Monday, January 5, 2009

Baby Mine: My Boy

Thelonious Monster - My Boy [purchase]

"One day you and me, boy, we're gonna have it out, yeah,
And I know you'll probably hate me,
But that's life, boy."

We return to the Book of Bob for this week's contribution. Bob Forrest was/is the frontman for Thelonious Monster and he remains the patron saint of The Adios Lounge. "My Boy" is a U-turn in the band's catalog, a mournful piano ballad out of step from their shambolic rock 'n' roll wheelhouse. Bob wrote the song for his then-toddler son, Elijah, and is atypical for most baby songs in that it's written as a letter of apology. He knows that the kid was born into a broken, unstable family, soon to be wrecked by divorce, and that the toll on the boy will be immeasurable. He also knows that the boy will someday grow into a young man, at which time father and son will have it out. He knows this because, more than likely he went through it himself:

"Mom and dad, we're trying it for the first time and we're stable,
Pose for my boy,
Ain't it funny how history repeats itself,
She said that she never knew love could be so painful."

In just a few lines, Forrest subtly describes the legacy of familial dishonesty and dysfunction. Parents lie to their children because parents have always lied to their children. Sure, it doesn't capture a Capra-esque family moment, but it is undeniably and powerfully real. However, in being so honest, I think Bob was granting his son one of the greatest gifts a kid can get from his parents ... the truth.


I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Elijah turned out just fine, didn't become a drug-addicted fool, and in fact, plays music like (and occasionally with) his old man. The picture above shows father and son before a gig, Bob in the center (hands clasped as if in prayer) and his boy to his left, our right. Elijah plays in a duo called Terrors, whose self-styled shoegazing blues is not unlike Will Oldham in one of his many grizzled guises. Check it out, yo.

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