The Kids Are Alright


It's a Saturday afternoon and I am driving around with my nine-year-old nugget running errands and becoming increasingly frustrated with the endless questions that he is asking me as we go along our merry way. I propose that we listen to some music, any music at all. The choice is his to make.

So, he does.

The KidzBop channel.

Damn you, Sirius Radio!!

I am now listening to the voices of teenybopper kids singing altered lyrics to bubblegummy songs and the result is a music lovers nightmare.

After I get home and soothe my eardrums with a heavy pour of my preferred libation and a mixtape that runs strong with Miles Davis, I ponder what I can do to not only ease my suffering when it comes to road trips with the rug rat, but also instill a love of music, GOOD music, REAL music into those little, undeveloped ears of his.

What can you play that not only makes me sing with happiness, but is appropriate enough for out loud listening with the youngest member of my family? I'm okay with certain words because I'm a klutz and my first response to pain is usually something obscene, but I don't necessarily want him dropping f-bombs like Charlie Sheen dropping hundies on porn stars and hookers.

So, I sit down at my computer and begin to create the perfect prepubescent playlist.

Now, I know that I want to include certain bands and artists because they are classic, and I would be remiss if I excluded them in the musical education of a youngster.

I know that I am not going to include any Bieber or Swift. Or Katy Perry. I mean, for fuck's sake, are they really "artists"? I could not, in any world, list them on a playlist of mine.

Apparently, I might be a music snob.

Now, what songs have catchy little lyrics and are appropriate(ish)?

My mind immediately jumps to Marley, The Fab 4, Bowie, Mercury. How can I not throw in some Mac? I mean, c'mon. It's the Mac for fuck's sake.

I create my list, insert USB drive, copy and voila, instant "Kidzmix", and yes, I absolutely name all playlists because I am a sentimental at heart and I think we all know the power of the mixtape.

I start off easy. It's important to get kids attention with something catchy. They have the attention span of gnats, so I want to come out of the gate strong. Imagine Dragons. Thunder.

Next, I'm going to need something that still has a good upbeat, but maybe a tad lighter. I'm going with Marley. Three Little Birds. Every kid has heard that song somewhere at some point, so they'll recognize the familiarity and be able to start singing along.

Song after song goes on the list.

Willie Nelson makes the cut, as does Pharrell, Jimmy Buffett and Blind Melon.

I am beginning to find that there are many songs that I want to share with my boy. I want him to appreciate the music as well as the lyrics. I want him to enjoy the stories that these artists are telling. Maybe one day, he'll tell them to his children.

As I continue on, I realize how many songs we should be sharing with kids these days. Yes, there may be some bad words, but the lyrics are amazing compared to the crap that is out there now. I've soon replaced Justin Bieber's famous "Baby, Baby, Baby" line with "he got a tattoo on his arm that say "Baby", he got another one that just say "Hey"".

I've trashed "Shake it off" and in its place, I insert "We don't need no education".

It doesn't take much to finish my mix. It doesn't take long till my mini me is singing along.

When we are out riding around town grabbing those groceries nowadays and I ask my random nine-year-old what he wants to listen to, he immediately responds with "The Chain" by Fleetwood Mac. He sings every word and in the end, he sings Stevie and Lindsey's back and forth lyrics.

And he never misses a beat.

He loves Pink Floyd and BB King and he has come into his own by asking if I will take him to an Ed Sheeran concert. I still can't quite get him hooked on Prince, so I think some DNA might have gotten mixed up in the oven, but all in all, I couldn't be happier with my choices.

He can recite "Paul Revere" from beginning to end without hesitation, and regrettably without timing, but he gets it. He understands the difference between a song and music. Between a line and a lyric. Between a singer and an artist.

He may not always share my eclectic love of music. He might always tell me that Bocelli sounds like he has diabetes. (I know, I don't understand that metaphor either), but I'll take every chance I get to introduce him to new artists. I'm sure when he becomes a teenager, we'll have some discussions on what sucks and what rocks. (Obviously everything that isn't my taste will suck.)

I'm excited about the possibilities. I'm excited to have this relationship with music, with him.

So today we sing together, and we'll see where it leads tomorrow.

All I hope is that you never break the chain, little man. Never break the chain.

"Tall Enough to Ride Tunes"

Thunder / Believer ... Imagine Dragons

Just a Cloud Away ... Pharrell

Three Little Birds ... Bob Marley

Cover of the Rolling Stone ... Dr. Hook

Yellow Submarine / Blackbird ... The Beatles

Starfish and Coffee ... Prince

Three is a Magic Number ... Blind Melon

Golden Years / Space Oddity ... David Bowie

Cheeseburger in Paradise ... Jimmy Buffett

Shotgun Willie ... Willie Nelson

Bohemian Rhapsody / Another One Bites the Dust / We Will Rock You ... Queen

Joy to the World ... Three Dog Night

My Ding-a-ling ... Chuck Berry

Rainbow Connection ... Jason Mraz

Uptown Funk ... Bruno Mars

Loves me Like a Rock ... Simon & Garfunkel

Hey, Soul Sister ... Train

You Don't Mess Around with Jim / Car Wash Blues / Roller Derby Queen ... Jim Croce

Werewolves of London ... Warren Zevon

Crocodile Rock ... Elton John

Dancing in the Street ... Jagger / Bowie

Sunshine ... Jonathan Edwards

Why Can't We Be Friends ... War

Atomic Dog ... Parliament

Mockingbird ... James Taylor / Carly Simon

Another Brick in the Wall Pt.2 ... Pink Floyd