My kids don’t listen to music. Sort of. My daughter loves the Hamilton cast recording. My son enjoys j-music, j-pop, and Anime music (don’t bother, it doesn’t matter, but yes, they are all different). My point is, neither of them likes good ol’ pop or rock. No rap, country, top 40, dance, electronica, dub-step, no. Their lives are on radio silence.

This bothers me. But not for the reason you think.

  1. They DO appreciate music. My girl plays a mean tenor sax for the jazz band. The boy insists that he and his mom go see Trans Siberian Orchestra every Christmas. That’s not it.
  2. I’m not desperate for them to like the bands/music I like. I’ve made peace with my kids apathy for Pearl Jam, and my son’s active loathing of the Beastie Boys.

Okay, no I haven’t! And part of whatever I have instead of a soul dies every time one of them rolls their eyes at the two score live versions of “Yellow Ledbetter” I play for them. But I digress…

And seriously, trying to FORCE your offspring to like your music is akin to living vicariously through their sports achievements…it’s just sad.

Anyway, the reason I cry (yes literally) when I think about the dearth of popular music in the lives of my kids is because it’s apparently the one thing which does not trigger them.

The reason music means so much to me is what it triggers.

When I hear “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals* or “You Are the Everything” by R.E.M. I am instantly a junior in high school talking on the phone with either Elise Millet or Amy Loeffler.

*Also, an early case of a lifetime of mishearing lyrics. For too long I thought the song went, “She drives me crazy, like LONG WHITE HAIR.” Actual lyric: …like NO ONE ELSE. Good ear, dipshit.

When I hear “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”, I’m a lonely 10 year old huddled under his blanket listening to the radio while trying to fall asleep. Air Supply, Bertie Higgins, Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, Burt Bacharach were my comfort and my friends and my escape from a childhood in turmoil. And hearing them now I can still see myself setting that precious clock radio to its nightly 59 minute countdown.

Play me any song from Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion albums and I’m in CD World at the Princeton Market Fair with good friends from freshman year at TSC. Too stupid to make tapes, we are all buying copies of the same disc.

There are currently about 2400 songs in my music library. Nearly every one carries with it a unique trigger to a memory — beautiful, sad, riotous, deep, poignant, scarred, loving, frightening — all important, all cherished.

My life has a soundtrack that is literally thousands of songs deep (and growing). Music makes me cry and smile. Every. Single. Day.

I cry for so many reasons when I think of my kids’ lives.

That they will never fall in love or feel heartache…

That they will never, even if it’s fleeting, feel cool…

That they are inheriting a hard, unkind world to navigate…

But mostly, that they will look back on their lives one day and struggle to recall the love, success, failure, charity, depression, hope, despair, and warmth because accompanying these memories will be nothing but needle static and dead air.

Seriously, who hates the Beastie Boys? WTF, boy?

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