Rock and the modern parent |

Rock and the modern parent

Alex Miller

The tape came from the bargain bin somewhere and the faded title read “Great Train Songs.” It was one of a number of highly objectionable tapes my father kept handy for road trips. There was a fair amount of Neil Diamond, which was bearable, but in addition to the train songs, there was also, believe it or not, a Tiny Tim sampler and the soundtrack from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”It was a seven-hour drive from where I grew up on Long Island to where we liked to ski in northern Vermont, so I got to know those tapes pretty well. It never, ever once crossed my dad’s mind to let us put in any of our own music, and it never occurred to us to ask. So when my two middle schoolers argue over which Green Day or Weezer album we should pop into the CD player in my car, I tell them they don’t know how lucky they have it. “My dad made me listen to ‘Great Train Songs'” I’ll tell them, as if describing the privations of the Depression. They, on the other hand, have the benefit of having a dad who was weaned on Led Zeppelin, The Doors and the Dead. Nothing is sadder, I think, than growing older listening to the same old stuff, so I keep my ear open for new bands that I like, and some of them just happen to be ones my kids like as well.I grew up with WLIR, one of the coolest rock stations ever, and that – along with influences from friends and my older brother is where I learned what bands I liked. My kids don’t recognize the existence of local radio, unless it’s to beg me to turn off NPR in the morning and pop in Franz Ferdinand. These are iTunes and iPod children, and, oddly enough, they rely on me to help steer them toward cool bands. Well, the two older boys, anyway; the tweener girl finds her own way in a pop landscape of which I know little.My eldest son has told me his friends are amazed that I listen to Green Day, to which I say: “Boy, I was listening to Green Day before there even was a Green Day.” Just sounds like a souped-up version of The Ramones, as far as I can tell. And if I, like most people my age, were listening to this stuff 20 or 30 years ago, why would we stop just because we’ve got a few gray hairs? And what are all these other parents listening to now – did they all switch from The Who, Def Leppard and Bush to chamber music and New Age?My father hated all the music we listened to, with the exception of some Beatles. He lumped them all into one band he called “The Awful Awfuls” and put a piece of tape on the volume levers on the stereo in the living room; we were not to exceed level 4, although of course we did, daily. While my tolerance doesn’t extend much to rap or ultra pop, I enjoy the fact that rock is something I can share with my kids. Start them off young, with a good, fun band like They Might Be Giants and next thing you know they’re bugging me to put some Cake on their iPod.I can understand how folks over 30 can fail to understand the charms of Eminem or the genius of Kanye West (whom I’ve never heard). All I can say is, while there’s nothing wrong with wheeling out “Exile on Main Street” or “Scary Monsters” once in a while, finding new music to enjoy with your kids can be a rewarding experience. You might even pick up a few cool points along the way.Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14625, or, Colorado

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