Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rock and Roll will Never Die, but May Get Hopelessly Lost

I am a child of the '90's. Have I made that clear with my rantings about grunge music and weird pop culture that no one cares about? Is it obvious from my collection of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs or my oft expounded upon theory that Dazed and Confused is my generation's Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Is it clear from the fact that I use wicked as an intensifying adjective in normal conversation? No, well. I am.

My daughter, my precious (soon to be five year old) daughter hated music until very recently. She hated music, it turns out, not because she was a sociopath as I feared, but because she was partially deaf. We've taken care of the deafness and now an appreciation for music has begun to blossom. But, because most children develop a love for music at a much, much younger age, it's a hard road to travel with Brynna.

She, like me, isn't drawn to a particular genre of music, but to lyrics. While I long for the poetic, the piercing, the arcane, the strange and the able-to-encapsulate-my-being-with-a-catchy-hook, Brynna likes the funny mostly. But she sometimes enjoys something that she feels is somehow about her. Which is really the same thing as my able-to-encapsulate-my-being-with-a-catchy-hook.

In the car, I try to keep things I know she will enjoy listening to. Along with the Jim Gill* and Ralph's World, I have Counting Crows (my favorite) for the song "American Girls." While AG has some... well... questionable lyrics ("coming to bed so edible", for one) Brynna is American and a girl, so she feels a kinship to this song. Also, I think she thinks it's about the dolls. She also loves "Einstein on the Beach" which is in my CCTop 10, too. I told her all about Einstein, and other than freaking the summer babysitter out with her discussion of Hiroshima and Einstein's feelings about it, she took to it really well. She has an Einstein bobblehead from a fast food restaurant and while so do about ten million other kids, they probably don't hold him and try to comfort him and promise him that splitting the atom will one day bring peace and prosperity to a world gone mad. (In not so many words.)

This weekend, she wore some black boots that are new to her. She really liked them and I had to threaten her life to keep her from wearing them with shorts on Monday to school. These boots are super-cute, but have really thick soles. Brynna has no trouble getting around in them, but they sound heavy when she walks. And my daughter, in her church skirt and big black boots, reminded me so much of "Santa Monica" by Everclear, that I just couldn't stand it. Once, she reminded me of A Clockwork Orange because of a hat she wore, this was similar, but less disturbing.**

So, I thought I would introduce her to Everclear. (In the wake of current celebrity nonsense, I feel it necessary to point out that I mean the band, not the liquor.) At any point in my life, asking me who my favorite band was could be a waste of time. For one thing, I have never had one or even two or three, favorite bands. I have a top 10, maybe even a top 5, but not a favorite. For another thing, even if I did, even if for one moment I was in LOVE with The Offspring, then tomorrow I would feel the same passion for Weezer. But, I digress. Point being that Everclear was always in the top whatever.

I loved them. Art Alexakis was an obsession of mine. Despite the fact that he is only three years younger than my mother, I was in love. I have all of their albums (up to about 2003 or so) and I listened to them reguarly. When I was down, I would sometimes pack my five disc changer with them and listen to about 4 straight hours of Everclear. And although my favorite songs almost all come from So Much for the Afterglow, it's the heavy guitar and the whining "With my big black boots and an old suitcase..." that made me fall in love with them in the first place. (Of course, with Brynna in the car, I'd have to skip over gems like "Heroin Girl," and "You Make Me Feel Like a Whore." But, you know, Alanis Morrisette is one of her favorites, so I've made friends with the skip buttons.

Except I've looked for three days and I can't find Sparkle and Fade. I've torn up my house. I see it in my mind's eye and I can't see it with my actual eyes because it is gone. Perhaps stolen. Who would steal a single CD from my collection, you ask. Well, one of these freakin' kids who have to listen to JLo on the radio all day long, that's who! It's been probably years since I had it out, but I should be able to go right to it and it's not there. Not in my car, not in my desk at work, not in my living room or my bedroom or the box in my basement. Nowhere.

This morning, though, we listened to So Much for the Afterglow anyway. There's less skipping involved with this album anyway. And, I have to say, athough I cried a little because the title song has a skip in it, I mostly rejoiced all the way to work today. Because I had rediscovered something that makes me extremely happy. Brynna sang "Down by the Bay" over the music, so I don't think she appreciated it much. But I did. Oh, how I remember. I remember the pain and torment and the victory and the joy. The raw emotion, the laying bare of souls, the listening and living and trying and failing. "This is a song about Susan," starts one song that for better or worse at one point described my relationship with a girl named Susan. "You gave me a name. And then walked away," describes Alexakis's relationship with his father and mine with mine. I felt all this. I lived all this. I soundtracked my life by all this.

And this morning, in the wake of some drama I'm not going to talk about, I listened to Art scream "They can't hurt you unless you let them," and I remembered that feeling. That feeling of knowing someone knows what you mean. Someone who can play guitar, who can get loud and scream about it, who knows all the chords and whose fingers don't bleed anymore. Someone who can be pithy and 3-minute-wise about it because they came out on the other side. And, although looking back on my obsession with a man the same age as my uncle, I find it a bit creepy, it helps that he is older. That he fought the fight and then became a rock star.

So, that's my words of wisdom for today. Pull out the music that spoke to you when you were at that age that required being spoken to. Crank it up and sing along. Feel the power racing through your veins and remember, they can't hurt you unless you let them.

*Parents, if you don't have a Jim Gill CD, look for one, or check one out of the library. Kid's music yes, but not annoying and funny enough to make you laugh, too.

** I've had my milksies and I'm ready for some ultra-violence.


Caroline said...

I agree. Nate has never and (hopefully) will never have cheesey music playing for him in my car. He listens to what I listen to. And, up until he was about 9 mos, I didn't even mind the cussing and drug references. I'm hoping this builds a strong foundation so that a Jonas Brothers CD NEVER enters my house!

Strangeite said...

The Beyond Raffi CD is very good. Especially the songs by Trout Fishing in America.

One day I will memorize all the words to "What I want is a perfect cup of coffee"

AnnaMarie said...

To Roy's comment I will say that "Beyond Raffi" is a creation of my friend Patrick's, so I don't think you'll be able to find it in any stores. But "Trout Fishing in America" IS a fantastic band.

Jessi said...

Roy - is that the one that ends with a glass of wine? I like Trout Fishing in America, but Brynna hates them. C'est la vie.

Caroline - I don't even mind the Jonas Brothers. They are less annoying than Tiffany ever was and I turned out fine. I just want her to listen to stuff that doesn't involve choruses of children, mostly. Also, I want her to like music. If she wanted to listen to gangsta rap at this point I think I would be excited she wanted to listen to something.

Mom said...

When my son was in first grade, his music teacher was very concerned that he didn't know the words to any songs. He knows songs, what do you mean?, I innocently asked. She responded simple songs like "Zippity Do Da". Well, no, but he knows all the words to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", "Bubba Shot the Jukebox" and "Cover of the Rolling Stone". She was speechless....

Amy said...

My 5 yr old girl loves Loretta Lynn's Fist City which she calls the trash song from the line "When my man picks up trash he puts it in a garbage can" and Dolly Parton's Jolene. She loves singing along. I think any music that a child enjoys is good music. I had a "young" mom and my favorite songs as a child were Magic Man and Boogey Fever. My much younger sister's was Red Red Wine and We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off (to have a good time) As an adult certain songs remind me of certain times and places. I also hope to influence my daughter enough that when the next worthless Pop Diva crap becomes popular she'll know that it stinks and be the first one in her school to know who Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and many many more are.