Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wake up music

I grew up thinking that people over age 40 hated rock-n-roll. I thought it was a generational thing. And I thought rock music was a kid thing. I didn't realize it was an individual thing. Classical music played daily in our home. We'd wake up to soft violins playing in a Vivaldi tune or the peaceful melody of Pachelbel Cannon in D. We'd eat lunch to waltzes by Strauss and symphonies by Beethoven. That was all we knew. We thought it was that way in every household. Except that we had older siblings. My oldest brother is 17 years older. He was listening to Deep Purple and the Doors when I was really young. In grade school, it shifted to country and Eagles-type tunes. Had it not been for my older siblings' influence, I may not have known other types of music existed. My father detested hard rock and really any kind of rock....even the softest ballads.

I used to spend the night often at my oldest brother's house when he was first married and later they moved back home for a short time, so I got a good taste of other types of music. There are some tunes that just instantly make me think of him and my sister-in-law - from oldies to classic rock to disco.

Hang on Sloopy by the McCoys
I Love a Rainy Night by Eddie Rabbit
Lookin' for Love by Johnny Lee
The Closer You Get, The Further I Fall by Alabama
Always Something There to Remind Me by Naked Eyes
I Come From a Land Down Under by Men at Work
If I Can't Have You by the Bee Gees
Don't You Want Me Baby? by Human League

And lots of others.

It was in fourth grade that I finally came to the realization that music is a matter of taste. Our music teacher, Mr, Paschke, would have record day. We were welcome to bring in a record of our own and he'd play it for the class. And this was the very early 80's. Everyone was still listening to vinyl. It was kind of in a pocket between the fading of 8-track and the introduction of cassette tapes. One girl brought in an Olivia Newton-John record and we listed to "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "Physical." Another person brought in Rick Springfield and we listened to "Jesse's Girl." And these records were bought for these kids BY THEIR PARENTS! I was beyond shocked. I felt like I'd been duped. All along I'd been under the impression that parents just did not like or listen to anything but classical - not just my parents, but any parents. Around that time, I remember my mom started playing country for us. Dad hated it. He didn't like the "twangy" voices of Loretta Lynn, the Judds, Conway Twitty and others and hated the facial expressions that Kenny Rogers would make when he sang a heartfelt love song. My brothers made fun of the country music. I was just happy to have something besides classical to listen to. Our first non-classical record that our family owned was the Oak Ridge Boys. I was so excited to bring my record in for record day to Mr. Paschke's class and I asked the teacher to play "Elvira." My classmates were less than thrilled. It was definitely a time when country was not cool -- at least not to fourth graders.

From then on I guess I rebeled in my musical tastes. I started to diss Dad's musical selections, tolerated Mom's country tunes and played all those wonderful cheesy 80's rock songs in my room and listened to them on my walkman. (Remember those -- the earliest iPods?) U2. Bon Jovi. Michael Jackson. Madonna. Def Leppard. Prince. The Police. Phil Collins. The Eurythmics. Air Supply. Genesis. John Cougar Mellencamp. Bruce Springsteen. Kenny Loggins. Journey. Chicago. Asia. Billy Joel. Hall and Oates. Huey Lewis & The News. Toto. Culture Club. Bryan Adams. Duran Duran. Lionel Richie. Pat Benetar. Stevie Nicks. The Cars. Cyndi Lauper. Rod Steward. Van Halen. Kool and The Gang. Motley Crue. Naked Eyes. Tears for Fears. Survivor. Wham!

The next few years were a battle with my dad as I wanted to watch MTV and he didn't want us to watch it. I wanted to jam to Prince. He wanted to play soothing music by Bach. My had has always been a super easy-going and calm guy. But nothing...nothing...ever fired him up as much as when we'd change the channel to MTV as soon as he left the room.

Over the years, my musical tastes have expanded. I've grown to like a large variety of music, spanning from  blues to country to soft rock to pop to reggae and more. And I've come to very much appreciate the classical stuff that dad was piping into our ears since before we could walk.

Dad, in turn, has expanded a little outside his comfort zone, as well. His preferred genre will always be classical. And you'd never find him purchasing or choosing to listen to anything else. But I can play a song without eliciting the displeasure of those MTV days. Somewhere along the line, I've gotten him to accept Elvis music and we go a couple times a year to see an Elvis tribute artist. I can even play a rock song or two in the car without complaint.

It took me many years to figure out that music was a matter of personal preference. And although it's not my first choice, I'm so glad dad introduced us to stuff like this (I still play this once in a while in the morning to get me going):

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