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A Gathering of Angels Appeared Above My Head, And Sang to me This Song of Hope and this is what They Said:

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:46pm
I'm addicted to music. It's kind of my thing. I am not, however, in any way a music snob. That much must be known about me. I do, however, have lines to draw as any sensible person would have, as you will see.

I have a few musical flashpoints in my own young life that I must share as background before I go too deeply into the true intent of this post, which is to tell you about The Kid's amazing relationship to music. But indulge me in a few moments that made me the music nut that I am today:

1. I am about 6 years old. It is approximately 1984. My sister Peggy is in full-on Police -mania, goes to their concert, and I feel true, real desire to be older, to get to have cool friends (one of hers was from Germany and I thought he was so dreamy, at six, yo) and listen to music with them and be cool too. It is Synchronicity all the time in the basement of our home. My first "favorite" song is Miss Gradenko. I sneak into her room on numerous occasions to listen specifically to Miss Gradenko. Is she safe? Who knows? All I know is that a nearly lifetime crush on Sting is begun at the tender age of 6. Unfortunately, the crush is blown to hell at approximately my age of 28 when he starts starring in ads for cars. But that was a good 22 year love fest we had, Stingy. [Stingy, this is a joke for Peggy. Do you get it?]

2. I am around 10 years old. My sister Bonnie is home for the summer from college and has all of her albums in her room. I discover, again surreptitiously, the world of musical theatre. Yes, geek, I know, but god, do I love that Stephen Sondheim. I could act out the following musicals from their soundracks alone: Sunday in the Park with George (favorite of all time), Sweeny Todd ( which I hear is going to be movie, directed by Tim Burton: HEEE!!!), Les Miserables, Chess (yes, the musical written by the dude from ABBA, what of it?), later on I discover Into the Woods (god, great musical, Stephen Sondheim is truly a genius). If there would have been hidden cameras in my sister Bonnie's bedroom in the years between 1885 and 1990, I would have paid a great deal of blackmail money, on account of my fantastic renditions of the role of Eponine in Les Mis and Dot in Sunday. God, I wanted to be Bernadette Peters. Seriously. It must also be noted that Sunday in the Park with George just happens to be a musical based on the famous pointelist painting by Georges Seurat, which ultimately began my other obsession in life, ART, the history of which became my major in college. By the by, and, everything is connected, or in otherwords, Sychronicity.

3. I am 11 years old. Some goofy folk singer has come to my school to sing goofy folk songs. I can see the other kids in my school enjoying this incredibly. But I am making fun of it in my head. I am not clapping and singing along. I feel akward, like the dumbness of this guy's act is so apparent to me: He's a grown MAN! He's singing about Hildegard the Hippopotamus and he's as old as my dad! There's something totally wrong here!!! Later, my teacher asks me if I liked the concert. I politely said yes, but then she followed up with the observation that I didn't participate. I said, Well, it just seemed kind of dumb. And then I cried, because I was embarrased because I was clearly the only one who thought it was disturbing that this grown man was singing these inane songs. I was horribly self aware at even the age of 11. This self-awareness turned, for YEARS, into pretentiousness, a disease of which I am proud to say I've been cured. Thank god.

4. I am 12 years old. Saturday Night Live is good again. The Church Lady and Toonces the Driving Cat and all. I'm hooked. One night, The Sugarcubes are the musical guest. The Sugarcubes are Bjork's band, prior to her amazing solo career, which I have watched and admired at every single step since. My life subsequently changes, no joke. I buy their tape the next day. Oh my god, I can't tell you how many times I listened to Birthday. I hear that song today and I can see my junior high bedroom. I can even smell it. Bjork. I. Love. Her. Don't even talk to me about the Swan Dress. I don't want to hear it. She is brilliant. She can do no wrong. She is amazing. She has never been in a car commercial, nor do I think she ever will be.

[okay, before I go any further, can I say that my computer is freaking me out with some Sychronicity tonight? I usually write while playing music on my Windows Music Player. Almost everything I own on CD is on this computer. As I've written this, The Sugarcubes has played, which rarely comes up on the "all play" option as it is only one album of hundreds, and The Police have played about three times. But now we've got The Girl From Ipanema, so whatever.]

So, we've established the following: An early interest in non-child-friendly music. An interest in adolescence in "interesting" music. And I've confessed to sneaking into my sister's rooms and scratching their favorite records to hell. Yep, it was me, girls.

Now that I'm a parent, I need to explain some more. Going into this deal, I knew I would have a short fuse for Barney. I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to more than .23 seconds of Raffi. Because even when I was a little kid, I couldn't stand that stuff. I've been so painfully self aware my whole life. I've always attributed this to being the youngest of four daughters, teased at every turn for my developmental stages. With adulthood, I kind of realize that this was always just part of my psyche, but regardless of its source, I can't be highly dramatic or self-centered at any point in my life without knowing what an asshole I am being, so I rarely do it [i think, or hope anyway]. The result of this is 1) I am the world's worst candidate for reality television; 2) I'm an incredibly good friend because I rarely turn anything into something about ME; 3) I could never be a hippy or a deadhead because I'm far too aware of how dumb people look when all deadheaded out.

