Tag Archives: Brian Wilson

This Song was made for You and Me

28 Nov

Have you any idea how depressing it is when The Boy asks if the recording artists to whom I listen are still alive?

As in: “Is Tom Petty still alive?”  (Although The Boy really only likes “American Girl.”  He, too, was raised on promises.)

“What about Bob Dylan?  Is he still alive?  And, hey- weren’t you at that Bob Dylan tribute concert in the 1990’s?  The one where George Harrison and Eric Clapton played at Madison Square Garden?  Are they still alive?  And how old are they now?  And how old are you?”

If you hang out with your kid long enough, eventually you will round a musical corner together into “The Dead Zone”- that random shuffle where the iPod serves up a bunch of great music by artists who are no longer living: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Johnny Cash, Sid Vicious, Patsy Cline, a Beastie Boy for crying out loud- whereupon The Boy begins to understand why he sometimes has difficulty relating to his peers.

Even though I am just as wonderful now as I was then, my music may, in some circles, be perceived as retro, vintage or… old.  Even worse- old and bad.   (Although “White Castle fries only come in one size” is an eternal truth wrapped in an awesome riff.  And it rhymes.)

And maybe I have done The Boy a disservice by refusing to allow “kid’s music” to be played during his formative years.  No Wiggles or Barney or Disney soundtracks here.  (Disclaimer: “Bare Necessities” from Disney’s Jungle Book is not only an awesome song, it is a manifesto for life.  Besides being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, this track has been covered by Los Lobos, Brian Wilson and Louis Armstrong all of whom can be found on my iPod and only one of whom is deceased.)  Ironic that I once contemplated becoming a paw paw farmer.

As disservices go, I confess that I also fed The Boy mashed potatoes with truffle oil as one of his first solid foods.  So that pretty much rules out cafeteria bonding among classmates.

On the other hand, I am an expert at being me and at being me raising a kid in this moment.  (In the movie of my life, I am portrayed by Jenna Elfman and The Boy is a chocolate Lab.)  Anything else is as false as Rascal Flatts playing “country.”

Which brings us to my favorite musical category (yes; we’ve been heading somewhere all along): The “I’m Not Sure” Selections.  In music as in life: I don’t know.

Here is where we find Neil Young, Dr. John, BB King, Buddy Guy and the like.  “Are they still alive?”  I don’t know.

They ought to be.  They ought to live forever.  But I don’t make the rules- I barely follow them; it’s a daily struggle to hide my disdain for them.  But if I did make the rules, know this: David Crosby would totally have to fork over an organ, any organ, should Neil Young ever need one.

Listen Boy, not that this helps and I know you didn’t ask, but I have also had difficulty with relationships.  Mostly because there’s the outside- which is chronological age, height, weight, growth, etc. and there’s the inside.  Some days I feel 100 years old and other days I feel more like 5.  Such a range makes “peer” a tough word to define.  (Hint: at any age, a peanut butter sandwich and a nap will make everything better.)

And remember this: never, ever, do I appear older than 29.

Brian Wilson is my Co-Pilot

19 Sep

Ever since The Boy became old enough to sit in the passenger seat, he has controlled the music we listen to on our morning commute.  His taste is outstanding-from Wagner to The White Stripes-his choices are often awesome.

Except for his most recent selection.  Some things you should know:

a.  I am not a morning person.

b.  I have nothing against Brian Wilson.  In fact, I think that he and I have a lot in common: we both should (and I know I do) hate Mike Love.

c.  “SMiLE, ” the Brian Wilson CD that The Daily Telegraph claims is full of “groundbreaking complexity and sophistication” does not sound good at 7:30 in the morning.  I’m not sure that I would enjoy this groundbreaking complexity at any time (nor with a fox nor on some rocks) but I will say, without question, “SMiLE” is not meant for the early morning-rush to school-commute.  I am not meant for the early commute either, but somehow I manage it.  Martyrdom yes.  Mornings, no.

I’m sure that the record makes sense on a million levels: artistically, mathematically, scientifically and all those other genius things that go on inside Brian Wilson’s head but as wake up and focus music goes, it sucks.  There are oddball flats and diminished chords that hurt my eyes and make my back ache as I drive and attempt to teach road etiquette to The Boy: “don’t flip the bird at the cop; keep it below the window where he can’t see.  It feels just as rewarding and you avoid the hassle of getting pulled over.  Think before you flip, Boy,” and so on.  Ah, a mother’s wisdom.

What “SMiLE” does excel at, however, is inducing road rage.

d.  “Road Rage” first appeared in the OED in 1990.

I have discovered that if I drive with “SMiLE,” merely playing in the background, The Boy and I arrive at school as many as 7 minutes earlier than usual and by the time I get home, I am anxious to fix all that’s wrong with the world (or at least tell everyone on Facebook exactly what the world’s problems are).  Bonus: my teeth grind like a busted transmission and I have neither consumed extra calories nor spent money on a Starbucks Espresso Macchiato.

All the bonding time that we are spending; it’s like every drive is never-ending.  Not nice at all.

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