Sunday, December 06, 2009


my daughter is walking around singing "ring of fire".

for the record, she's no johnny cash.

why she's singing "ring of fire" is anyone's guess. where she learned it is hard to imagine. it's not like we have old-school country stations teed up in the car. or on the itunes.

johnny cash was big at my parents' house back in the day. they had the albums (along with selections from frankie laine and glen campbell and, inexplicably, jim nabors) and the hi-fi console stereo to play them. so when i walked around singing those songs, one could at least see why. sort of.

* * * * *

the boy, meanwhile, has developed a taste for black sabbath and ac/dc. this is at least partly due to "rock band" on the wii at the neighbors' house. yesterday, driving to christmas festivities on bainbridge island, "highway to hell" came on the radio. the boy asked us to turn it up, and he sang along. he knew all the words.

i just shook my head and blinked, uncomprehendingly.

* * * * *

when did these children turn into real people with musical tastes (not to mention these particular tastes)? i mean, it wasn't that long ago they were singing "rubber duckie" and "C is for cookie" and "baby beluga". how do i reconcile the gap between elmo and ozzy osbourne when i'm just now having a post-headbanger phase of my own?

to recap, my daughter is serenading us with songs i sang when i was her age. my son and i are enjoying the same retro music, at the same time. we're all coming at this from directions and perspectives and generations that could not be more different and still be of the same species on the same planet. my head vibrates alarmingly at the mere thought, and i would not be at all surprised if it spontaneously combusted. poom. like a big ol' safety match.

* * * * *

does it sound like i'm vexed by this karmic confluence of musical musical chairs? i'm not. i'm merely befuddled. and consternation is standard operating procedure for a brow-furrowed parent still in his or her own evolving mode. processing this multiplicity of variables may require more brain cell coordination and metaphysical consciousness than i can muster. so i frown a lot, and people think i'm vexed. it's an easy mistake to make.

* * * * *

if, as some philosopher said, music is the universal language, then maybe it'll facilitate some intergenerational amity in the spaceneedl house. maybe this harmonic cross-current will bond us in a more meaningful way than the time-honored command to "turn that noise down!" it's hard to complain, after all, if i'm the one asking them to turn it up.

it's good not to be too predictable. to defy convention and not be bound to the norm, whatever that might be. especially in this country. in this case, at least, we have that going for us.

as long as the children don't tell me to turn down my music, we'll get along just fine.


Bon said...

never, i repaeat never, question "the man in black."

your girl's got good taste and you should be glad for that.

your boy on the other hand...

spaceneedl said...

"how high's the water, mama?"

i'm okay with the man in black, it's the out-of-nowhere, non sequitur-ness that threw me off a bit.

the boy and i agree on very little, so i'll take what i can get, there.

Fish and Bicycles said...

I've been going through some of the same experiences, mr. needl, and I'm wondering what you do about the less than wholesome quality of some of the music.

I thought it was AWESOME when my son started listening to The Who's "Quadrophenia" and The Clash's "London Calling", two albums that I consider masterpieces. But then I remembered lines in the songs "Dr. Jimmy" and "Death or Glory" respectively and suddenly it didn't seem so awesome.

My son tells me that he doesn't even hear the lyrics and doesn't know the words, but how long will that last and is he really telling the truth?

spaceneedl said...

what do we do? we resign ourselves to the reality that such things are out of our control.

is he telling the truth? i'd bet he's telling you what he thinks you want to hear.