I've tried to walk the line between imposing my tastes in music on my kids and letting them discover music they enjoy on their own. My tastes are all over the map, so they've gotten a little of everything. My 14-year-old daughter Iris heard a lot of the pop I've mostly ignored through her friends, and came to really like Lady Gaga and some of those emo-pop groups like Owl City in addition to her favorites, the Flaming Lips and the Beatles. But she has mostly left that behind in recent years. Ten-year-old son Lyle, more opinionated and less curious, hasn't sought out music on his own until recently, and loves Skrillex and Green Day, both introduced to him by slightly older friends.
So I liked when Audra suggested her contributors who are also parents subject their offspring to their own favorite music. In her piece about the uproar over an NPR intern's dismissal of Public Enemy, she is of the opinion that younger generations are in the right to reject or ignore the music older folks consider classics. I agree that they can and should form contrary opinions to those of their forefathers, but I think any discerning music lover should at least sample music that shaped the current music landscape. I wouldn't say I've forced my tastes on my kids. It's just that I own more records, and it's my home stereo, and my car -- though I'm glad to change stations or put in their CDs if they ask.
While I wasn't old enough to appreciate it when it came out, Fugazi's Repeater is among the albums that shaped what I think about rock when I got to high school, is considered a classic and, because I hadn't listened to it in years, the kids would hear it with fresh ears. Following are the kids' reactions, track-by-track.
They seemed pretty unmoved by this one. No visible signs of rocking out or even head nodding, and they didn't take a break from their ongoing conversation.
Iris, without much enthusiasm: It was good.
Lyle, apathetic: It was nice.
My favorite song on the album got a better reaction. Not enough to get them off the couch, though.
Iris, more convincing: It was good.
Lyle: It was very rock and roll.
Iris: I just love rock and roll, like the drums, the bamp! Bamp!
Lyle: I like the guitar.
Lyle: That wasn't as good as the other ones.
Iris, totally bored: Yeah.
Iris: I liked that one!
Lyle: Yeah, it had a good ending.
Iris: It sounded like something you could dance to.
After I gave my thoughts on the anti-materialism in the lyrics, she was more enthusiastic.
Iris: I wish people thought that way today.
Iris: I liked that one too.
Lyle: That one was a little more different than the others.
"Sieve Fisted Find"
Lyle: I like the drums a lot in this one! I can't understand what he's saying. It sounds like 'sophisti-find.' If only I had long hair so like I could ... (begins headbanging).
Iris: That was cool. I don't know what else to say.
By this time they seemed to be listening more actively, standing and moving a bit, nodding to the beat.
Lyle: Whoa, I like the guitar on this one.
Iris: I like when they shout things.
Me: Do you think your friends would be into this at all? If you put it on would they, like it, enjoy it at a party or something, or would they ignore it or hate it?
Iris: I like this kind of music, but I don't think a lot of kids would.
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"Two Beats Off"
Lyle: It wasn't my favorite, but it was pretty good.
Iris: I like the beats on this one, the bass with the drums.
By "Reprovisional" and "Shut the Door," they seemed to be getting bored, offering only half-hearted "liked that one" and "pretty good." I ask if they usually like to listen to whole albums or just song to song.
Both in unison: Song to song.
Iris: I wish I could listen to whole records, but I don't really know how to work a record player.
I gave a little more background on Fugazi and their insistence on low record and concert prices.
Iris: That's so cool! It makes me like them more.
Lyle: That's cool, but I don't really care. I'm not paying for it.