Saturday, June 7, 2014

Me Time

     The positive side of a long driving commute is some me time to turn the radio up loud.  The soundtrack for the next couple of weeks is the latest Old 97's album "Most Messed Up."  It's really good ... Filled with songs about drinking, hooking up and living.  There's plenty of "fucks" scattered liberally throughout, so it's not safe to play at work.  Our kids seem to enjoy it, as well.  We don't censor music (any art, really) in our house.  There are songs that I don't go out of my way to play, and songs that I have to explain the context of the times for them ... And if something makes them uncomfortable in any way, I'll change it, and then we can talk about their reaction, why I may like it, etc.
     Music is so essential to my existence. I can comfortably say that it's kept me alive during difficult stretches.  I would never want to deny them that communion with sound.  I'm sure someone reading this right now is questioning my decision to be so open with music or books, and I respect your opinion.  I really do.  My philosophy is rock and roll doesn't make ill behaved or disrespectful children, bad parenting by shitty parents does.  Obviously, every child experiences some level of rebellion, but if you teach them early on that you're not willing to listen to why they like a certain kind of music or book or art - to understand and discuss it with them, to respect their opinion even if you disagree - then why would they think you'd be willing to listen to something else they think is important.  
     Music was a near constant in my household when I was growing up.  Mom loved everything ... popular radio, her records, our tapes.  The local Pizza Hut had a jukebox that you'd put quarters in and pick 4 songs.  We'd each get a quarter, and we absolutely stayed until we heard every song each one of us picked out.  She sang along to every one, which sometimes embarrassed my brother.  She used to threaten him that she'd dance on the table if he kept complaining.  We'd play her records on my Fisher Price record player in the living room with a quarter taped to the top of the needle arm.
     There's only one song I can't listen to anymore, and it's the last song she asked me to sing to her while she was dying - Don McLean's "American Pie." We were in a darkened hospital room, just the two of us.  The radio was lightly playing in the background.  That song came on, and she asked me to sing it to her.  And so I did.  Up until that exact moment in time, every song I'd ever sung was really for her ... for her to be proud of me.  Every choir show, every musical, every solo in church, every wedding I was asked to perform in - everything was for her.  
     I sing for the children and for myself now, but that one song, I'll never sing that song again.

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