Thursday, May 02, 2013

The music the kids are listening to sucks

This is true today and it was true when I was a kid. At least according to my dad.

My dad was a jazz band leader in the heyday of the big band movement. He was a drummer who could count many famous jazz musicians as friends and acquaintances. It did no good to drop names to me since I didn't know who any of them were, but I was able to meet several of them in person. It impressed me even more when we'd be watching the Tonight Show orchestra or some awful PBS special on big band jazz and he'd point them out.

My dad had a great appreciation for music but no appreciation for anything I listened to. Now granted I can understand that he'd leave the room whenever I played KISS on my tiny tape player but he would shake his head at anything I played and dismissed it simply noise...even the Beach Boys.

I would go through my dad's extensive LP collection and look at all the album covers. Everyone just looked old. Even the Four Freshmen released albums as young men but still appeared old. They wore sweaters that just looked like they smelled like an old person's house.

In 1976, my older brother bought the Beach Boys album, Spirit of America. I played it all Summer. My dad preferred that I would not play it when he was home or inside the house. I ended up having to record it to tape through a small condenser microphone so that I could listen to it quietly.

All the while on Saturdays my dad would listen to his albums on the stereo console. You could hear it in every room of the house. I'd roll my eyes when the group with the sweaters came on...fuddy duddy old men...big whoop.

The Fuddy Duddy Sweater Quartet Awful shirts but they pretend to surf.

I became rather shocked one day while listening to music from the other room that I thought my dad had put on the Beach Boys album. I thought for maybe a second he was extending an olive branch to help span the impossible chasm that the world of music had introduced to our lives. He hadn't though. What had come on the stereo was the song Graduation Day by the Four Freshmen. I knew the song well because my brother's Beach Boys album had a live version of the very same song. How could this be?

As I grew older and began listening to them both I can't believe how blind my ears were to the fact that they were more similar than either my dad or I were ever willing to admit. One packaged in the style of my dad's youth and the other packaged in the carefree girls and hot rod themes of the 60's surf music scene.

Over the years, even up until yesterday I discovered another Beach Boys / Four Freshmen connection. While listening to the Four Freshmen at dinner (yes, I slowly have become my own father) I heard the song Their Hearts Were Full of Spring. I knew the tune very well as the Beach Boys had rewritten the words to the same tune in an ode to James Dean (A Young Man is Gone).

Below is an example that demonstrates how any substantive difference between the two groups was probably just in the packaging.

The crusty old-fashioned harmonies of the Four Freshmen
The youthful tones of the Beach Boys

I have realized that the music was never the issue. My dad loved the music of his youth because he loved his own youth. He saw my youth everyday because I was still living in it. What could I have possibly known about music? I had to be reminded not to leave my bike outside, not to wipe my nose with my sleeve, and to forever pick up my stuff. He was sick of my youth and wished for his back. The Beach Boys no matter how similar were not his youth and therefore they sucked. Period.

My kids love music and they're at an age where we listen to all kinds of things. I know at some point they will settle in on something I hate. I will hate it not because it lacks any listening value necessarily but because kids are I was stupid...and the days where I can freely be stupid too have long since passed.

Now excuse me I have to remind my kids to pick up their stuff.

1 comment:

NIBIN P B said...

great post keep going