Editor’s note: This column was originally published in March 2011.
Remember when you were old enough to start forming your own opinions about what good music is? Remember when part of the definition was “anything Mom and Dad can’t stand”?
And then remember that time you were flipping through your parents’ record collection, only to discover some gem of an album in amongst the easy listening, elevator music noise pollution?
That moment came for me during one of our various family cleaning days. In between the complete John Denver collection and a dusty Joan Baez record and under a stack of 8-tracks was the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.” Guys with long hair on the album jacket — this couldn’t possibly have been something my parents liked. It must have been cool.
Times have changed, and so has the technology for listening to music, but kids are still curious, and there must still be something in Mom and Dad’s collection that’s cool.
My son Billy has started scrolling through our iTunes library on his own, and has definitely developed his own musical taste. His new favorite artist is Ozzy Osbourne (you’re supposed to expose your kids to the classics, right?), and I’ve overheard him having deep discussions with my daughter, Grace, about the differences between Ozzy’s sound in the 1980s versus the 90s and now. Topping his play list right now is “Crazy Train,” followed by “Shot in the Dark.”
He’s also taken a liking to Green Day, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, and the theme from the 1980s TV show, “The A-Team.” Apparently, it rocks, too. Cool.
But there’s a dark side to letting your kids explore their musical interests: they might discover disco.
Somewhere buried in the library are some songs by ABBA, and Grace just loves them. They’ve now replaced Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift on our “most frequently played” list, and at the rate we’re going, it will be years before another song will even catch up. We hear ABBA at breakfast, dinner, when we’re trying to watch TV — just about any time is ABBA time.
Now, I didn’t particularly care for ABBA back in the 1970s and 80s (Mom and Dad liked ABBA — yuck!). My generation, scarred from polyester bell-bottom pants, was content to let disco die.
ABBA didn’t sound any better to me when their songs started popping up on dance party mixes during my college days (though cute girls dancing can make a lot of things at least tolerable), and I have yet to be able to sit through an entire showing of the film version of “Mamma Mia!”
And while there’s a few ABBA songs in the iTunes library at home, I have steadfastly refused to put any on my iPod. There’s lots of Ozzy and Green Day, and when Grace complains that it’s not fair that I have music Billy likes but none that she likes, all I can do is tell her that sometimes, life’s not fair. Listening to your parents say something like that might be the only thing worse than having to listen to their music. Poor kid.
But we’ve got a new situation brewing. I probably never should have mentioned to the kids that I don’t like disco. I walked in the other day to hear “Stayin’ Alive” blasting on the stereo — the original version by the Bee Gees, and not the funky cover by Ozzy.
Billy was standing there by the laptop with a big grin on his face.
“Isn’t this song cool?” he said.
Oh no, Billy, say it ain’t so.
An update: Billy is certain that AC/DC is the greatest rock band ever, and is thrilled that the new classic rock radio station plays something by them at least once an hour. Meanwhile, Grace has figured out how to sabotage my playlists, and has planted some ABBA songs that always pop up when I’m at the hardest part of my workout — not inspiring at all. And Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is now, to my ear, the most annoying song on the planet. Both kids love it.
Will Morrow is the editor at the Peninsula Clarion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.