Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Full Circle

I don’t recall actively pushing music on my children, but they will tell you there was always music around; for the most part it was Classic Rock.  For me it was just music I’d gotten stuck on between the ages of 18 and 25.  If I was at home and the TV wasn’t on, I had the stereo playing.  I rigged up speakers in the basement workshop so I could have music down there.  Before the days of Walkmen and iPods I even rigged an old transistor radio with a headphone jack so I could listen to music while I mowed the lawn.

In the car it was 96 Rock most of the time.  They played the artists I liked, but not just their hits. They also played deep cuts from older albums and new releases. I’d sometimes switch over to Fox 97, the “oldies” station that played 60s and 70s Top Forty and sing along, certainly mortifying my daughter when she had friends in the car.

As Scott got be a teenager (I think of this as his ‘In Living Color’ phase), he would actively campaign for me to change the station.  He was into hair bands and rap, which were popular and cool, and undoubtedly heard what I was listening to as old fogies music. (Like I was listening to Mel Torme or something!) 

I remember telling him that The Beatles, Clapton, Billy Joel etc. were classics that would stand the test of time and one day he would appreciate them.  I also told him there would come a day when he’d sell or give away his rap CDs and that in 10 years (this was probably about 1990) nobody would be listening to that “stuff”-I refused to call it music. HHe reminded me recently that I was only half right, the genre has endured and is bigger today than it ever was.

Someplace in here I guess it clicked.  In his last year or so of high school I’d occasionally notice that a cassette or two missing from my rack.  Maybe Springsteen or the Who.  When the Drama Department had its annual Talent Night he played a smoking version of “Pinball Wizard” on the guitar.  He was listening to Green Day, Nirvana and Pearl Jam (at least it was rock n roll..), but it appeared Dad’s music had some merit, too.

Things really changed when Scott went away to college and was exposed to the musical melting pot that is Athens, Georgia.  His musical horizons were stretched way beyond anything I could imagine.  All of a sudden he was hearing more new music in a week than I heard in a year. Not at all unlike my experience when I went off to college in Boston 25 years before.  He was excited and enthusiastic about it. 

There is a saying that goes something like this: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.  I guess at forty-five the student was ready, because the teacher appeared, in the form of my son.  He started (as we used to say) “turning me on” to groups like The Jayhawks, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and Wilco.  Wow, there had been some really great music made since 1980.  Rock and Roll didn’t die with disco! Not only that, he quickly drew the parallels and his appreciation for the music I love exploded. This give and take has of course continued. I started a list of all the bands Scott brought to my attention and found that maybe 75% of what he recommends I really like.  That’s a pretty good batting average; I’m not sure I do as well with him. He still doesn’t get the Doors or Steely Dan, and loathes most of the Eagles catalog. 

To use a Classic Rock analogy; Blood, Sweat and Tears first album was titled “The Child is Father to the Man”.  That’s how it turned out musically in our family, and I’m really glad it did.


  1. You can sing as loud as you want in the car Pomp! I no longer get embarrassed by you!

  2. Blogger The Fabled Automatic said...

    Specifically, he said "Rap is a fad, there is no way this will be around in 10 years" About the only thing in my entire life I can think of that Dad has been explicitly wrong about. Excepting all of the Braves' world series wins, of course.

  3. I swear just the other day I heard "Pinball Wizard" and thought of the time I saw that in the old high school theater with Scott (and others).

    Loved Fox 97. Z93 was my favorite for the longest time. But the saddest day for Atlanta radio, as far as I am concerned, was when 96 Rock went off the air.

  4. It was Mitch Stripling and Patrick Snow. They did the singing and came up with a pretty good routine to go along with it.