Elmo never sang in my car. Not even once. No Barney, no Wiggles, no Dora, the Explorer “Dance Fiesta.” After 400 consecutive sleepless nights, courtesy of my kids, I just couldn’t overwhelm my senses more than they already had been. And there’s just not enough coffee to get you through 20 miles of “Elmo’s Lowdown Hoedown.”
So, I played grown-up music for my kids, some of it rather kid-friendly, such as The Partridge Family, and the rest decidedly grown-up, like my father’s Benny Goodman CD’s. As a result, my younger son’s favorite singer was and still is Frank Sinatra, as shown in this video I made when the kids were little and my hair was blond: That’s Life.
Eventually, Chris took to popular music, thanks in part to American Idol and my Bruce Springsteen CD’s. But Nicholas did not. He much prefers Bach to Bruce and Chopin to Coldplay, which is why my car radio now has a button dedicated to New York City’s only classical radio station. When Nick is in the car, that’s what we listen to, except when they’re playing opera. That’s when he switches to the jazz station.
The other buttons, he refuses to touch. As far as he’s concerned, they play music that’s sub-par. (“It’s just three chords, Mom.” Sigh. It’s like my father in a sixth grader’s body.)
So my role in downloading songs to Nick’s new iPod the other night had nothing to do with censoring explicit lyrics like other parents have to do. There’s nothing explicit about Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and Beethoven never rapped about “ho’s.” Rather, I was simply his tech support, because when it came to selecting music, I proved rather useless to him.
First he chose “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” which I recognized from commercials for Harry Potter movies. Then he asked me to download a few more famous classical tunes, including “Hungarian Rhapsody.”
“Omi has this on her music box,” he informed me.
“Well, she’s Hungarian, so that makes sense,” I answered. Then I clicked on the button that lets you hear a sample of the song, and immediately I felt like I was 10-years-old again, eating Lucky Charms from the box on my parents couch. I hesitated to confess what I was thinking to Nick, but I decided to anyhow:
“You know where I know this from?” I asked. And then I showed him this:
In fact, much of what I know about classical music and jazz, I learned from Bugs Bunny. The rest came from Tom & Jerry. I had admitted this once publicly before, but then I was sheepishly admitting it to my father. This time, though, I’d face my son with the apparently disappointing news that his mother’s knowledge of life’s finer music was derived from Saturday morning cartoons.
He laughed through the Bugs Bunny cartoon, but when it was over, he looked at me with something between pity and that look that middle schoolers give you when you’ve gone an embarrassed them — again. Duh, Mom. So, I tried to save face.
“Hey, how about some Haydn?” I asked. “You liked that when we heard it in that concert at the church last year.”
He brightened, and then nodded. We searched through some Haydn selections, but he didn’t find anything he liked (nor did I find anything that reminded me of Daffy Duck.) He picked some Mozart and Beethoven, and soon, we called it a day.
I heard him playing his tunes on his iPod the other night, and it took all of my effort to refrain from tapping him on the shoulder and asking, “What’s up, doc?” I’ll save that for the next time we download his music.