Wednesday, April 13, 2005

THOSE PESKY KIDS AND THEIR WEIRD MUSIC

Pete, over at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, tells the story of driving in Houston and hearing a nearby car with the volume cranked up to head-splitting levels:
After a few initial winces, I was able to determine that the song playing was, in fact, “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed (best known for its use in the ending credits for the Dawn of the Dead remake). Nothing shocking here. After all, nü metal ranks behind only hip hop and shitty Latino radio for car stereo popularity in Houston. No, what made this particular aural offense so delicious was the fact that the guy driving was easily in his mid-40’s: bald except for patches of graying hair over the ears, Drew Carey-style eyeglasses, and that gleam in the eyes of a man whose wife and kids are out of town and he’s gonna PARTY, goddammit.
It’s a pretty funny mental image - Old Goat Trying To Look Cool By Listening To That “New Music” The Kids Seem To Like So Much - yet I’d laugh harder at this if not for the fact that some of us old goats actually listen to music that was created after the 1980’s. And conversely, some of our kids listen to our old crap.

Face it: the great Generational Divide in Music is not what it once was. Most of today’s popular music does not sound as alien to 50-55-year-old ears now as, say, the Beatles did to the same age-cohort back in 1964. Sure, music is different today than it was in 1975, but it’s not as different as 1975’s music was compared to 1945...with the possible exception being hardcore gangsta rap. That’s very different.

The Daughters d’Elisson, for example, actually share some of my musical tastes. This would have been supremely ridiculous to imagine 30 or 40 years ago, when my parents’ attitude toward my music was one of bemused semi-tolerance. But the Mistress of Sarcasm, thirty years my junior, actually likes Led Zeppelin more than I do. My biggest issue with her music collection is that so much of it has been ripped off...from me. Everything from the Who to Miles Davis to Pink Floyd is fair game.

About ten years ago, I stumbled upon a group that was new at the time: Ben Folds Five. I had been browsing in a music store, and a CD sampler I played caught my ear. Three months later, the Mistress of Sarcasm and her friends - and everyone else in the Known Universe - discovered Ben Folds.

When Ben played a concert at Numbers in Houston - this must’ve been early 1998 - I had my ticket well before the Mistress and her friends had theirs. I was kind enough to stay out of their way...after all, what kid wants to be seen at a concert with the Old Man? (Or, for that matter, by the Old Man?)

Now that both of the girls are a little older, they actually enjoy doing the Music Thing with me. We’ve seen Project Object (more about that little adventure here), and I’ve taken Elder Daughter to see a couple of modern opera performances in Boston: Akhnaten, by Philip Glass, and Nixon in China, by John Adams. (OK, those latter two are kinda...grown-up stuff. Talk about weird music...) The Mistress of Sarcasm and I went to see Matisyahu when he performed in Atlanta in February, and I was one of a small handful of Geezers there.

The best Musical Experience the Mistress and I had together, though, was a few weeks ago. She was in town for the Atlanta Jewelry Show, and a small mob of us was at a local eatery celebrating our friend Laura-Belle’s birthday. The restaurant had a bar, packed with a pulsating crowd of (mostly) younger people, and there was a young man at the piano/synthesizer/beat box filling the room with a reasonably good selection of tunes. He was loud enough so that you could hear him over the din at the bar, even in the main part of the restaurant, but not enough to be obnoxious.

And that’s when the Mistress and I heard it.

“Baby Got Back.”

The guy was playing “Baby Got Back”! You know the song...
I like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers can’t deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung...
That would have been priceless enough, but the version the guy was playing was not Sir Mix-A-Lot’s. It was the Richard Cheese cover.

If you’re not familiar with Richard Cheese, you should be. He takes death-metal, hip-hop, gangsta rap, you-name-it, and rearranges it...Vegas Lounge style. He does a (ahem) disturbingly good version of “Down with the Sickness” - and you can actually hear the lyrics.

This was definitely the Richard Cheese version of “Baby Got Back.” Perfectly appropriate for a guy playing piano in a bar! The Mistress and I laughed ourselves silly, and I ran over and threw a five-spot in the guy’s tip jar.

Now, that was a real Father-Daughter Music Moment.

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