I think my oldest daughter was about 2 when I heard her singing “hey ho, let’s go” in the car with The Ramones. And there’ve been other great moments of musical pride like that. She’s now 5 and I hear her singing along to songs I had no idea she had even been paying attention to. The other day, she requested “that song that says ‘sharpen your knife’” and it took me a couple seconds to figure out she meant “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. That’s a heavy song for a five-year-old, but it made me proud nonetheless.
Eventually, she’ll rebel and listen to music I hate just because I hate it. We all do that to our parents. But in my case, I eventually learned that my parents were listening to some pretty great music. The point is, don’t dumb it down for your kids. Don’t play the “kid’s music” for them. Or, at least, don’t just play that stuff. We can go from “Let it Go” to “Let it Be” to “Let it Bleed” and whatever else. Having said that, though, I’ve recently found myself awkwardly skipping songs when I realize she’s understanding the lyrics now.
It’s not as simple as a dirty word or two, though. I’m fine with her hearing The Kills “F*** the People” for example, because if anything, that’s empowering. But some songs I don’t think she’s ready for. These are a few actual examples that have come up recently, prompting me to remove them from my Spotify library.
“Ms. Fat Booty” by Mos Def. I don’t even listen to much hip hop, and at the end of the day, this isn’t even really anywhere near 2 Live Crew, Sir Mixalot or whatever hip hop is popular now (I’m an old) level of risque. There’s really nothing like that in my library, anyway. And it’s not like this has any real cursing or anything, but it’s just too adult. She probably wouldn’t understand most of the lyrics anyway, but I really don’t need to create a situation where I have to hear my daughter singing “I smashed it like an idaho potato.”
“Little Girl” by John and Jackie. This one is obscure, which is true of a lot of what’s in my library. It’s real early rockabilly rebel stuff. It’s the kind of thing set off southern preachers on record burning binges. I love this song but there’s just no way I can listen to this in front of most people as it is, much less my own daughters. There’s really nothing to say about it, except listen for yourself. If you’re brave, play it loud at the office (don’t).
“Bitch, I Love You” by Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. Well, the title pretty much sums it up, and that is the first line of the song, but if you’re not familiar with it, it ends on bit a of a rant and possible domestic violence situation(?). It’s a great song, though, and if you haven’t heard Black Joe Lewis before, do yourself a favor and do it now. It’s old school R&B that gets yelled at you by an apparently insane dude while an awesome band plays.
“Cola” by Lana Del Rey. We don’t drink soda in my house. Next.
“Last Caress” by The Misfits. This is on hold until she’s in her teens. At that point, we have to push the punk and metal and heavy music like this. It’s how teenage angst should be dealt with. For now, though, I’m not sure she’d understand why it’s not that serious that this man is singing this totally fun song about killing your baby and raping your mother, that somehow makes you happy and want to sing along. I’m not sure I even understand it. I guess “Doesn’t matter much much to me, as long as he’s dead” could be the precursor to “Oh well, whatever, nevermind.” Who knows? Nonetheless, I can only hear this alone for now.