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.