Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Eating Chex with Janet Reno

what IS that on her head?

I would have a lot less fun with my kids if I didn't have an iPod. I mean it. We have dance parties almost every day, and if I had to be putting on the same tired CD that everone could agree on, I, well we wouldn't feel like dancing. As it is, I can spin that little wheel, see what comes up, and find out whether it's good or not.

That's right - I totally believe that my kids (and to a somewhat lesser degree all kids) are the perfect judges of music. Untainted by the coolness factor, untraumatized by exposure to the taste of former roommates (Cindy), immune to inadvertent memory associations (camp, first crush, road trips undertaken with inadequate tapeage), they instinctively respond to good beats and pleasing melodies (and somewhat repetitive lyrics but what do you want, fact is we all like that). They know what they like.

And what do they like?

AC/DC. One of the proudest moments in my young life was when my two-year-old Big Man was with me in Atomic Books and Back in Black started up on the sound system. He stopped in his tracks and gasped, "Me know dis song! Me LOVE dis song!"

Chicago. The Broadway soundtrack, not the band. Kind of mystifying to me, but the songs are engaging, and their grandfather admires those Bob Fosse moves, so maybe that's where it comes from.

The All Mighty Senators. It's almost embarrassing. Mr. Three was moved to sing Flex and Release in the Hall of Mammals and their Extinct Relatives at the American Museum of Natural History. And if Three spots Landis (the band's front man) dropping off his kid at Big Man's school, he feels compelled to greet the poor man and inquire as to whether he gots the soul.

Beastie Boys. Although without exception, when a Beastie Boys song comes up on the iPod, Mr. Three will exclaim, "Landis!"

Now, and here is one of the best things about the iPod, usually I just skim the G-rated songs and put them on the Kid Dance Fiasco playlist. Some slightly filthy songs, though, are so beloved by our kids that we play them anyway, and have to kind of get creative.

Big Friend's daddy's band (which used to be called Sick and is now Pulaski) has a few songs like this. In El Camino, for example, there is a series of clever lines that rhyme with "Camino": "All dressed up like Al Pacino," "Drinking beer not cappucino," etc., including one that goes, "Having sex with Janet Reno," which we always try to yell different words to (see title of this post).

Like me, Big Friend has some hearing loss, which makes it easier for his mom to cope with, say, the line in Hulk that goes "Biggest penis you've ever seen." She just hollers out, "Biggest PERSON you've ever seen" over the music. Backfired the other day when Big Friend's smart little pal was in the car and said, "Hey wait a minute. They didn't say 'person,' they said 'penis'!" She was all, "Look over there! It's a giant, er, building!" to forestall them insisting that she back up the CD and play it again just to check.

Big Friend has discovered the Beatles, though. He still loves his dad's punk-ass music and the Ramones and wears his Weezer t-shirt to school, but he has recently been copying the album art and memorizing all the words to the music of the Western world's most beloved band.

I've heard two more votes for the Beatles, by the way, and one more for the Ramones. Same kid likes the Doors - I think that kid must be very deep.

The Monkees. Even without watching their cutie TV series. Although I played I'm a Believer after we read Gakky Two-Feet to explain that the guy who wrote this book? is in THIS BAND! and I think they processed that. Seriously, can you believe how successful Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith became - after starting out as a fake TV band?

KC and the Sunshine Band. Zola. ABBA. Fishbone. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Pizzicato Five. They Might be Giants. Squirrel Nut Zippers (without even knowing the band names of these last 5). Juliet's kids like Weezer and Pansy Division. Friend the Girl wants to hear the Smiths all the time, and little Juicy Boy will sing "I think you're cra-zay" to nice ladies who tell him how cute he is.

Oddly, the Favorite Songs Ever in our house are by local Baltimore bands - bands which I knew way back when and never really played til I put the compilations on the iPod. Giant Robots by Berzerk; El Camino by Sick; and Wink by the Senators. I wonder what would happen if I let them hear Goddamn by Pornflakes or Love is a Moron - was that Cloaca?

Berzerk, by the way (and may I say holy crap look how young Skizz looks in the picture with Shonen Knife!), is what Dingoes Ate My Baby should have sounded like. Joss Whedon missed a trick - he and Skizz might have been great collaborators.

Do they just like what we like, what we expose them to? Does familiarity breed affection?

A's little boy is a big ol' Cars fan, and believe me, A likes her some skinny white rock and roll, although A theorizes that it's that futuristic sound that appeals to her space-happy man.

Perhaps not.
Exhibit A:
My kids are violently opposed to Zap Mama, completely indifferent to M.I.A., and totally bored by both Shonen Knife and Sonic Youth.

Exhibit B. The VERY FIRST TIME I put on Appetite for Destruction, they went stock-still for a second and then went nuts, dancing and spinning, stage-diving off the coffee table. It was like someone had force-fed them all the roses off the birthday cake. They love Guns N' Roses SO MUCH.

That pure, instinctive reaction - that's what made me think of writing this.

Most compelling of all, Exhibit C: Our friend Eric's daughter, who strenuously objects to "grownup music" - woe to Eric when he tries to put on Zeppelin II - heard Dark Side of the Moon for the first time one afternoon in the car on the way home from ballet class with two of her friends (were you counting? that was 6 prepositional phrases in a row). All three girls loved it.

This, to me, is scientific proof.