This all started when our daughter was born 18 years ago. From the very beginning I sang to her and she would sing back to me. Sharing music together has been one of the best parts of being a father and it inspired the song "Collide the Generations" which is also partly about the feeling I think all parents have about their kids passing them by at the speed of light. That got me thinking about how over the years just about everyone I know gets excited when they talk about sharing their favorite music with their kids and that younger musicians talking about older musicians influencing them is pretty interesting too. So here's a place for all of that stuff. — Garland
Stories about how music gets passed down the line, whether parents talking about sharing music with their kids or young musicians talking about the older performers who inspired them. Essays will be posted on a regular basis. We want to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the days following the death of Lou Reed, I found myself contemplating which entry in his bewildering catalog means the most to me. It would be easy to pick 1989’s New York, my official answer to the favorite-album-of-all-time question. When I really think about it, though, I have the deepest personal connection to Set the Twilight Reeling from 1996.
It had been four years since his last release, and in the meantime he’d found love with Laurie Anderson. It shows in the songs, which are warm, self-reflective, funny, nostalgic even. This is the album that begins with a billow of buzzing guitar and the words, “When I was a young man, no bigger than this, a chocolate egg cream was not to be missed.”
Though I didn’t fully understand it at the time, the gentler, more domesticated Reed of StTR was just my speed. The sad fact is, even at age eighteen, I was about as domesticated as it gets. My parents were globetrotting hippies when they were young, and even after they settled down, they remained outsized personalities, rule-breakers, irreverent, emotional. For me, teenage rebellion took the form of excessive caution, an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, a tendency to internalize—basically, I was uptight. (Still am, to some degree.)
With both of his parents in the music business, my son Brendan had no chance of not being exposed to music. His Mom noticed while he was still in her belly that he seemed to respond to Cannonball Adderley when they heard his music on WVGO (the great jazz station based in New Jersey that thankfully reaches into NYC). We didn’t own any of his music in our own collection at the time, but we quickly bought him his first CD. And yes, he kicked when it was played. Upon birth, during those late nights of comforting when he wouldn’t sleep or wanted attention I learned that pretty much any song by The Beatles could be sung as a lullaby. And as he grew older, many of their songs became sing alongs as he rode in the back seat being toted to and fro. I even purchased a paperback lyric book of their songs so we could try to not butcher the lyrics too badly (I have to note this particulair book had many errors, which was frustrating).
Early on when he was 2, we determined he was a “pop” kid. He heard and fell in love with an advance of Hanson’s “Mmmm Bop” and soon, so did a lot of the rest of the world. He proved a great little barometer: if Bren liked it it was pretty much destined to be a “hit”. He often earned his keep hearing his Mom’s company’s songs on TV and notifying her immediately. Very often it turned out the song hadn’t been licensed properly and the errant party was made to pay a full rate. He still performs this valuable service for her but as his viewing habits have changed he’s busting fewer people/companies. Nickelodeon and Disney in particular, have to be glad he’s no longer policing their licensing departments.
My daughter Natalie was about 11 when the Spice Girls hit with "Wannabe," and naturally, with other kids her age falling prey to their dulcet tones - or perhaps more importantly - their awesome stage names, she was not immune to the charms of this fluffy piece of pop.
Then she heard the Beatles. Or rather, saw them on TV. The combination of old Beatles footage and those timeless songs had her in thrall, and even when she found out that one member was dead and the rest were older than her parents and that they had not even been the Beatles since 1970, it didn't dent her enjoyment one bit.
I tried but failed to turn her on to the Stones, though. She found Jagger absurd and just laughed at the very idea. How about some Beefheart? I thought. Well, as any young man in 1971 found out to his chagrin, if you asked a girl "So...do you wanna come back to my place and listen to some Beefheart?" you would find yourself going home alone that night.