Monday, July 22, 2019

Musical Roadtrip

Buffalo, New York
There’s an Onion article people like to post on my Facebook page with the headline, Cool Dad Raising Daughter On Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out Of Touch With Her Generation. It came out eight years ago, folks think that just because I like to lecture them about how stupid their taste in music is that I am the kind of parent who schools his own children on what’s hip.

This is not true. My children have their own taste and quite often they are educating me. My friends on Facebook, however, have wasted their pathetic lives on garbage music, and I am doing what friends do. I am trying to help them.

As schedules panned out this summer, I would be driving one child up while my wife flies with the other. Then we switch -- children, that is. I will drive the other and she will fly.

Do I mind driving both ways? Heavens, no. I have developed a healthy aversion to air travel and really like to road. And hotels and dining in unique, interesting restaurants.

The boy, age fourteen, likes music. He plays the drums and bass (stand up, and electric) and listens to his phone. When he hears a song that interests him on the radio, he will look it up on Spotify and add it to a massive playlist of all of his favorite songs.

And that’s the thing. Like a lot of kids his age (though certainly not all) he doesn’t own copies of music. He has no CD player, he has a speaker for his phone, though he prefers earbuds. He does not subscribe to a premium channel, so when he does listen to playlists they are broken up with ads, and when he listens to “albums” he’s actually hearing it shuffled up, often with other “related” songs dropped in. And more ads.

So, my plan was to pull together a collection of CDs to listen on the trip -- entire albums, played all the way through. He gave me a list to get from the library, I chose several from my collections, and we would go back and forth, choosing albums.

The trip was much more exciting, if somewhat disturbing in places, and he rarely looked at his phone the entire trip, which I take as a major victory.

In every single case, whether we were listening to his choice or mine, these were albums he had never listened to all the way through before. Here they are, presented in the order we listened to them, accompanied by brief commentary. He’s O, I am D.

Saturday, Cleveland to Syracuse

The Cure: Disintegration
O: Funky, psychedelic jam band. Weird. There were few lyrics, leaving more space for music.

Pup: Morbid Stuff
D: Surprised it was such much about relationships. Triumphal, yet aggressively emotional.

De La Soul: De La Soul Is Dead
O: Inspired, they had so much to say about the people who misunderstood them.

System of a Down (eponymous)
D: Intense, tight, and dramatic. Old school pun and metal.
O: The first five songs are bangers.

Barenaked Ladies: Gordon
O: They seem like funny guys.
D: Some day I need to write a paper about this album. It won’t be pretty.

Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom
O: It’s weird and funky and the drum beats are cool and it’s very musical and the bass is fantastic.

Sunday, Syracuse to Friendship

Ben Folds Five: Whatever and Ever Amen
O: The guy who wrote Dear Evan Hansen listened to a lot of Ben Folds.

Eminem: The Marshall Mathers LP
O: He straight up says what he doesn’t like about things.

Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
D: This is where my education began.
O: My dad grew up in Bay Village.

Rage Against the Machine (eponymous)
D: Still painfully relevant. Paul Ryan is a chump.
O: Really good debut album right up there with Pup’s.

Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Trust
O: This is like all the music I like. I like the band, I like him.

Beastie Boys: Ill Communication
O: Shows their punk background. Really embracing that distorted microphone.

The Police: Zenyatta Mondatta
O: The whole album is a greatest hits collection.

Mike Doughty performs Ruby Vroom at the Beachland Ballroom on Friday, October 25, 2019.

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