Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Is Michael Stipe my kids' Brian Wilson?

Last night while driving home with the kids in the car, a little-known R.E.M. song [Carnival of Sorts (boxcar)] came on the satelite radio. Before I had a chance to turn up the volume, A. exclaimed from the backseat "I like this song, Mommy." S. chimed in that she did too. How that warmed my heart.

As those of you who know me in real life probably know, R.E.M. is my favorite band. I've even engaged on road trips to see the band on tour, including one quite memorable show in Atlantic City on Halloween (when I was 5 months pregnant) and another at Jones Beach this last summer during a nasty thunderstorm.

I started to think about how our parents' music preferences influence our own as well as when the two paths diverge. I grew up with a lot of 50s and 60s eras oldies, heavy on the Beach Boys, as well as late 70s and early 80s pop hits. My first in-person concert was Cher (accompanied by my father - pretty frightening in retrospect) followed by a Beach Boys/Chicago double-header. Both of these were in junior high. At the time, I though this music was the best out there. Then came high school.

One of the first tapes I bought after entering high school, at a friend's suggestion, was Violent Femmes by Violent Femmes. In the car on the way home, my dad offered to play it for us. Needless to say, halfway in to the first verse of "Blister in the Sun" (right around "body and beats I stain my sheets"), Dad ejected the tape and said "are you sure that's the kind of music you want to be listening to?" To my dad's credit, when I replied in the affirmative, he kept his mouth shut. From then on, there has been very little overlap in our music of choice.

I still really like the Beach Boys - Pet Sounds makes a rotation on our playlist - but most of the rest of what my parents listen to makes my skin crawl (can you say Fleetwood Mac?). I like to think that D. and I have more progressive music preferences than my parents, but I'm sure the day will come when S and A will ask me to change the music when R.E.M. comes on in the car.