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The other day our family had a Top Songs of the 90s show on in the background. My husband and I kept an ear open as they counted down to number one, laughing at songs we couldn’t believe we ever listened to, wondering if our favorites would make the list, all the time betting on number one. And when the song I had my money on came on, I ran in to the living room to watch the video for Smells Like Teen Spirit for what could be the hundredth time.

All three kids ran in after me. Feet lifted off the ground as everyone began to jump in unison. Hair flying, elbows up, swaying against each other in the low parts, jumping in a frenzy during the chorus, we formed a living room mosh pit. “JUMP OFF THE COFFEE TABLE AND WE’LL CATCH YOU!!!!” someone yelled.

Yeah, it was me.

A lot of people I know can’t fathom why I encourage moshing in the living room to the music of a man that lived and died in a way that didn’t go with what society deems acceptable. Why I gleefully shaved my son’s hair into a mohawk when he asked, getting up twenty minutes early every morning to arrange it into rock hard spikes and then gel dye it colours.

Why do I let them all listen to something other than Raffi?! Isn’t this what you’re supposed to AVOID!? I don’t believe so, and even if I did I don’t think I could push them the other way if I tried. I have a theory that music permeates every aspect of your life, from your style to your friends, and you pass it on to your kids.

I have already talked about my Mom and her “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” musical preferences. It was my Dad though that gave me my taste in music. He would rock me every night and I can remember him pressing my head to his chest and singing “Jesus Loves Me” in the lowest  tone ever. Then when he ran out of lullabys I would get the goods: “Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. ”  And in the daytime I’d ride sidecar on his tractor and get my personal favorite: “Pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue….”  In fact one of my fondest childhood memories is of the time my parents took me to see Willie in concert. I was four. I passed out. It was the BEST.

As I got older music stayed important to me. I went through the same boy band phase as everyone else but it was in the 90s where I would find my way through the music of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins. Growing up in this era saved my life, surrounded by a movement that said it was okay to be different (shut up hippies, I know you did it first). Wrapped in plaid flannel I’d toss on my Dad’s old pants with a pair of Docs and head in to town to smoke stolen cigarettes and talk about music with friends. It was everything we were and you could easily tell who listened to what based on how they dressed. But no matter if you were punk or grunge we all lined up every weekend to sit inside an abandoned store a friend had inherited from his Dad and re-purposed to host shows. Pressed together in a mosh pit, or huddled on the floor smoking, it was safe and we were happy.

It secretly thrills me that my sons have inherited my music identity (my daughter on the other hand likes Rob Zombie and Metallica…. side eye to my husband). I love to plug them in to ear phones at night to listen to their favorite Johnny Cash , I love impromptu mosh pits and the songs they accept as their personal lullabys or silly songs. I love that they stomp around in my Docs, wear Chucks because they want to, and have the confidence to wear their hair spiked and dyed and however the hell they want, really. But most of all I know  that no matter what they choose (yes, even a starched collar) I can trust them to be who they want, and listen to what they want, know music is important, and invest in good quality headphones rather then have me ask them to turn it down. And when a friend shows up to the door with a face full of metal and freshly bleached hair I won’t shut down their plans to go to a show and automatically assume they’re up to no good because I can’t discern lyrics and it all sounds like screeching!? (“Are those people in PAIN!?” ~ My Dad in the 90s.)
And yeah, when the time comes I’ll totally lend them my pants. Just PLEASE don’t effing wear them backwards.

 

~Joelynne

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  1. June 22, 2012

    ah yes the backwards pants. kris kross will make ya. JUMP JUMP!
    love this post.
    i give my hubby the sideways eyes for the metallica too. :)

  2. June 22, 2012

    I severely enjoyed this post! I couldn’t agree more. Plus, when people try to hold you back from something as influential as music, it seems to reinforce your idea that this IS good music. Example, in the early 90s my mother told me I couldn’t listen to Korn. To this day I still jam out to follow the leader.

    Great post!

  3. June 22, 2012

    Try having a husband who likes both Pearl Jam and the Wu-Tang Clan and then we’ll talk sideways eyes ;) Seriously, if my kids didn’t like my music when they were little, I would have cried. Luckily, I got to hear my then little 2-year-olds sing the Cranberries “Zombie” in sweet, sweet unison.

  4. June 22, 2012

    I’m enjoying watching my girls turn into teens and really unleashing their musical tastes. One has a taste for all things indie and Iggy Pop and weird old stuff (Syd Barrett), and the other is always pulls out Abba and Queen when we go on long drives and has a taste for show tunes. Their tastes overlap in a lot of places too. I should warn you though — they both went through periods of rejecting everything we taught them was cool and trying really hard to like what everyone at school liked. Then they came back having formed their own tastes and having learned to incorporate them into what they grew up with.

  5. June 22, 2012

    My daughter has inherited my husbands taste in music, her vast and abiding love of LMFAO says it clear as day. But in all seriousness, it kind of makes my deviant heart smile to see my two year old scream “SORRY FOR PARTY ROCKING!” with a giant smile on her face between over the top head banging.

  6. June 22, 2012

    Yes! I grew up in the same era and often whine about how I want the 90’s back. I still hold my ideal that The Bends is the best album of all fucking time.

  7. krow10 #
    June 22, 2012

    Hank Williams and Hank III. Fuck Jr. Johnny Cash kicks ass. Bad Brains & Black Flag. As for the kids — the girl can hang, but I suspect the boy will follow his own path. I can respect the oxblood docs.

  8. June 22, 2012

    I was such a punk wannabe. I shaved the side of my head but out of respect for my mother, I left a huge chunk to cover it up if need be. I still melt when I hear Morrissey. My eldest mancub has eclectic taste, my youngest is a Beatles freak and Bean? Oh man, that boy has some rippin\’ musical taste. Lots of Brit craziness. Arctic Monkeys, Razorlight and then throw in Elton. LOVE HIM! ;)

  9. June 22, 2012

    My parents were all classical almost all of the time – exceptions were my mother’s fierce devotion to musicals and my dad’s to Leadbelly and old folk songs. My brother loved competing against my dad on car trips – who could name that musical piece first. I was a total changeling – I started with top 40s radio, then rock, then new wave, ska, punk. We try to expose our kids to a lot, and it’s funny how the girl has liked it loud and rocking since she was in diapers. The other day she asked me to replay The Kids Are Alright in the car and my momma-heart swelled a little. The boy has always preferred his music sweeter and more melodic. Nature or nurture, who knows.

    • June 23, 2012

      Oh goodness, you’re not alone. That would make my little mamma heart swell with pride as well.

  10. June 24, 2012

    Love this post!!
    Totally with you, I want my kids to be able to listen to whatever they like, there will be no judgement from me.
    The 90s was the best time to grow up in, I still have my DM’s and a very large collection of festival tickets.
    (Vanessa I totally agree The Bends is the best f-ing album ever!!)

  11. June 25, 2012

    I am from a different era but can relate to this. I grew up with a musical dad, who played guitar. Yes, I am an old hippie, but love all kinds of music, still!

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