“The song that I sing is the only way I can explain….” *

21 Aug

Over the past 17 years, I have often recalled my naivety when, as a child and teenager, I promised myself that I would never, ever do “that” when I am a mom. I can remember many times that I even made that same promise to my mom, with the intent of making her feel bad, I’m sure. Thankfully, I have done “that.” I have acted like my mom did and said just the same kinds of mom things she said.

Here is a recent concern and an example of me, acting just like my mom:  While riding in the car and being exposed to the music that my children and all of their friends listen to, I find myself questioning the lyrics. When they know each word of Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now,” I have three immediate reactions. First, I am shocked at the words and ideas he expresses.

Second, I wonder how much they are influenced by his words. After hearing Wiz Khalifa rap about “Black and Yellow,” I wonder what my children have seen and even experienced.

And, third, I think about the horrified look on my mom’s face when she discovered song lyrics that my 9th grade boyfriend, my first true crush, mailed me. As she read Cat Stevens’ “Two Fine People,” she almost shivered with fear that I experienced the things he wrote about. She did not think that I should have boyfriends who gave such obscene suggestions. I tried to explain that breast simply rhymed with test, but she did not care. I remember telling her, “We don’t do any of those things.…” I was embarrassed and angry and also worried that my relationship was in jeopardy. If she told my father, they might forbid me from seeing my boyfriend.  They either did not understand or did not want to. Meanwhile, I was even more smitten after receiving his letter with those lyrics.

And, it was not just about having a boyfriend. Around the same time, Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s the Night was a huge hit. Radio stations played it almost every hour and my mom cringed each time she heard it. She could not understand that I just liked his voice and the song’s melody. His words were risqué–as a mom, I would have to agree with her.

Now that I have children and they have their music, I can’t help but think how beautiful it would be for them to send or receive mail (snail, not e and not txts) like I did. I would be thrilled if those were the most obscene lyrics they knew.  I wonder what my mom would say if she heard some Brown or Khalifa.

How did your mom react to the music you listened to? What concerns should we have over the effect explicit lyrics might have on children?

*Stevens, Cat. Two Fine People, A & M Records, 1976.


2 Responses to ““The song that I sing is the only way I can explain….” *”

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster August 22, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    It’s funny, but most of the music I listened to was her music. (Cat Stevens was one of her favorites!) It’s funny to read this now and wonder what will be the musical experience between Li’l D and I. I would definitely not want him listening to some of what I do after I’ve dropped him off at day care in the morning! And yet, as I saw in How to Train Your Dragon yesterday, there’s probably truth in that: “You can’t stop them. You can only prepare them.” *ponderponder*

  2. Steven Berr April 8, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    My mother was actually pretty tolerant of the music I listened to, mostly in the car. It was my father who really couldn’t stand all that “noise.” That being said, I find myself actually liking a lot of the music my kids listen to. And they thoroughly enjoy my music. If you asked my daughter who her favorite band of all time was, the answer would be Queen. My sons? U2. While others came before me, I believe we may be the first generation where the music crosses over. And the bond that it has created between my children and I is a strong one.

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