Growing up, we listened to all kinds of music. My dad was mostly into classical music, but that included Vangelis (Chariots of Fire soundtrack, anyone?) and the “Hooked on Classics” series, so I use the term loosely. My mom was into James Taylor, John Denver, and Carly Simon, mostly, so that’s what we listened to in our house and in the car, at least while my sister and I were little. And then one Christmas we were given matching AM clock radios, and that was the end of that: we discovered pop music and never looked back. “Bette Davis Eyes” and “Maneater” and “Morning Train” and later, “Our House” and “White Wedding” and “The Safety Dance.” One way or another, we always had some kind of music playing and even now when I hear “Sunshine on My Shoulders” or “You’ve Got A Friend,” I get a little sappy remembering all of those good times.
When I was pregnant with F, I assumed we’d be the kind of parents who play Modest Mouse and the Clash for our kids; that we’d teach them to rock out and raise them only on “good” music. But as soon as I held that tiny little bean in my arms, something (actually, a LOT of things) changed. I felt so protective of her that I just wanted her to hear sweet, soothing music, not loud, abrasive stuff. Nothing too loud, nothing with adult lyrics, you name it. I was instantly transformed into Tipper Gore circa 1985, and I was ok with that! It was just another way I changed as soon as I became a parent, and while it took some time to adjust, it always just felt right to me. My hipster cred may have sailed right out the window, but I don’t think I really ever had any anyway, so oh well.
Thankfully, there is a ton of AWESOME music out there for kids now, both soothing and a little on the loud side. We got some hand-me-down Raffi and Laurie Berkner CDs, and we still check those out every once in a while. Jack Johnson’s “Curious George” soundtrack and classic Disney soundtrack music and Elizabeth Mitchell were all in regular rotation and some days, still are. As she grew we discovered They Might Be Giants and the Wee Hairy Beasties and more recently, Parry Gripp‘s little nuggets of silliness have become favorites. But all of the sudden, within the past 3 months, something life-changing has happened: F has discovered pop music. HELP.
It all started with Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks” and summer camp. For most of the past summer, she went on near-daily field trips, and in the van, they listened to the radio. One day when we jumped in my car, the song just happened to be on my radio station, and while I absentmindedly reached up to change it to the “Tangled” soundtrack, she said, “MOM! WAIT! I LOVE THAT SONG!!”
See, at work here at FM 94/9, that was one of our most requested songs this year. That means I’ve played it so many times on the radio that I sing it in my sleep, even when I think as hard as possible about ANY OTHER SONG PLEASE GET THIS ONE OUT OF MY HEAD! SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS! MANEATER! THE SAFETY DANCE! ANYTHING! And: nothing helps. That ubiquitous song was just constantly stuck in my head. I couldn’t escape. So when F announced that not only was she aware of its existence but that she “LOVED” that song? I may have lost time for a minute. When I came back to reality, I took a deep, cleansing breath. I counted to ten. And then, I did what any self-respecting parent would do: I downloaded it for us.
We listened to “Pumped Up Kicks” on repeat in the car for the next few months. We listened to it at home and a few times, we even listened to it at the beach. And you know how so many parenting experts advise you to “dig deep” when the tough stuff comes up? Reach down inside yourself to tap into your deepest wells of patience? Well, I’m happy to say I found those places, and for the most part, I listened to it with her with a smile on my face. My teeth may have been gritted, but I have to admit: it was pretty cute, her first real pop music experience. Thankfully she has no idea what the lyrics mean and misheard most of them. But we survived the Spring of Foster The People, we made it through with our sanity (mostly) intact and we even started to listen to some more They Might Be Giants every now and again. Until yesterday.
She came home from camp singing Gotye, “Somebody That I Used To Know,” and told me that it was her “NEW FAVORITE SONG, MOM! I LOVE IT!!”
The Summer of Gotye is upon us.