Singing praises of popular music. It brings out the teen-ager in all of us.
November 4, 2014
My girls in girl mode, from a recent plane trip
The weekend drive to the barn with my daughters is a mostly beautiful 20-mile trek north of Mill Valley to horse country in Nicasio. Normally, I listen to sports radio, catching up on football scores, half-heartedly paying attention to an assortment of retired jocks conversing about this team and that play. I don’t particularly care but I find the chatter soothing. Sometimes.
But not today. Last week, Taylor Swift dropped her newest album, 1989 and my girls, like millions of other girls, are agog over it. Rather than plug into it from their iPhones, they chose to sing from memory. Given how new the album was, they hadn’t exactly memorized the tunes yet. I got a kick out of listening to them singing aloud and correcting each other and saying which song was the best and their favorite and so on.
The music industry maybe in shambles but some things never change. When a superstar like Taylor Swift releases a new album the world listens –at least the world of young women. From what I understand she’s sold over a million copies in the first few days, way more by now. Pretty freaking amazing. Like her and her music or not, you’ve got to give the gal props. She knows what she’s doing. She has for years. My God, she’s not even 25!
Swiftly went Platinum…
After a while of listening to my kids singing a-cappella, I asked one to play the album from her phone. I don’t have blue tooth so we listened to it straight from the iPhone’s tiny speaker. It sounded like crap but that didn’t matter. My girls were in heaven.
Anyway, the whole thing reminded me of when I was 16 and one of my favorite bands put out a new album. I was all over it. Just like my girls in the back seat. My friends and I would gather in our bedrooms and crank these new discs until our ears bled. Doodling the bands’ logos or cover art icons onto our notebooks, hands, tee shirts and walls. Passionately arguing over which song was best and whether this album was better than the last or better than the other guy’s favorite album. Who was the greater guitarist? Which concert kicked more ass.
Wait a minute. Who am I kidding? I’m still the same dude! A couple weeks prior, U2 released their newest album, Songs of Innocence and I’ve been listening to it non-stop. Granted, that’s only when I am running or biking but I do that a lot. Songs of Innocence has been in constant rotation. Critics be damned, I think it’s a great album. When it’s not playing I catch myself singing lyrics from it all the time, the same way my girls do with Ms. Swift’s latest.
I woke up at the moment
When the miracle occurred
Heard a song that made some sense
Out of the world
Everything I ever lost
Now has been returned
In the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard
U2 – The Miracle Of Joey Ramone (from Songs of Innocence)
Rather than get into a critique of U2 or Taylor Swift, I would like to just pause here and revel in the fact that my children and I have this great thing in common: The love of music, of singing out loud, bastardizing the lyrics, comparing and contrasting, waiting for the concert. Being alive. It’s a good thing in a world that needs more of them.