A musical education.

Have you ever looked at photos from past decades, or even some of your parents’ old  photo albums? They are often absolutely hilarious. That is, until you stumble upon some pictures of you, in your mid teens to early twenties. There will, I am sure, be a photograph somewhere, of you in an ill-advised outfit, which at the time, you thought was pretty damn cool. If it’s not you, then I’m certain there will be someone at the periphery of the shot, wearing something absolutely hysterical. While the clothing may be nothing short of woeful, the real horror stories are in the hairstyles. Depending on which era you are revisiting there could be sightings of a perm (dry or wet),  a bowl cut, an afro, curtains, a mullet or two (extra points for them), an occasional step, or it’s big brother the undercut, that shaggy brit-pop thing, some dreadlocks, or a million other styles.* If you happened to live in a sleepy seaside town in South East Kent in the early 90’s you may have clapped eyes on a 15 year old me with a step and spikes combo. You’d have had to be quick though, as my Mum marched me back to the barbers about 17 seconds after seeing my new “do”. Although there is no photographic evidence of this particular fashion crime (at least none that I know of), I frequently look at pictures of my younger self and wonder what I was thinking.

When it comes to fashion, it seems that there is no shortage of embarrassment. I take tremendous comfort from the fact that the unease I experience every time I look at old pictures, will pale in comparison to the abject humiliation the current crop of “hipsters” have to look forward to in about a decade. They will also have the indignity of remembering that they behaved like complete twats too!

When it comes to music though, there is a peculiar role reversal. While this generation’s children mock our sense of style, I have a similar disdain for their pop music, and even some of the less popular stuff too. I think that the vast majority people over 30 would agree that the music we listened to as youngsters, was far better than the dross which pollutes the airwaves and ears of today’s youth. I’m sure that things weren’t so terrible when we were young and impressionable, but a quick examination of the hits of my younger days tends to suggest that I’m fooling myself.

Now I don’t want to sound like some sort of hysterical teenager, but I believe that music is incredibly important. It can help people to define themselves, who they choose to hang out with, or if not, can at least steer the direction of the conversation. It might just be me, but particularly during my teens and twenties, I found music to be a great source of inspiration, comfort, and a hundred other emotions too. By playing music I felt I was able to rebel and begin to define who I was as a person, and I imagine, to some degree, what I used to listen to, for better or for worse, helped me to become the man I am today. This is perhaps a long bow to draw, especially when you consider that my particular brand of rebellion, initially at least, involved listening to most of my dad’s tapes.

For these reasons, and a myriad more besides, I am trying to introduce our kids to music with varying degrees of success.

Fraboo recently turned eight, and amongst her gifts was a Michael Jackson CD. I think that this would have to be her most used present, and has led to her acquiring several more of his albums.

Now I don’t think that there is any question, that the King of Pop was a slightly unusual fellow, but despite that, he was an incredibly gifted performer, and to my cynical old(and Fraboo’s young impressionable) ears, his music sounds as fresh and exciting as it did when I first heard Thriller several decades ago.

So I am more than happy for her to listen to M.J. It’s not just her though; when I think I’m alone, I’ll perform a little moonwalk, and enthusiastically grab my crotch, whilst wailing in a surprisingly-easy-to-achieve falsetto. Sadly I sound like a slightly more camp version of the Bee Gees (if that’s even possible?), rather than Jacko, but I guess you can’t win them all. Anyway, I digress.

For Boy-Boy, his current spirit animal is a Timber-wolf named Justin (yes, I know his surname is Timberlake), and whenever “Can’t stop the feeling” comes on the stereo (which is frequently), he stops whatever he’s doing and begins, what can only be described as bopping. His reaction is similar when Pharrell’s modern classic “Happy” comes on, although to be fair, Barry Gibb and I usually beat him to the dance floor. It’s as though the music seizes him and he just has to move, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. Whilst his moves may not be conventional, like most kids of his age, he shows none of that self consciousness which cripples the vast majority of us, as we get older (in my experience this can be dealt with, by using liberal doses of alcohol).

You may recall from a previous post, that from a very young age, Jojo has enjoyed listening to rock music (the harder, the better). Recently, the two of us went on a very long drive together, to pick up an item which I had won on an online auction. I decided that I would take the opportunity to listen to a few CDs which I either hadn’t heard for many years, or hadn’t listened to at all. As I said, it was a very long journey! I explained to Jojo that we were going to enjoy some really great music and while he seemed to be in agreement, it became apparent that he had other plans.

We were half way through the first track of an old favourite of mine when he began to sing very loudly (and tunelessly), Hickory Dickory Dock. I did what any mature adult would do, and turned the volume up. In response to this he began to sing even louder and over the next five minutes the two of us engaged in a little passive aggressive war. I would like to say that I prevailed, and that we got to enjoy  to the whole of the excellent Kingdom of Rust by the Doves, without interruption. I would also like to say that I have run a marathon, and scaled Mount Everest. But all of these statements would be lies.

Instead, what happened was that we played the Hickory Dickory Dock game. For those of you who have never played it (and I myself was one of those), here’s what happens. As I’m sure you remember the nursery rhyme goes as follows.

“Hickory dickory dock,

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one,

The mouse ran down.

Hickory dickory dock.”

This is normally where the song ends. If, however, you are playing the game, once you reach the end of the verse, the person you are playing with will shout “again, again!”. This time, another creature will run up the clock and the clock will strike the next number in sequence. One would assume that this game can only last for a finite time. Sadly, at 2 years old, Jojo has little understanding of time, and as such, has no idea that a clock will only strike 12 times. By the time the clock had struck 25 I thought that there was little benefit in explaining that there are only 24 hours in a day.

At this point I had also started to recycle the animals which were making their way up the clock. Never-the-less, Jojo was having a fantastic time

At least I assumed that he was, but when I got to the 78th climbing of the timepiece, I glanced over at him, and noticed that he was having a little snooze! Just to make sure he was completely asleep (and because I like round numbers), I sang another 22 verses, (all with tigers), and then turned the stereo on again.

They say that your mind is able to absorb information while we are sleeping. If that is the case then Jojo will have inadvertently received the education I was hoping to give him. For now though it seems that I have that wretched nursery rhyme stuck in my head!

*Unfortunately my knowledge of ladies hairstyles is limited to a perm, a bob and the “Rachel” so the list provided is almost entirely men’s styles.

2 thoughts on “A musical education.

  1. You make me laugh out loud. What a joy to read your little life moments with your beautiful family. Treasure them and keep writing, it’s a highlight of my day to ready your blog. Awesome daddy you are and an awesome mommy you married.

    • Wow, Thanks so much Bronwyn. Really the whole point of writing this blog was to make people laugh (at me mostly), so if I’m doing that then I must be doing a reasonable job.
      Thank you for your kind words about Mrs L. and I. I agree that she is an awesome woman!

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