Shopping For Vinyl With My Teenager
There’s a stack of records in the living room that’s mostly mine. Globe of Frogs by Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians is currently spinning on the turntable. Before that it was New Day Rising by Husker Du, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars by Guided by Voices, and The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us by Beach Slang.
There’s a smaller stack of records in my teenage daughter’s bedroom that mostly belong to her. The portable turntable in there sometimes sees more action than the one in the living room these days. Her recent spins likely included Folklore, 1989 and Fearless — all by Taylor Swift — and whichever Beatles album she swiped from my stack.
Her new found love for the Fab Four is an exciting development in the last couple of years. I never really force fed music to my kids, so it has been a pleasant surprise to have her request “Strawberry Fields” or “Let It Be.”
Sure, I’d sneak songs like “Yellow Submarine” by the Beatles, “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, “Heat Wave” by Martha & the Vandellas, “September Gurls” by Big Star or “We Got the Beat” by the Go-Go’s onto their road trip playlists, but it was 99% what they liked at the time. I might be driving the car, but long ago relinquished control of the stereo.
On the flip side, I’ve become pretty well-versed in modern pop music. So, it’s with very little irony that I can easily rattle off my five favorite Taylor Swift songs, a task my daughter puts to me quite often. (In case you’re wondering: “Mean,” “Getaway Car,” “State of Grace,” “Back to December” and “August.”*)
In a just universe, she should be able to reciprocate with her five favorite Replacements songs (I kind of imagine her getting into Please to Meet Me, for some reason. “Skyway” and “Can’t Hardly Wait” in particular.). But, alas, she can’t—although we might be inching in that direction.
The other day, we got in the car together and a 70s punk playlist instantly started up on my phone. I asked if she wanted me to change it and—I swear on Sid Vicious’ padlock necklace—she said no, it’s okay.
Sure, she chatted with friends on Instagram pretty much the entire ride, but hummed along with songs like “I Don’t Mind” by Buzzcocks and “One Hundred Punks” by Generation X. We listened to about eight classics before I parked the car to continue our journey on foot.
- Stop one: A bookstore.
- Stop two: A pizza joint for lunch.
- Stop 3: A record store.
That last stop is something the two of us have been doing together about once a month since my mom got her a record player for Christmas. Since then, her moderate interest in my records has grown into a small collection of her own. It helps that I usually don’t make her pay for vinyl with her allowance money.
Bribery? Yep! And worth every penny. It’s a challenge staying connected to your kids as they grow up. The fact that we’ve found common ground in music in general (and vinyl in particular) is a miracle. If that means skipping the occasional four dollar cup of coffee, count me in.
This wasn’t my favorite record store, but it’s close to home. We initially split up, as is our habit on these excursions. I went to the “New Arrivals” bin; she headed straight for the “S” bin to check on the T. Swift stock. These days her collection also includes Arianna Grande and Lana Del Rey. She’s a Poptimist, while her dad’s an old rocker.
She eventually wandered back over to tell me about what she’d selected and to ask about what I’d found. These short conversations are what I most look forward to. We mindlessly discussed the album artwork for some of the artists I flipped past. Just two music-lovers idly chatting about music.
Twenty minutes later, we were at the counter checking out. I talked myself out of liquidating her college fund for the impressive stack I’d assembled, settling on a single Spoon album. She got For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver.
We kept discussing music on the walk back to the car, but the conversation soon drifted to other topics. She was back on her phone again for the drive home. I drummed along on the steering wheel to “Love Story” by Taylor Swift, a huge smile on my face.
*Subject to change based on which Taylor Swift album my daughter currently has in heavy rotation.