Thursday, October 4, 2012


"Lord, Let me die with my boots on!"
Many of my childhood memories revolve around music. My dad’s record and tape collection for starters. He was secretly pleased to have picked a winner when he bought the Hootie and the Blowfish cassette long before it saw radio play. He listened to all of the rock basics, and really anything obscure that he could get his hands on. One of his favorites is still a guilty pleasure of mine: The Unforgiven. It is this cheesy sounding album with an Amazing Grace guitar solo that my dad has made me promise is played at his funeral. I heard everything under the sun as a child (except country): he liked Bone Thugs and Harmony,Elvis, Led Zepplin, Annie Lennox… my father’s musical tastes were (and still are) vast and ever changing. Every dog I have known him to own showcases his love of music: Tesla, Axl, Elvis… My mom had her favorites too. She was a huge Van Hagar fan, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Metallica. Her tastes have also changed over time. My parents and I do not always agree musically, (Dad, I just do not get Nikka Costa. Mom… I can understand Incubus to a point, but Dave Mathews Band is unacceptable.) but one thing is certain: my parent’s love of music inspired my own.

At times my musical time line is a bit embarrassing. I remember the first batch of CDs I ever owned, and there are a few I wish I could take back. My official story: my first CD was The Verve Pipe. The actual story: The day before I had received The Smashing Pumpkin’s Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, (shudder) which I immediately exchanged for Bush’s Sixteen Stone.  The Verve Pipe sounded cooler than other CD I had requested… The Spice Girls. I know, I know, but I got better I promise! In high school, I fell in love with the sounds of Everclear, Sublime, Eve 6, Ben Folds Five, Third Eye Blind, and Something Corporate. In college, I moved on to The Early November, Taking Back Sunday, The Format, Limbeck, and a little Rilo Kiley. I still have a weakness for most of these bands because they are the soundtrack to my life! My playlist is ever changing. The new bands may have slowed entry and the old bands may have broken up (and in some cases, already gotten back together), but music is still as important in my life as it ever was.

From the moment we knew we were pregnant with our son, I began researching the least annoying CDs for kids. We stumbled onto The Terrible Twos and snapped them up. We don’t listen to the radio often, and Radio Disney might kill me.  They are some of my son’s favorite songs, but that is not all I listen to around him.

One of the most amazing things for me was that first time I heard my son belt out a song from the back seat. It will embarrass him to no end one day to know that it was Adele “Rolling in the Deep”, but I laughed and smiled with pride. By far, his favorite song to sing is “Some Nights” by fun. The moment I heard the operatic words “Soooooome Niiiiiiiiiiiiiights” bellow from the back seat, I am not too proud to admit there was a tear in my eye. Maybe I won’t have to put up with crappy music blasting from behind closed doors when he is a teen. 

Now, before I venture into a tangent on how a band or artist really must be good live to be considered talented at all, let me get to my point. My parents love music. My husband and I love music. My children love music. If you are familiar with the artists I have mentioned, you probably know that not all of the songs are, shall we say, “clean”.  My parents did not censor the music that they listened to and while I do not remember asking them questions about what the songs were saying, my parents would have been willing to explain. I do recall being asked why I wanted certain CDs that had a Parental Advisory logo (Sublime comes to mind) but unlike a few of my friends, I was allowed to pick my music and listen to the music of my choosing. In our home, music was just music. It was an expression for whatever mood you were feeling or wanted to feel. Every song tells a story.  In saying this, I should point out that there is a true difference between strong language and adult content in song lyrics versus the degradation of humans. (Misty, care to jump in on this point?)

I am aware of the responsibility that comes with this point of view, and I gladly will own it. Music is art. Just as I will not shield my kids from art museums due to the naked human forms or controversial pieces they may see, music and film will also be subjects of conversation.  TV, film, the written word and art are subjects for an entirely different post, but all of these things have two things in common: artistic expression and the right to age appropriate discussions instead of censorship.  I would rather save my veto power for things that I find asinine, like Nickleback, Hinder, Lady Gaga, Sponge Bob and South Park.

Some of you may feel differently, and you certainly are entitled to that. This is one area where I really feel my parents were dead on. I believe appreciating the various forms of artistic expression is important mostly for the following reasons:

1.       An appreciation for art leads you to begin to form your own individual opinions: your likes and dislikes. This skill can be translated to many other areas of life.

2.       Art lends you the opportunity to walk in the artist’s shoes for a little while. Their pain, angst, joy, disgust or triumph.

3.       Art allows you to begin to appreciate the things that others have to offer this world. We all have our own talents and stories. We are all unique and have different strengths. While we cannot all agree on everything, artists share their experiences in amazing ways: sometimes you find common ground, sometimes not.

4.       Art inspires.

 This perspective sets the stage for my next post, The Ten Movies I Need Next Time I Am on an Island Alone.


  1. Amen. I was listening to Green Day's new album (I know, but when you listen to a band from the age of 14 on, you get kind of sucked into a completionist thing. I will own every album they make till they break up. Period.) and realized there is a HUGE over-use of the F word on this album. My husband remarked something about not listening to that kind of music when we have kids. I will admit I whined and may have had a teenage rebellion type meltdown. I was never censored as a kid. The only band I listened to that my mom didn't like was Sublime. When I asked her why, she said she felt they were disrespectful to women. And you know what? They are. And I don't listen to them any more, either. In any event, I like your list of bands. Can we agree the Format is way better than Fun.? I like to sing along with Nate Ruess, though, and man do they have some catchy songs!

    1. Um yes we can agree on that, for sure! Though I will probably follow Nate's career because he has a heck of a voice. I end up having to own every album as well. I think I was into Sublime mostly for a boy, but there was something really sad about him that appealed to me. Morbid, right?

  2. He really does have a great voice and his lyrics are just... to die for. I love them. He has a knack for the overall flow of a song.

    I completely get what you mean about him seeming sad. Turns out, he was!

  3. I just feel sorry for anyone that doesn't have a soundtrack for their life. There are songs I hear that can evoke a scent, or an event, or just raw emotion. (case in point, Billy Joel "just the way you are" can bring me to my knees with tears. I can't really explain it except to say it brings me to a time when I can ask could I have been anyone other than me?)
    Music is life. I am not good at expressing myself, but there is always a song to help me out. I feel good that I have passed that to my children, and now my grandchildren are reaping the same benefit.


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