Possibly my earliest living memory is my older brother playing Queen’s News of the World on our trusty record player, in our fusty 1970’s living room.
The menacing art deco robot armed with a vacant stare, cradling in its hand a limp and bloodied Freddie and Brian May on the fatalistic album cover, fascinated and disturbed. Queen’s unique sound also became ingrained in my brain. Decades after their Live Aid masterclass they’re still the champions, my friend.
Beyond happy and healthy children, next item on a father’s wish list might be shared interests which permeate the bond. Music tends to divide the generations though, for beyond thirty or so, newcomers are viewed suspiciously or with contempt, despite best endeavours to avoid living in Fogeyville.
Truth is popular music has forever permitted sonic fallout to ooze between the cracks; from Tiny Tim and the Captain & Tenille, to Nickelback and Redfoo. But I gotta say, our highly disposable and derivative music scene, controlled by finance execs and spin doctors wielding formulas for success, is serving up diminishing returns as the generations hit the end of the alphabet. I mean, how many tracks churned out this century will be considered ‘classics’ in 20 years’ time?
Tim Minchin’s blackly humourous Lullaby for sleep deprived parents asks ‘when does patting become hitting?’, and similarly I ponder the fine line between encouraging and brainwashing.
When the void between the Wiggles and my boy’s next music discovery was unexpectedly filled via playground hearsay by One Direction, a dilemma transpired. Could I bring myself to purchase the requested 1D DVD? Thankfully, upon viewing their banal TV performance of the worst titled Best Song Ever, he was visibly underwhelmed.
Better still, his sister stumbled across We Will Rock You on the radio and they were immediately hooked. Not the best Queen tune for sure, but I took the cue to hard wire their immature ear drums with a group who actually played their instruments (imperiously), constructed melodies and wrote their own lyrics (ingeniously), sang them (perfectly) and performed (brilliantly).
Now, from the back seat of the car, my falsetto duo aptly singing ‘I want it all’ is a source of pride and mirth. I can’t chain them to the past though, as much as I’d like to feed them a diet of The Church, Bowie and the Smiths, as original artists with more depth than a petri dish. Nor does one want pre-pubescent Emo’s boarding themselves up in their bedroom – so if Katy Perry makes them merry, I’ll dole out the pop confectionary within reason.
But parents, taking tots to see Bieber and 1D is failing your duty of care! We vet our children’s viewing and reading material don’t we? At least serve some aural fruit and veg whilst your offspring are still on speaking terms. Then they just may develop the good taste to chow down on music which inspires and enriches their lives.
Even if, like me, they’ve inherited less actual musical ability than Milli Vanilli.
POSTSCRIPT: The boy took up guitar in grade 3 and wanted to learn Another One Bites the Dust for the annual concert. No dice, he had to learn a different song. Yep… a One Direction song. Boy wasn’t impressed but nevertheless put on an impressive performance for beginners.