The Kid's grown into a true, awesome, devouring love for music as well. I can't wait to talk to The Kid at 22 or 32, and ask him about his relationship to music. Because right now, he is very into it. It all started with the Yellow Submarine. Choosing music in the car has always been a carefully done thing, mostly because a lot of the music I hold dear I don't really want The Kid to hear the lyrics to quite yet. So when he was really little, we played a great deal of Beatles in the car. One trip to the video store later, he had found the DVD of Yellow Submarine on his own, at three, because there are only so many things you will find with a Yellow Submarine on them, and yes, they will be mostly related. So, we rented Yellow Submarine and watched it so constantly that I had no choice but to purchase the film. And listen to the Beatles pretty much constantly until he was about 5 years old. Which was cool. The child's obsession was with something of amazing quality, The Beatles, arguably the greatest musical act of the modern age, and not with some mind numbing singing vegetables or any kind of CD that idiotically mispells Kids with a Z or contains the song "The Wheels on the Bus."

As the years have gone on, The Kid's journey through the history of rock and roll has been interesting, and stimulating. He has an amazing relationship with a certain song by The Smiths. Like, he knows all the words. He frequently requested T-Rex for quite a while. I'm unsure if he adored the pre-alternative sounds of Marc Bolan, or if he just really liked the name because of his concurrent love of dinosaurs. The Kid approaches music with total earnest commitment. He loves it, he dances around, he learns songs by heart. I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have listened to The Bicycle Song by Queen. I have found myself waiting to introduce him to certain songs until he is older (Tom Saywer? Mama?). He has a "thing" for Waterfall by The Stone Roses. The first concert he ever went to, he met David Lee Roth. The second concert he went to, he got us into the VIP section of a Bright Eyes NPR appearance, and was given a free T-Shirt, which he still wears weekly, no joke.

About a year ago, Peggy gave me a burned copy of Styx's greatest hits. She knew my soft spot for 70's prog-rock, but mostly she gave it to me because she knew The Kid would enjoy it. I remember playing it for him, but she gave me the disc at the same time she also burned the soundtrack to Xanadu, which deserves its own music history of Molly G's life of its own, and so the Styx disc went into the pile, and The Kid didn't really dig it at the time.

I recently spent a Saturday night at my friend Erin's house, and in preparation, I brought over one of my CD books so that she could [uh, totally download all of my music] listen to some of my CD's. In the book was this unlabeled CD. I threw it in the player. I was Styx. So we drove around for a day as I played The Kid some of their better songs [uh, Renegade, duh], until we came across Come Sail Away [link is totally awesome Karaoke version of the song, please, go, and give singing it a try, for The Kid]. The song is, undeniably, one of the best 70's prog-rock songs, and if you dare dispute me, I've got the guns and ammo to do it. Bring it on. That song is great. Don't fight it. No, no, you can't stop the rocking.

Needless to say, The Kid fell in LOVE. Not just love: lurve, the Woody Allen word for love when love just isn't enough to express all of that emotion. And so, by the time we got to Erin's house on that Saturday night, The Kid made me bring the CD in so he could sing it to Erin. And so, for the fortnight since, it's been a 24 hour per day Styx-fest. Come Sail Away with the cornflakes in the morning. Come Sail Away with the toothbrush at night. Just this morning, he was estimating how many plays of Come Sail Away it would take to get home from the mall. For your information, it took 3.5 plays. Just so you know.

As I dropped The Kid off at Karate this morning, then, what to my delight did I hear but that the talented Dennis DeYoung of Styx would be giving a free concert tonight in downtown Denver at The Taste of Colorado. As a responsible mother, I had no choice. We had to go.

He was SOOO excited. I can't think of a time in my life, in my own music freak-dom that I've ever been able to see a band live as immediately, as concurrently as a new obsession has formed. So, as we walked through the festival to get to the stage, he was literally bouncing. He was ecstatic, in the most literal sense of ecstacy.

So, as soon as we arrived at our chosen concert-viewing spot, Dennis began singing Domo Origato Mr. Roboto. One thing you must know, the dude is totally gray haired and old. Other thing to note? He still sounds exactly the same. Good voice on that dude, undeniably. Pure joy came over my son. Pure. And I honestly got teary. It was so sweet. We watched the whole show, waiting for Come Sail Away. I knew they would play it as the encore. Everyone knew it would be their encore, in that it is Styx's best song next to Renegade, which Dennis DeYoung didn't sing, so like, fuggedaboutit. The Kid was near to tears at the end of the show because they hadn't sung it yet, so I got to teach him what an encore was all about. But we screamed and yelled for about 1 minute before we heard the tinkling piano that begins The Kid's favorite song.

This all came after a week of total hell. My job sucks beyond definition, and this week it reached new lows that I cannot, literally, explain to you. The Kid had a violent bipolar explosion at school that resulted in a half-day's suspension (who is that kid? Not The Kid who spent this wonderful Saturday with me), and I got the flu of the century and missed an unprecedented three days from work in a row. But as the musically cheesy and hilariously brilliant Dennis DeYoung sang to me tonight, and almost as I'd say them to The Kid, my wonderful companion in life:

The headlines read these are the worst of times
I do believe its true

I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide
I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise
But I know, if the world turned upside down
Baby, I know you'd always be around
The best of times are when I'm alone with you

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