I think there’s something in your genes that determines what kind of music you like. Basically it boils down to the fact you won’t like the music your parents did. My dad came of age in the late fifties, listening to doo-wop and Elvis. My mom is a little younger; graduating with the class of American Graffiti. She listened to dance music from around the world – cha-cha and the like – and the mellow folk sounds of groups like the Four Freshmen. To this day, while I can tolerate doo-wop and even like an Elvis song or two, I have to say it’s not my favorite music to listen to. I liked the song Istanbul (Not Constantinople)… when it was covered by They Might Be Giants.
Mercifully my parents were married and settled down by 1965. Much of the British Invasion was lost on them. This allowed me to discover groups like The Beatles and make them my own. I grew up covering the gamut of rock from the Animals to ZZ Top and everything in between: Acid, Bubblegum, Arena, Punk, New Wave, Heavy Metal, Grunge. You name it. By the time I got married, I had close to a thousand CD’s. I also had a few hundred record albums, several dozen singles and some 78’s. I had racks of cassettes and even 8-tracks from artists like The Doobie Brothers (the format God intended us to listen to the Doobies on).
I like to think I have a pretty open mind when it comes to music. I’ve been gradually digitizing my audio collection. The last time I checked I had something like 18,000 songs, enough to choke your average iPod, and I’m still picking up on new stuff… or at least new for me. I found Frank Zappa late last year after seeing a documentary on his music. I listen to NPR a lot and they play World Music and a lot of Electronica Eclectica late at night. Meka has a diverse music collection herself. She listens to classical and hip-hop, Bach to Beck. On occasion I’ve borrowed her Steely Dan CD’s or one by Tom Waits. It’s only fair; she listens to my Surfjan Stevens CD and I haven’t seen my Ry Cooder album in quite some time!
While I enjoy blending our varied musical tastes, neither of us thought about the consequences of our actions and how it would affect our son. Covering so much musical ground left little for him to call his own. I gave him my old radio from my cubicle at work when he was four or so. He fiddled with it and ended up listening to a lot of Mexican music. We made the mistake of being too excited about it, so that went by the wayside. However, in the past few months, Daniel has discovered music he can call his own and – to be honest – I feel more like a parent every night. I cringe when he requests it in the car and offer alternatives that fall on deaf ears. He plays it all the time on his radio (my old one replaced at Christmas by a little stereo system courtesy of Grandpa and Grandma). I wait until he’s asleep and then sneak in and switch it off so I’m not subjected to it.
Yes, my son has found his own niche: “Lite Rock”.