Music: Give Me A Beat!

I Can’t Hear You!

It’s hard to know what to get a 9 year old boy for a birthday gift. They are too old for Legos, and I never have the foresight to grab a gift certificate to the movies. However, Finn and I have hit on a perfect gift that combines our love of music with creativity. Like many wonderful things, it involves my iPod.

Finn is in charge of picking songs for the birthday boy’s CD. We burn the CD, make a personalized cover (“Brian’s CD”) and head to the party. It’s been a huge success.

I have over 3000 songs on the iPod, and when we first started doing this, Finn didn’t realize how far down the library of songs went, so for a while the CD’s were heavy on Beatles, B-52’s and Barenaked Ladies.

As the summer has gone on, however, I have convinced Finn to try to scroll through the whole library of songs, all the way past U2 and Wynonna to Yaz (which he detests, but which reminds me and a couple of other people of some fun yet excruciating evenings in Charlottesville. Fun: Yaz. Excruciating: peach schnapps.)

His latest is a masterpiece. Drew and Porter demanded copies as well. Here is the current playlist:

Cosmic Thing/B-52’s
Istanbul(Not Constantinople)/They Might Be Giants
Smoke On The Water/Deep Purple
Good Times Roll/Cars
I Want You to Want Me/Cheap Trick
What Would You Say/Dave Matthews Band
In Between Days/Cure
Crash/Gwen Stefani
Purple Haze/Jimi Hendrix
R.O.C.K. in the USA/John Mellencamp
Senorita/Justin Timberlake
Sympathique/Pink Martini
Come As You Are/Nirvana
Under The Bridge/Red Hot Chili Peppers
Who’s There/Smashmouth
Strangers When We Meet/Smithereens
Don’t Do Me Like That/Tom Petty

All three adore on Smoke On The Water, which they call “The School Of Rock Song.” Porter wants to know why it doesn’t sound right on his CD– meaning- why is it sung by Deep Purple and not by Jack Black and a lot of school kids?

I’m always on the lookout for a learning opportunity, so I’ve used “Istanbul” to teach history (it’s Istanbul; not Constantinople!) and Sympathique to teach an appreciation of music in other languages. As an added bonus, Porter has learned to say, “I don’t want to work,” in French, which comes in quite handy given his personality.

The Jimi Hendrix is getting me down. My friend Teppie lent me one of the many electric guitars her husband has won off eBay. Finn has busied himself trying to imitate Jimi’s muddled chords, which seems to be easier than I had been lead to believe when reading lists of the great guitar players in history. There are many afternoons when I could swear Hendrix himself is in the next room, creating his next masterpiece. I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s loud and resonant.

Each of the boys has his own portable CD player, and when we run errands they sit in the van, lost in their own musical worlds. The van is very quiet as a result. Most of the time this is fantastic.

It’s a little unnerving, however, to be driving down the highway and hear Drew yell, “I WANT YOU– TO WANT ME!”

Yesterday I had to go to my friend Dee’s store to try on clothes for a fashion show (yes – my modeling career has been rekindled)and I had no choice but to take the guys with me. They followed me into the boutique, each with CD player in tow, and sat down while I dressed up. Dee walked over to Finn.

“Would you like a piece of candy?” she asked.

“YES MA’AM,” he shouted. Everyone jumped. It took me a second to realize why my usually well mannered son was yelling in a business establishment.

“Finn,” I hissed from the dressing room (where I was putting on a fabulous denim mini skirt with a frayed hem) “Turn off the music so you can talk like a normal person.”


“I’M LISTENING TO THE SONG ABOUT THE HONEY BUNS,” Drew yelled, contributing to the fray.

Porter was in a corner, humming to himself.

I pulled on a tank top that I won’t be modeling (“You Can’t Afford Me”) and hustled out of the dressing room and got the boys together and told them in no uncertain terms that they were to turn down the music so that they could communicate normally, or I would be confiscating the CD players until we got back into the van.

We head to the beach soon, and I think I’ll make everyone another CD to keep fraternal fighting in the van to a minimum. I’m taking suggestions for songs that will expand the boys’ musical repertoire without corrupting them– now there’s a challenge!

So speak up. I mean it. I CAN’T HEAR YOU!


  • steph

    HEY! Can I get one of those CDs? That does sound like a pretty good mix! 😉

    As for music that does not corrupt, and is easy to listen to… I like to use soundtracks for inspiration. Garden State, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, O Brother Where Art Thou, (and for an older variety) the Commitments – some of those are really good. Personally, I like to go a little further back to some of those movies I remember from the 80’s – the Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Real Genius, etc. There are some fun songs from those soundtracks, and they bring back good memories. For a cultural lesson, I go for the Rob Roy and Braveheart soundtracks for the gaelic reels (but I recognize not everybody likes this stuff)… oh and there was a song from Unfaithful (“Ai Du” by Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder) that prompted me to buy an album. It’s kind of a west-african blues… not bad.

    I doubt you’ll be interested in all of this, but maybe it’ll give you some ideas. 🙂

  • Shelley

    Totally off-topic (at least off THIS topic), but if you’re still thinking about historical books worth reading, I can give a major thumbs up to David Fischer’s _Washington’s Crossing_.

    Of course part of the appeal might have been that I live pretty close to where the action took place, but this was one of my non-fiction faves of the last few years.

    Happy reading. And good on ya for putting the BandAid box on the counter. Sounds like a plan!

  • corndog

    Very cool mix CD. I’ve got to get my boys up to that level and away from all the Dora the Explorer crap. Thanks for stopping by my place.

  • Tish

    Your comment about being surrounded by penises and dirty feet had me curious. WHEW! YOu are not the porn fetish person that is stalking me!
    Love your blog. We must chat sometime about books and life in general. Someday my book will be on your book club list and we can dish even more.
    Best to you!!

  • PLD

    Hey there, thanks for visitng and commenting on my site! The best part about mixes is the surprise of what comes next. Yours sounds delicious!

  • Jeni

    My Husband and I will certainly raise our children on a steady diet of They Might be Giants (esp. “Mammal”, “How Does the Sun Shine?”, and “Women and Men”, among others), but we also truly appreciate Cake for their musical genuis and awesome lyrics. Just weed out the songs like “Satan Is My Motor”, amd all cursing. For some Christian music that is Actually Worth Listening To, try Third Day, Jars of Clay, and Relient K.