s worth. I didn’t start getting into folk music until recently. Though, I always found it pleasant to listen to. The Blues came from an ex who took me to a blues bar and I just fell in love with the cords. Jazz came from my days as a waitress. And each song can probably bring me back to when I first heard it, or a memory I associate with it. That is the power of music, of great song writing.
I know some day my son will get this, and I am happy that for now he does appreciate a variety of music. I leave you with a few of my favorite lines (well that ones that come to me while writing this) and ask…what songs shaped you?
“Why am I soft in the middle The rest of my life is so hard” – Paul Simon – You can Call Me Al
“Tear down the house that I grew up in, I’ll never be the same again” The Avett Brothers – Tear down the house
“It’s what you do and not what you say” John Mellencamp – Peaceful World
“Every little thing, is going to be alright” – Bob Marley – Three Little Birds
“If I could tell the world just one thing, It would be that we’re all ok” – Jewel – Hands
“Oh, take your time, don’t live too fast” Lynyrd Skynyrd – Simple Man
“There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone” – Grateful Dead – Ripple