When I was a young, my parents and I had reversed musical interests.
I listened to their record collection, while they bought the latest Top 40 CDs.
At the time my mother was listening to Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy With It” and Right Said Fred’s “I Have No Idea What the Album is Called Nor Do I Care”, I was mesmerized by the 15th anniversary release of Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” and buying as many over-sized glasses and sequiny jumpers to fulfill my fantasy of being Elton John circa 1972 (this was at a time in my life when my mother once asked me if I was gay while sitting in a parked car in front of a Subway restaurant).
In high school, I would play my Mom’s Zappa records while I laid on the basement floor, imaging her doing the same thing at my age in 1967. Right when I was at the point having a completely fictional LSD trip, she would kill my buzz by shouting, “Wow, I can’t believe I actually listened to that crap.”
I’d make my parents recollect their stories of seeing Hendrix, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, all while bugging me to score them tickets to see John Mayer at whatever closest uber-dome there was (John Mayer + Parents is a whole another blog post in itself).
In my mind new music was nothing but a bunch of young hacks trying to emulate their idols. My parents, having already heard the idols, were now looking for something fresh and new.
It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles in 2004 and discovered the radio station Indie 103.1 that I realized there was decent music created after the year 2000 (music from ’90’s is still a black void for me- this usually causes incredulous looks from men born between the years 1970 and 1983).
I started light: Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Wolf Parade. Then I moved to Austin and got made fun of for liking these bands.
I had to step it up a notch.
Now I’ve learned to make fun of the people who like Bloc Party, Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and Wolf Parade (all the while still loving all of them).
Through the years as my parents and I have navigated in circles with our choices in music. Recently, I wanted to see if we managed to reach a meeting point. While on holiday break I went through the list of indie bands popular in 2008 and 2009 to see if they dug the same music that my peers currently dig.
These are my parents thoughts:
Phoenix– Dad gave a 4, Mom gave an 8. Maybe this why they are divorced. Dad thought they were not original, too simple. Mom thought they sounded “not so freakin‘ depressing like everything else you listen to, Lauren.”
Animal Collective– Dad gave an 8, Mom gave it a 4. I honestly can’t remember what my parents said about this band. I think my father liked the Beach Boys element to them. Mom just thought it was confusing.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros– Dad gave it a 4, Mom gave it a 4. Both my parents seem to collectively HATE this band. Which is surprising considering how old school they sound. Dad thought they sounded like the band who performed the “Raw Hide” theme, Mom thought they sounded like Johnny Cash and June Carter. I’m from Upstate NY so no Cash and Carter were ever played in my house growing up. Only disco music and prog rock ten years too late.
Kings of Convenience– Dad gave it an 8. Didn’t play for Mom. I knew my Dad was going to like this. In fact, it was the first band I played him. You get horns and a piano and you give your parents an instant music boner.
Grizzly Bear– Dad gave it a 5, Mom gave it a 4. Guess my parents don’t agree with critics on this one. Well, anyone who bought Right Said Fred’s album obviously doesn’t care what critics think.
Beach House– Dad gave it a 7, Mom gave it an 8. Both parents enjoyed the lazy, hazy atmosphere of both Victoria Legand’s voice and the songs themselves.
The Knife/Fever Ray– Dad gave it a 5, Mom didn’t listen to. I thought this was a shoe-in for Pops. He really loves the band Enigma (and not just “Return to Innocence”…he actually likes whole albums…can you believe that?) “I just can’t get past her voice,” my father said. “She sounds like Abba.” Later, we came across her acceptance speech at that Swedish award show and he then decided that he was in love with her because she reminded him of a “Twilight Zone” episode.
Passion Pit– Dad didn’t listen to, Mom gave an 8. Again, this comes into the “Depressing vs. Non-depressing” category. Mom thinks Passion Pit is not depressing therefore they deserve an 8 for no other reason. This is when I realized that my mother was feigning interest in my experiment and just gave out 4’s for depressing and 8’s for non-depressing music.
M83– Dad gave an 8, didn’t play for Mom. This is one that Dad and I both got. When he’d come visit me in LA, we’d turn off all the lights and blare, “Saturday=Youth” while listening to the traffic below my apartment in Koreatown. Chances are Mom would consider this “amazingly depressing” and politely ask me to put Jamiroquai on instead.
Arcade Fire– Neither parent will score this band. They both know I used to really dig this band. Father would pretend to be interested, but finally told me last week that he thinks they suck and he’s been protecting me from his feelings all along. I would put “Funeral” or “Neon Bible” on while visiting Mom for holiday and every time she would say, “This sounds like funeral music. Turn it off.” Then I would comment back with, “That’s funny because this album is called “Funeral”, Mom.” Then she would start ranting about putting her Jason Mraz playlist on Pandora and I would go to my room and slam the door just like I did in high school.