Thursday, October 4, 2007

Musical Youth

About 5 years ago, I was hanging around with my brother and my youngest sister, who was 15 at the time (I was 37). She is wary of discussing popular music and culture with me and my brother and older sister (who's actually younger than me, by one year, but I refer to her as my older sister to distinguish her to my listener from my much younger sister. Also, it pisses her off) because pointing out that a song she likes is a cover of something we heard for the first time in high school, or that George Clooney was on "Roseanne" when she was a baby is one of our favorite games, and she's over us. Anyway, an Aerosmith song (the one from the movie...the movie with Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck) came on the radio...she inadvertently blurted out "I like Aerosmith", then immediately said "and yes, I KNOW that they've been around since like 1990 or whatever." I almost felt bad for her while we were doubled over laughing, wiping away tears, my brother pointing out between gasps for air that the 1990 songs were the comeback tour for Aerosmith, who had actually been around since he was in diapers. Tee hee.
Anyway, I can relive that moment almost daily, thanks to the fact that I'm married to the child of immigrant parents. My husband arrived in the United States at age 3 and could not be more American. He can speak Korean, but can't read or write it, having been educated here. He's a police officer, football fan, wisecracker, guy's guy. But he had absolutely no exposure to American popular music until he discovered it on his own, at age 11 or 12. His parents, like many Koreans of their generation, have no interest in music other than classical. My husband grew up with Mozart and Bach, not the Beatles and Neil Diamond. He didn't sing along to oldies or top 40 on AM radio in his parents' car. He didn't hear Johnny Cash or Patsy Cline at his grandparents' on the weekends. Much of American popular music prior to 1982 or so (he's a little younger than me) is a mystery to him. He was stunned when I told him that the Fiona Apple song that he liked, from the Pleasantville soundtrack, was actually a Beatles classic ("no way...are you serious?"). So I could not WAIT yesterday for him to find the song he was looking for on iTunes. He'd seen "Anchorman" on DVD with his sister and her boyfriend, and there was a song on the soundtrack that he wanted to hear again. I was smirking, and he said "no, I know what you're thinking, but this is a new song, I'm sure of it...I've TOTALLY never heard it" (yeah, and you had TOTALLY never heard "Across the Universe" until Fiona Apple covered it....). And then I heard it:
"Carry on my wayward son
There'll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don't you cry no more..."
Nope, never heard it, not even once, and he has XM in his car. He Googled Kansas, just to make sure I wasn't messing with his head (I do it to my sister all the time..."oh my gosh, Bob Dylan wrote "Chariot" before Gavin DeGraw was even born". She never falls for it, but a good time is had by me.) This is as endearing and charming to me as it is funny, but do wish his taste was more consistent. Discovering the Beatles for the first time...great. Discovering Kansas...maybe not so much. (I'm one to talk here, since my iTunes list includes many things that can be described only as cheesy).

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