Monday, October 09, 2006

Innocent Music

(How'd this one escape the archives?)

Warning to diabetics! This post is rich in treacle and poor in musical taste (or knowledge). Proceed at your own risk.

"Daddy, what's this cd?"

"Put it in sweetie, tell me what you think."

Keifus grooves, junior observes, thinking.

"Do you like the sound of it," I ask.

"Kind of. Actually, it's a little scary."

And she's right I suppose, though I might have gone with angry as the adjective of choice. If you asked me ten years ago (back when I meant to buy the cd), I'd have argued that you'd need a certain measure of seething anger--need to know just how much to direct inward and just how much to send out--to really appreciate that sort of music. I wish like hell I could tell you what does it--it seems like the same old three or four chords, if ordered a bit differently. I can see how unexpected progressions could prick the hackles and all, but maybe it's just the powerful and wavering vocals and the heavy guitars. My daughter evidently gets some of the emotion however, and rejects that sense of menace for now. Good for her.

"Daddy, I'd rather listen to that bluegrass cd.**" (G, C, and D again, but now in happier progressions.) So we do. I practice rhythm as the kids dance around. It's cute, and it's maybe the best fun I've had all week.

But it's a funny thing. We didn't used to need fun music to catch the mood. It was anything with a beat and a melody. We were never a Raffi family, and we didn't shield the children from stuff we enjoyed. Keifus got moody and pretentious and my wife had a penchant for the mellower moodiness of Vietnam-era tunes: Paul McCartney and Buffalo Springfield and Creedence sort of thing.

Six or seven years ago, when she was little, my daughter and I would dance around together to heavy guitar riffs, at her request, because she knew I liked them. She'd groove along with me to the brooding strums, and we'd both be grinning, finding the modicum of joy that's the kernel of any artistic release. It was a pure thing in its way.

But no more. She's growning an appreciation of context.*** She still prefers the simpler pleasures, as you'd hope a child would, but now she needs the pleasurable cues to help her access them.

Ah well, there's a lot of life to learn yet, and she will. And even though her tastes are innocent now, I already miss the days when they were innocent enough to listen to angry rock and dance to it with Daddy.


**Note that she doesn't mean the good bluegrass--I can't even play their rhythm fast enough--but rather the play-along garbage that wifey bought to learn the fiddle during her quarterly musical inspiration. It's very frustrating stuff, actually. It's just the right speed so that the bare melody they play is dreadfully boring, but playing fills or solos is just north of my speed limit.

*** I drive the kid nuts telling her that she's not allowed to watch certain TV programming until she can tell me convincingly that she knows what irony means. She's closer than she thinks

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