Last night our household spent the evening getting a serious Prince fix. You know it’s a big deal when MTV plays music videos again.
My kids know Prince’s music, but the artist himself remained less of a icon for them, because, well, we had MTV and we had album covers, and they don’t. They don’t see musicians the way we do. Even when they do encounter videos, they don’t watch them every chance they get the way so many of my generation did. They pull the videos up, plug their headphones in, and listen while they do other things.
This causes a gap that’s more than age-related, more than generational.
Music was a huge chunk of my education at home. When I was little, music and dancing seemed a part of every day life. One of my earliest memories is my portable turntable and “I got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new key…”
Growing up, my house had a lot more music than television.
There were trips to music stores. Remember music stores? With albums and 45s? Sometimes my dad would DJ and we would guess the tunes, sometimes we took a spin around the loop, just listening to new cds. We went to a lot of concerts. My parents had a vast record collection that imparted their generation’s music to me, but they listened to a variety of new music as well.
Like our cat, I enjoyed sprawling out in front of large speakers, feeling the bass. Unlike our cat, I sang along to the songs, and pored over the albums.
I take this seriously. This is a really big job, putting decades, centuries even, of music into children.
It requires some force feeding.
Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes, thanks to Guitar Hero, your son asks you to buy the ‘new’ BonJovi song, “Wanted Dead or Alive” or suddenly all your kids have a fascination with Billy Squire.
I miss Guitar Hero days from the boy one. His taste in music has evolved into territory I can’t dig. Did you know some people relax in the bath to Avenged Seven Fold?!? I thought that was a good time to walk the dog.
I can assure you visuals are important to children.
Have you ever seen the look on a kid’s face when you first present them with curry, lentil soup, or hummus?
When we lived in Georgia, the little boys across the street were obsessed with Kiss. My littlest girls would go over there to play, and they’d return singing, telling me all about Paul and Stanley. (They liked Paul and Stanley best.) They knew what they wore, how they did their faces, how tall the boots were. They knew a lot about Kiss for bein 4 and 5. This was because of a discography — music, videos, interviews — that they suddenly had access to.
After the Kiss phase, Moo entered a near-obsessive Beatles phase, because we got the Love thingy with videos. Moo listened to The Beatles and watched the videos like it was her job, but she never saw the artists in a personal way. So then things like this happened:
Me: Do you know who Paul McCartney is?
Sassy: Famous guy.
Me: Do you know why he’s famous?
Sassy: He’s a singer.
Me: Do you know who John Lennon is?
Sassy: One of The Beatles?
Me: Yes. Do you know any of the other Beatles?
*calls Moo in*
Me: Moomalade, do you know who Paul McCartney is?
Me: Do you know who John Lennon is?
Me: What’s your favorite band?
Moo: The Beatles.
Me: Carry on.
But they know ALL the songs. This is an example of the kind of disconnect we get in a digital age. The bodies might move, the ears definitely take it in, but the hands are off and there’s not much to look at.
We went through a similar thing when Bowie passed. The weekend before Bowie passed, there had been a birthday tribute, and since Sassy had no idea what we were on about, The Mister and I spent time enhancing her Bowie education. Oh, she knew plenty of Bowie music, but not that it’s Bowie’s music.
And kids, well, they never like anything the first time around. My life is full of constant amazement over how their tastes grow and change. Sassy proclaimed Billy Joel to be the worst singer ever. She hated Elton John, thought “Bohemian Rhapsody” was stupid, could not understand why Led Zeppelin was a big deal. But just like asparagus, you keep puttin it in their faces, and eventually they swallow some.
One day in March, Moo asked me to turn Bob Seger off, but I refused. One day last week, she asked me to turn him up.
My latest download into Sassy?
A few mornings of this disc, now she sings and hums it.
I love the horns.
Sassy didn’t know who the hell Missy Elliot was until I said Iggy Azalea sounded just like her. Then when I played Missy, Sassy kinda hmmed and said that wasn’t too bad, and now guess what? Sassy loves Missy Elliot.
She’s still holding out on the asparagus…
As a mother, I like to give I Told You Sos and comment, “But you don’t like Fleetwood Mac, remember?”
“But bruschetta is gross because olives, remember?”
I will tell you, around 11 o’clock last night, I asked Sassy if she was in love with Prince yet, and she said, “Mama, I was in love with him about three songs in.” I declare that’s the power of visual stimuli. I mean, really, it’s PRINCE, FFS. If the guitar didn’t make you groove, there’s a beautiful man in gorgeous clothes and um, sometimes he takes them off.
Which leads me to my next bit, where for a long time, Sassy wouldn’t eat spaghetti unless it involved marinara. When she was 8, I told her I was making spaghetti carbonara, and somehow she didn’t hear the carbonara part, so when it was time for dinner she claimed, “You ruined my spaghetti!” and refused to try it. This week, I told her I was making spaghetti carbonara and she got all excited. Still cautious, I asked her to Google it. She said it looked good and she was still excited. She ate seconds. I’m making it again today.
If only I could get her to love spaghetti alla puttenesca. It’s those damned anchovies, you know. Sassy and Moo hate seafood. Except tuna and sushi, which they were exposed to at a young age. At home. Where chicken fingers were not an option. They won’t even eat chicken that’s been fried in the same oil as fish. I’ll keep tryin.
Love of anything grows from exposure.
How do you share your passions?