NPR launched an interesting project recently. They've asked people to contact them and share stories about what their listeners found in their parents' record collection. The music we hear in those formative years shapes us in so many ways. Even if we grow to hate some of the music we heard, our memories are still tied to those songs. So, I started thinking about my parents and what they listened to, and how their musical tastes have affected my own.
I should start by saying that I come from a family of music lovers. I should also state that none of us can sing. Well, maybe I shouldn't paint the fam with such a broad stroke. My daughter seems to have a pretty decent singing voice. She's lucky she wasn't subjected to our DNA. I think my eldest niece is the only one who can read music - she plays the cello. In any case, we are not a musical people but we do love music, if that makes any sense.
My parents split up when I was around 8. I don't think of my father as being a big fan of music, but I recall that he liked the Beatles. He drove me to the airport a couple months ago when I was visiting, and I think he mostly listens to "oldies" from the 50s and 60s now.
My mother was more interested in music than my father was. I remember her listening to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Beach Boys, and Rod Stewart when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, when my sisters and I bought her an iPod for Christmas a couple years ago, my youngest sister said, "Watch, Mom will probably download 'Hot Legs' right away." I called my mom and tattled on my sister, telling her what the baby of the family had said about her.
"Oh, ha ha. You girls are soooo funny!" our mother said, as she was, no doubt, clicking the "buy" button next to "Hot Legs" on iTunes.
My mom remarried when I was 11. My stad was into lots of different musicians and I think he and my mom had a lot in common, musically speaking. I remember hearing a lot of Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band coming out of the stereo downstairs. Today, I have songs from both bands on my iPod. I cannot hear the song "Shattered" without thinking about my parents. Shadoobie!
They listened to some weirder stuff, too. The album "Gravest Hits" by The Cramps comes immediately to mind. We used to dance around to "Human Fly." I have that on my iPod, too. I'm trying to think of some of the other offbeat stuff. NRBQ would be another one. Frank Zappa.
Most kids eventually reject everything their parents like, but I don't think I ever really did that. For starters, my parents aren't that much older than I am. My mom is 18 years older and my stad is 13 years older. I remember going to a Fine Young Cannibals concert with them when I was in high school. I did start developing my own musical tastes (different from theirs), of course. The first album I ever bought was "Glass Houses" by Billy Joel when I was ten (I later had a chance to meet him, too, thanks to my stad). Like most teenaged girls growing up in the 80s, I adored Duran Duran. My mom pointed out that their lyrics made no sense and of course I rolled my eyes because, you know, their lyrics were VERY deep. It took me a few years to realize she was right. Look up the lyrics to "New Moon on Monday" sometime. Eventually I mostly rejected Top 40 radio and branched out into stuff that was a little darker. I loved The Smiths (still do!), Echo and the Bunnymen, and New Order. I fell hard for The Pixies and still listen to their music all the time. Oh, and Erasure. I could go on all day!
Although I believe I have stellar taste in music (or at least that is what I tell everyone), I have to be honest and say that I'm not sure that a lot of "my" music really stands the test of time. My parents probably fare better in that department. The Rolling Stones are still around (for better or worse) but a lot of the bands I loved in my youth are long gone, more like a footnote now. Well, there are places where they live on, I suppose. Check out Slicing Up Eyeballs. Oh, and if you know what song the lyric "slicing up eyeballs" is from - you might just be my best friend.
I wonder what my daughter will think of my music collection ten years from now. Right now, she likes a lot of the music I play when we are driving around. She asked me to re-play a Gossip song the other day and I almost shed a tear. I took her to a Bluegrass concert last year. I'm hoping to expose her to lots of types of music. Otherwise, her brain will be filled with nothing but Justin Bieber and One Direction. She heard a remake of "Material Girl" on one of the shows she watches and was singing it around the house. I told her, "Oh, Madonna did that song first. I'll dig up the video on YouTube and show it to you." Well, she was just astounded. She's still not fully convinced that the world existed prior to May 3, 3005. I had a little flashback to my mom telling me that "Hazy Shade of Winter" by the Bangles was a remake of a Simon and Garfunkel song. And I'm sure I rolled my eyes because, you know, she couldn't possibly know what she was talking about.
So, what did you learn from your parents' record collection?
And now, in honor of my parental units, Human Fly by The Cramps: