I know a lot about Rock n Roll, but my range in other music is limited. A new friend who is completely into Hip Hop and Rap has introduced me to such artists as Kanye West, Drake, Rihanna, Lil Wayne, and Nicki Minaj, Jay Z, and others whose names I’d heard but whose music was alien to me. Other than many of the lyrical choices, which I find demeaning to both men and women, I was surprised how creative and good much of the music really was!
Clearly, my intention is to expand this music topic to include all styles of music, because who doesn’t find music to be comforting? Rock n Roll, Classical, Country, Hip Hop, Pop, or Rap, you name your poison, but it works. As I’ve heard said by Dennis Prager, “Music is God’s drug,” though in Dennis’ case his favorite is classical, but he does appreciate some of the Great American Songbook. I admit to having an eclectic taste in music, which has expanded greatly by making the effort to listen to the music that interests my boys and younger friends such as mentioned in the first paragraph.
From a parenting point of view, being aware of the things that interest your kids will help you understand them. Ever since Elvis hit the scene over 50 years ago and, to a degree, when Frank Sinatra was the first pop star, music has meant independence for the younger generations.
I’ve found that hearing and listening to “new” music helps me get out of the rut of the music I grew up with. I was stunned recently, upon watching The Grammys, to discover how little I knew about contemporary music and how much I liked.
My music tastes began, as with most people, around the time I became a teenager and got my first transistor radio (see The Evolution of Technology column on this exact topic). I continued to pay attention to contemporary music up and through my college years and my first few years in the real world. I tend to think that most people have a 10-15 year window during which they pay close attention to music and music trends.
Upon marriage and a demanding work-life, I found my interest in browsing the new music at music stores – remember those – diminished. Perhaps this is not a ubiquitous event, but I tend to think it is.
My boys listened to what I’d label bubble gum pop when they first began listening to music and such songs as The Hamster Dance flooded the air in my car. Later, when my older son began playing guitar and truly getting consumed by music, I first exposed him to my favs by taking him to Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, and Neil Young concerts. When Green Day came out with their seminal album American Idiot, the roles reversed and I took both boys to see them.
We had floor SRO tickets and neither boy was tall enough to see anything but the screens on either side of the stage. The dancing and mild mosh-pit action made the whole thing a bit scary (for me). But, I took turns putting my boys on my shoulders so they could get a better view. And I played linebacker when a stoned out teen would get too close for comfort.
That began a tradition of going together to concerts of their choosing. Most of those outings resulted in my putting in earplugs and going to sleep. When we went to see Metallica, I still can’t believe that I fell asleep throughout that concert given the intense volume of their show. Later, when we saw them at the Outside Lands festival, I had to stand for their performance and thoroughly enjoyed it and the whole festival experience for those three days. I thoroughly enjoyed The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo-Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, and so many others that we saw together.
We went to the Outside Lands festival (it’s in San Francisco) again last year and, other than being the oldest of the 50,000 or so daily festivalgoers, I was by now as into it as my boys. I saw the boys here and there as we each chose those shows we wanted to see among the many that went on simultaneously. I have a lot of cool videos from that extremely fun Outside Lands festival but especially like my almost “official” one during Tom Morello’s show, when he asked for someone – and pointed to me – to take the video of an encores song so everyone else could sing-a-long and not worry about getting it on video. He promised me 1,000,000 views. We got quite a bunch, but not anywhere near that amount. But, the experience was priceless, without a doubt!
Rock n Roll is indeed here to stay as I suspect rap and hip-hop are as well. Country has morphed into more rock-like pop music but still retains its appeal and rabid fans. Pop music in the form of those that are most well known and hit the Grammys such as Adele, Beyonce, Justin Beiber, and Justin Timbelake will dominate the charts and sales, but the old rock acts will still rock stadiums as The Rolling Stones are currently doing. Bruce Springsteen still, in my opinion, puts on one of the best shows and sharing all this as a family is indeed a great way to stay close and simply have fun together.
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