Tuned OutNov 1st, 2011 | By admin | Category: Alison Lebovitz, In Every Issue
by Alison Lebovitz.
It’s been a long time since I took my driver’s test, but for some reason I don’t recall there being a section of either the written or practical part that prepares you for the one skill that every parent must ultimately learn to perfect – the ability to drive and DJ at the same time.
Yes, no matter where we are going or how long we happen to be in the car, my children will constantly command that I change the channel, or suggest that I switch the song or cry out, “For the love of Lady Gaga, we cannot stand listening to that 80’s station for one more minute!” So, I spend half my time navigating the roads and the other half navigating the airwaves for something we can all agree upon. And the latter is not as easy as it sounds. That’s mainly because the songs we typically agree upon are rare finds amongst the songs that I have forbidden them to listen to. Call me crazy, but I don’t think a seven, nine or eleven year old should be singing lyrics like, “Girl, look at that body,” or “You make me feel like I’m livin’ a teenage dream.” (I know, a bit hypocritical coming from a woman who spent her formative years listening to Meatloaf and Madonna.)
So the basic formula is this: I drive and DJ, while the boys dictate their demands, and the whole situation turns into a frenetic game of Frogger, except instead of dodging cars and trucks I am avoiding Snoop Dogg and Katy Perry.
Music has always been an important part of my life. My first concert was Mac Davis in 1975. I was five years old and spent the entire show dancing in the aisle, convinced he was singing just for me. When I was in elementary school I got my first real stereo that played cassette tapes and records and I spent hours in my room dancing to Donna Summer and the other disco divas. In middle school and high school I would use that same stereo system to make millions of “mix tapes.” Mix tapes were my life. Unlike today’s playlist that can be effortlessly and instantly created in a matter of minutes, the mix tape was a time-consuming, hands-on, personal investment that required the utmost patience and perfection.
I took my first boom box to college, and during my junior year these things called “CDs” came out and music as we knew it would never be the same. It was crisp and clear and simple to store, and you could easily skip over songs or repeat the ones you loved over and over and over again. It was revolutionary.
But even though the methods of playing music have changed over time, my love and need for music has been a constant. Bands that I longed for and listened to when I was 12 – like U2, The Police, Prince, and Queen – are still the ones on my iPod today. I have found new bands to love and lose along the way, and try to remain open to the possibility that the music my kids listen to this week may very well be the music they choose to listen to when they are my age. Of course, I still remind them that just because you’ve got the moves like Jagger, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can sing like him.
And every so often, when none of us can agree on a single song on the radio, I plug in my iPod, pull up my own playlist and then proceed to reminisce about each song we hear. This is from the first album I ever bought; This is from the concert I went to on my 21st birthday; This is the only song I ever sang on a stage in front of an audience. I then say to my kids, “I want you to understand that all of these songs have meaning and memories attached to them. When I listen to them it’s like I am back in that time and place all over again. Does that make sense?” And they stare at me and for a moment they are quiet. And for that moment I am convinced they actually get it. And then inevitably one of them lets out a sigh and says, “That’s great, Mom. Can we listen to our music now?”
And on that note, the request line is open once again.