19 January 2005

I've got the music in me

Moreso than any other January, I have been reflecting on my life and areas that I would like to improve. My current mantra is "It ain't all about me", so I am trying to do less navel-gazing and focus on those around me. Yesterday, my thoughts traveled to music and my kids.

I have a very eclectic taste in music. I know that there are lots of people who think their musical taste is wide-ranging, but in my case it really is. The main reason that I don't buy CDs is that I have trouble picking something that I would rather bring home over something else, since I don't have an unlimited budget. If I did have a CD collection, you would see everything from Marilyn Monroe to the Impressions to Jim Croce to the cast recording of Hairspray to Kelly Osbourne to the Stray Cats . . .

Unfortunately, my kids aren't benefitting from their mother's good taste. They are not surrounded by music as much as I was in my childhood, and I know that early exposure is what shapes your musical preferences. In my opinion, most people stick to one genre of music because their parents didn't make much of an effort to present a variety or they were of the opinion that "we" (black, Southern, Asian, whatever) only listen to a certain kind of music. I don't want my kids to be like that, so I need to raise the level of importance of music in our lives. Right now, these are my kids' musical influences:

--Church (urban gospel)
--Radio Disney (sanitized pop)
--Dance Dance Revolution and anime (Japanese pop)

I remember my own musical influences quite clearly and I want to give them something to remember, too. I want them to know that there is great stuff outside the Top 40. Since I don't have enough stuff to do a "100 things about me" list, I thought I would share a few remembrances of music in my childhood:

--I learned the words to "Hello, Dolly" from a first-grade teacher who had a piano in her classroom and would play for us before class.
--My parents owned a night spot for a brief period, which is where I heard a lot of disco. I also remember my mom and her friends with afros and hot pants!
--I learned to do the Hustle and the Bus Stop in elementary school gym class.
--I first heard Rod Stewart and ABBA on a little transister radio tuned to WABC in New York.
--"Happy Days", "To Sir, With Love", "Grease", and an oldies show on local radio station 61 Big Ways were responsible for introducing me to the music of the 1950s and early 1960s.
--As a teenager, I increased my knowledge of music by digging through the $2.99 cassette bin at the Record Bar and buying the ones with the coolest name or the best cover art.
--I also bought cassettes based on reviews in SPIN magazine, which was supposed to be the new and hip alternative to Rolling Stone (I still have two years' worth of issues in my garage). Those reviews introduced me to Culture Club, Fine Young Cannibals, and Edie Brickell, among others.

So much for not doing too much navel-gazing :-). Perhaps this will inspire some of you to take a little mental trip and recall some of those fond musical memories in your own past.

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