When my son, Liam, was born almost five years ago, I was determined to usher him into a world of good music. I bought a "Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Radiohead" CD, and I culled my iTunes catalog for soothing, baby-friendly songs that I wouldn't be embarrassed to fall asleep to myself.
When my son, Liam, was born almost five years ago, I was determined to usher him into a world of good music. I bought a "Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Radiohead" CD, and I culled my iTunes catalog for soothing, baby-friendly songs that I wouldn't be embarrassed to fall asleep to myself.Whether my early efforts helped instill a love of music in Liam, I don't know. But I do know the kid loves music, and it's rubbed off on his younger sister, Maggie. These two will dance to anything with a beat. In fact, it doesn't even need a beat. At a recent "PBJ & Jazz" event put on by the Jazz Arts Group at the Lincoln Theater, my kids were front and center, shaking it. When the band launched into a slower, smooth-jazz tune, they were still dancing like it was Warren G instead of Kenny G. I have to hold them back from dancing in the aisles during church, too. Otherwise church would become the Liam & Maggie Show. One of the Sunday favorites is "By Thy Mercy" (a.k.a. "Bye Bye Mercy"). After the benediction, Liam makes a mad dash for the drumset. While Maggie requests the same songs from the "Lion King" soundtrack every night before bed, Liam has a pile of CDs on his dresser from which he carefully makes his listening selection. He mulls it over carefully, just like his daddy, making sure the music fits his current mood. Sometimes it's the mix with "the haircut song" (a.k.a. Pavement's "Cut Your Hair"). Other times it's a Beatles album. There's a danger here, though. A few months ago The Onion ran a story with the headline, "Cool Dad Raising Daughter on Media That Will Put Her Entirely Out of Touch with Her Generation," in which a dad was hilariously determined to expose his child to "highly influential albums that will in no way help his daughter interact with her peers." And it's not just the social lives of my kids I need to be mindful of. At some point in their teens, they'll rebel. It got me thinking: What if you ran around the house singing the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" at age 2? How do you rebel? I have visions of a teenage Liam scowling at me from his room while blasting "The Essential Michael Bolton." So I'm careful to include "kid" music. I can't quite bring myself to put "Baby Beluga" on mixes, but it's not rare to hear the "Curious George" soundtrack, Yo Gabba Gabba songs and "Slugs, Bugs & Lullabies" blasting from Liam's room. When I took Liam to see the "U2 3D" concert film at COSI, he loved it for three songs. Then he fell sound asleep. I had the urge to wake him up and say, "Liam, you gotta hear this one. It's so much better than the album version." But I resisted. Sometimes you have to let a kid be a kid. -Joel Oliphint is a freelance writer, often running his mouth about music in The Other Paper and other pubs. His two kids refer to Bob Evans as Bob Dylan's and still don't know the purple dinosaur's name.