Thursday, August 07, 2008

Setting the tune

The other day my son asked if I had heard the new song called Sweet Home Alabama. Hearing in my mind the opening chord of 's classic song (..."turn it up"), I said that the song was probably 20 or more years old. He assured me he heard a new song, possibly a cover of the original I was thinking, and I told him I'd keep an ear out for it.

Keep in mind; he and mom are Country Music fans, through and through. There are a few songs from that genre I find worthy, so much of it is just background noise to me (see prior posts). When I drive alone, I generally have talk radio on, because my taste in rock n' roll is tough to find on the dial these days. In the '70s it was called AOR, or Album Oriented Rock.... The kind of songs that never fit into the stereotypical three minute format found on the Pop music stations (pretty much most of the AM dial in those days). As Billy Joel opined:

I am the entertainer, I've come to do my show
You've heard my latest record spin on the radio
Oh, it took me years to write it, they were the best years of my life
It was a beautiful song but it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit you gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05

But my tastes in performers covers a lot of ground: you'll find CDs in my collection ranging from to to to to . And even , whose earlier material spanned Rock, Rap, Country and Southern Rock (Side note: I really would appreciate a satellite radio, but can't justify one).

So over the weekend my 12 year old and I were in the car listening to a Country station -- as I said I don't care for it, but it's pretty much a default setting when I am in the car with either him or mom - when suddenly we heard the opening piano chords of what I thought was 's classic Werewolves of London (listen)- especially odd to hear on a Country station in August (maybe in late October, perhaps, but not otherwise).

My son exclaimed: That's it, that's Sweet Home Alabama! Before I could tell him otherwise, I was surprised to hear lyrics I was unfamiliar with:

It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long
Caught somewhere between a boy and man
She was seventeen and she was far from in-between
It was summertime in Northern Michigan

Splashing through the sand bar, talking by the campfire
It's the simple things in life, like when and where
We didn't have no Internet but man I never will forget
The way the moonlight shined upon her hair

And we were trying different things, we were smoking funny things
Making love out by the lake to our favorite song
Sipping whiskey out the bottle, not thinking 'bout tomorrow
Singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long ...
Singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long

At first I was a little annoyed at someone so obviously lifting the tune from Zevon's song -- it was not at all unlike how a great many felt when Vanilla Ice swiped the melody from the David Bowie / Queen tune Under Pressure. But then I heard the chorus and finally understood why he called it Sweet Home Alabama. The tune is catchy, to say the least, and certainly worth a listen.

Ironically, while it played in the car I didn't know who wrote/recorded it (obviously, you can tell now by looking at the player above). I told my son that this song reminded me of a Kid Rock song where he paid homage to Lynard Skynard by singing never wanted a guitar 'till I heard a lick like this ... and then played the famous riff from Freebird.

It wasn't until after All Summer Long finished did we learn it was also a Kid Rock song. Not surprisingly, at that moment my son suddenly became interested in Kid Rock, and asked if I had any of his CDs.

"Well, yeah, I have 2 in fact" came my reply. But you're not going to listen to them.

This is where I have to use that infamous line of parents Do what I say, not as I do, or in this case: don't listen to the same music that I like. I try to set a good example for my kids, but clearly my preferences in music are not something I can easily share with them.

Case in point, the line I referred to just before came from Kid Rock's 2002 disc, Cocky, and the tune is called You Never Met a Motherf______ Quite Like Me.

Oh yeah, I want to hear him humming that tune around the house! If you've never heard the tune and you're at all curious, CMT (that's Country Music TV) has a dubbed version of all Kid Rock's songs/videos, and specifically You Never... here. I doubt very much whether CMT would ever play that tune on the cable station, but they do play his more mainstream tunes, like Picture (listen), because, lets face it, Kid's got talent.

As a side note, I generally tend to dislike artists who gratuitously embed their own name in their songs - does anyone else remember the eponymous In a Big Country? Nah, I didn't think so...

However, most of Kid Rock's stuff has him referring to himself by name frequently (case in point: You Never .... is practically an autobiography). The man has talent, and he knows it, and thus the disc titled Cocky is not a stretch at all. And while I like a lot of Kid's work, I prefer most of the less braggadocios tunes, myself.

And Kid Rock, by far, is not the only artist in my collection that I'd have problems with sharing, nor only music: I have over a dozen CDs of , whose comedy I'd love to share with him, but I withhold because while I am certain he's probably had at least a passing acquaintance with at least some of the (listen here), I can't readily sit down and endorse them for him, at least at age 12. On the other hand, like All Summer Long, he enjoys Carlin's Baseball and Football (listen here) which is perfectly clean and even my father enjoys hearing.

Add to it most anything put out by Pink Floyd, and you can see where I have troubles sharing my CD collection (never mind my vinyl, but that's another post altogether).

As a kid, I was the youngest of four brothers, so I was exposed to, much of which our parents wouldn't have approved of any of us listening. So while I don't want to deprive my son of any of the musical spectrum I enjoy, at the same I have to maintain a certain separation.

To date, we've been able to moderate his movies, but there's another media that will be shared with him, sooner or later.

There's going to be a time when MBH and I are going to be surprised, shocked, whatever, at a tune/movie he's made his favorite, and when that time comes I'll have to deal with it. But at that time I'll also have a certain, almost secret pleasure of knowing there's something more I can share with him.

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