As a parent, many of life’s best and most potent memories will involve one’s children. There are, of course, the milestones: births and birthdays, first steps, first days at school, holidays, graduations, weddings etc. And there will be random events or just the vibe of a certain age which resonates stronger than that of other ages.
My only child, a son who now is 17, has given me a truckload of such memories, all of them happy. One particular joyful memory is our sharing in the enjoyment of music. When he was three years old, for a while I had to dance him to sleep. I’d put on some vinyl records, and slowly dance and sing along until he’d drift away. Over time, a standing playlist developed.
Bath-time was singing time. He’d loudly sing his favourite nursery rhymes and then some songs on our evening playlist. I have a home video recording of him sitting in the bath singing The Righteous Brothers “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” and John Travolta’s “Sandy” from Grease.
Another home video recording of that time concerns none of our sleep-dancing songs. Sitting at our dining room table, he spontaneously starts singing: “I can see by what you carry that you come from Barrytown.” As readers of my blog, Any Major Dude With Half A Heart, will know, I am rather partial to Steely Dan, and the first side of 1974’s Pretzel Logic is, in my view, a masterpiece. So I was very proud of my little boy for digging on the musical stylings of the Dan.
He has remained pretty cool. The first CD he bought with his own money, when he was 10, was The Beastie Boys’ Licence To Ill, an album released 18 years earlier; the second, soon after, was a best of collection of The Highwaymen (that’s the Cash/Jennings/ Kristofferson/ Nelson country supergroup).
At the same age, he turned up for his first guitar lesson. “What do you want to play?” the tutor, a grizzled old session man, asked him, no doubt expecting to hear in response Green Day or Black Eyed Peas. My son – ten years old – replied: “Johnny Cash”. Which is as cool an answer as he could ever have given. In the end, he did learn several Green Day songs, and he is still a keen guitar player – of old and new material.