Car Tunes

We could probably mark the eras of our own families’ histories by the music on heavy rotation in the car.

We all start out in the I’m Still a Person and They’re Too Young to Understand Anyway Phase, when we play whatever it is that makes us feel young and unencumbered while our babies sleep in bucket seats behind us. This came to an end in our circle of friends when our daughters came home from preschool singing enthusiastically, “Slap that thang, get it on the floor. Slap that thang, gimme some more.” (No, I’m not making that up. And, no, that cannot be traced to my car.)

In our family, the Pete Seeger Era came next. His four-disc set of American folk ballads provided months of family sing-along opportunities, with “John Henry,” “Jimmy Crack Corn,” and “This Land is Your Land.” But we found ourselves diving for the fast-forward button for the more-than-occasional murder ballad. Man, those old folk singers loved the blood and gore. We finally had to remove disc four from rotation altogether: too much of pretty Polly getting her head crushed on a rock down by the river.

About this time the kids discovered television and we indulged them with the “Backyardigans” soundtrack. I remember this period in our car-music history somewhat like a teen romance: At first I perked up at the first notes of “Racing Day” and sang along wholeheartedly with “Astronauts Never Give Up.” After a few months of giving it my all, however, my passion quelled and I started stewing silently, wishing that Pablo would just grow up already.

Recently, we started experimenting with playing our own music in the car again, over the objections of the musical tyrants in the back seat. I believe our first try was a college-era disc by the Gear Daddies. Now there’s some hard-driving rock-and-roll that should get a 5- and a 7-year-old up and dancing (figuratively) in their booster seats. Oh, wait, chorus full of swears in that one. Skip. And, ooh, that’s a rather cynical portrayal of relationships, don’t you think? Skip. Nope, not that one either. Way too young for the angst.

Hey, who wants to listen to Clementown?

(Clementown, by the way, is a musical project put together by a Minneapolis mom and dad. Read all about them and other parents who rock on page 12.)

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