Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Deep Cuts

I love listening to music with my kids. It reminds me of being a kid, of listening to all the music in my household crammed with people. The country music of my parents, hard rock of my brother, Top 40 filling the gaps.

As a preschooler, I sang along. Think "Kiss an Angel Good Morning" and "Delta Dawn" sung by a precocious, tow-headed four year old. That classic country has remained a part of my backbone, but I quickly branched out to favor rock. I remember when I was in Kindergarten, my next door neighbor Shawn went to see KISS with his parents. He claimed to have been spit on by Gene Simmons, though I have to question the validity of that claim. I never saw KISS (not until 20 years later, anyway), but at a tender age, my best parlor trick was being able to discern between the music of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest when my brother played the songs.

There was always a record player, a transistor radio, 8-track tapes lying around to explore. Music was a big part of life. I remember lip-synching before it was a thing at my best friend's birthday party—we put on an entire routine to KISS' "I Was Made for Loving You" and if I may say, it was spectacular. We spent hours singing along to music of all genres. My sister and I would act out "Paradise by the Dashboard Light," though the lyrical content was somewhat lost on me back then. I remember walking home from school shortly after my parents got a new, state-of-the-art Sansui stereo to replace their old vacuum tube stereo and hearing the very specific synthesizer opening of Loverboy's "Take Me To the Top" a half a block away from my house. That song is still, apologetically, in my top 10.



The 70s were a magical time for radio in Milwaukee. We had an album rock station, WLPX. Though only on air from 1978-1983, if you walk around the city you can probably still find someone rocking an LPX t-shirt or bumper sticker.


We had more classic rock (though I guess back then it was just called rock?) radio stations than any other genre I can recall, and we were flooded with music. Music runs deep in me. All of my best memories involve some kind of music. And I love when my kids get into music, too.

Lately, they've been singing along from the back seat when we drive around town or go on roadtrips. Being that they don't have 6 older siblings to fill them in on all the important parts of music that scare parents, I feel it's my duty and obligation to do this.

Lucky for me, I still like music that scares parents.

They listen to music from all years and genres and I can't help but wonder if they listen to the 80s rock that fueled my teen years and hear it with that distance that I heard when I listened to 1960s era rock. They don't seem to mind, if so.

Yep. I still have them.
And because I remember how important it is to have their own music (my first musical purchases, bought with my own money? Rick Springfield. Though I know it broke my brother's heavy metal heart.) occasionally, I'll give in to their demands and let them listen to "their" music—which includes a lot of Maroon 5 and Imagine Dragons. A few novelty songs, but those are harder to listen to with small ears, as they are pretty much, without exception, about sex. I mean, pretty much all the songs are about sex (or drugs, especially if you're talking classic rock), and I was singing along to "... I can see Paradise by the dashboard light..." when I was their age, but that doesn't mean I'm comfortable with it. Imagine Dragons I'm okay with. And every now and then I'll surprise them with a newer song of my own, which always surprises them. "You like this song, Mom? It's not even old!"

So, Saturday night as we were continuing the Summer of Catan tournament (wherein we see who can win the most games over the course of the summer and will retain bragging rights as the almighty Emperor of Catan) and listening to the classic rock internet radio. Tony and I reminisced about the songs and hearing them long ago and whether or not we liked them and who they reminded us of. We all sang and played and turned it up and laughed a lot.

Who shall be victorious? Can we unseat the current titleholder? Time will tell.

I knew all the songs—this station was playing the soundtrack of my life. My kids have asked before if I just know all the music, but in my car, I keep my iPod plugged in, so I guess I do know all the songs. They remarked that even on the radio I seem to know all the words.

Until I didn't.

Blue Oyster Cult came up, and the 13 year old was like "ooh, I love Blue Oyster Cult" because he knows "Don't Fear the Reaper" (more cowbell!) and "Godzilla." I remembered back to when my brother snuck out of the house to see them in concert (back in the olden days, when that was still something you could do because concerts were like $20). But when the song started, I had never heard it before.

And being as how this was a relatively rare event in my children's life, they recorded it for posterity.

As one does.

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