My daughter is one year away from getting her driver’s permit, so we’ll have many moments together in the car fighting over the radio station selection. She has reached the age where her after school activities and budding social life mean that I have reached the Age of Chauffeur. Challenge Girls Club, winter swim, dance class, study groups…did I mention shopping? All this travel needs a soundtrack, and we are desperately seeking middle ground.
I thought that I had anticipated this coming culture clash, and raised (brainwashed) her right. By the age of 7 she could differentiate between John and Paul’s voices on a song (identifying Ringo was too easy). By 2nd grade, I had explained the “Paul is Dead” urban legend, pointing out the clues on the Sgt. Pepper’s album. She proudly displayed the framed cover of Squeeze’s 1980s album, East Side Story, on her bedroom wall. She preferred Daddy’s music. I burned mix CDs for her. I was her DJ, and she was my groupie.
I’m not sure exactly when HOT 99.5 FM entered her scene. I know that once she achieved the proper weight minimum and age requirement to move from the back to the front seat, she was eagerly lunging for the dial on the car radio, slapping my hand away from my AOR presets. HOT 99.5 must have already infected her bloodstream by then. I resisted, as any concerned father and dedicated audiophile would, for as long as I could. I argued. The talk on her station was too vulgar, the commercials too suggestive, and the target audience more ‘open-minded’ than I was prepared for my groupie to be. On moral grounds, we had to listen to Elvis Costello and Talking Heads instead of Rihanna and Katy Perry. I needed to protect her.
Then she hit me. “Dad, every song you like was written by some guy who was drunk or on drugs.”
Ouch. This was going to be a tough argument for me to win. Of course she was correct. Keith Moon, Keith Richards and Jim Morrison were not exactly the role models for my daughter to idolize. Many of their songs glorified deviant behaviors and contained lyrics with dual meanings. Listening to my music today, I sometimes forget how the words gave life to my teenaged angst and my quest to defy the authority figures in my life.
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone.
In time, I have come to enjoy some of the HOT 99.5 FM playlist. How could the songs not get stuck in your head? The same 5-10 are played in heavy rotation for hours and hours, in between Geico commercials and Lady Gaga Twitter updates. I like that Jay-Z song, Empire State of Mind. Some of the song lyrics still confuse me, like the new Far East Movement tune, Like a G6. I had to ask (with genuine interest, mind you), “Why do the cheesesticks make her feel so fly?”. That was embarrassing.
I like the new Eminem song, too. I actually listened to that one when Marra wasn't still in the car with me. I finally listened to the words yesterday. It's something about a break up, and at the end, Marshall Mathers ties his girlfriend up and sets her on fire. WHAT??!!!??
All my fears about HOT 99.5 were confirmed. Satan rules popular music, Satan has penned this song, and Satan must be stopped at all costs. I switched back to one of Daddy's favorite stations, and exhaled a sigh of relief. Back to the Beatles, and the calming guitar strings of Norwegian Wood.
I once had a girl, or should I say
she once had me.
She showed me her room, isn't it good?
She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh,
I told her I didn't, and crawled off to sleep in the bath.
And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird has flown.
So I lit a fire, isn't it good?
Apparently, arson bridges the musical generation gap. From now on, I'll just tap my fingers to the beat on the steering wheel, and enjoy my driving time alone with my daughter. Like I have a choice anymore.