It bothers me sometimes that my kids don’t seem to be as much into music as I was at their age.
I don’t think they listen to the radio all that much, nor are they in the habit of enthusing about whatever new performer they’ve discovered.
So I’ve taken matters into my own hands, in as gentle a way as possible.
I gave my older son, who is a freshman in high school, 10 digital albums for Christmas via iTunes. (He is actually the sort who might have enjoyed fetishing the CD covers. But I went with MP3s as a grudging nod toward the 21st century.)
Each album I’ve chosen represents a different genre. Each one is, if not a major masterwork, an example of the genre at or near its best.
The idea is that the lad listens to all 10, at his leisure and unpressured, with whatever degree of interest he can muster.
If something strikes a spark, he’ll know he likes blues, or country, or whatever, and he can go explore that genre at greater depth.
If absolutely nothing at all strikes a spark … well, then both he and I will know something. And I’ll at least have the satisfaction of formally trying.
(Of course this isn’t, and won’t be, my only attempt at educating the kid musically. I often tell him what I have playing on the stereo, and sometimes he shows an interest. For example, I am fairly certain a fondness for James Brown lurks beneath his placid demeanor. But I digress.)
Anyway, here are my selections for the Music Education Project. If you have thoughts, suggestions or comments, you know where to leave ’em.
ROCK/POP – The Beatles, The Beatles (We already have most of their other classic albums in digital format, and one of my goals was to purchase recordings we did not already own digitally. Plus, the White Album seemed like a good sprawling project for him to get his mind around.)
ROCK/POP – The Velvet Underground, Loaded (I thought about the Velvets as a doorway to punk, but then ended up choosing their most “commercial” album.)
BLUES – A Howlin’ Wolf compilation CD (The Essential Howlin’ Wolf, maybe?) that was as close as I could find, in terms of track listing, to a really good compilation LP I own on vinyl.
COUNTRY – Johnny Cash, Live at Folsom Prison
ACOUSTIC/TRADITIONAL JAZZ – Bill Evans, Portrait in Jazz (we’ve already got Miles’s Kind of Blue, which would ordinarily be my recommended first stop in jazz.)
ELECTRIC JAZZ/FUSION – Weather Report, Heavy Weather
RAP/HIP-HOP – Public Enemy, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back (this one’s gonna take some explainin’; I look forward to his response.)
PROGRESSIVE – Yes, Close To The Edge
METAL – Black Sabbath, Heaven and Hell (the lad will know Dio.)
FUNK – Parliament, Mothership Connection
My dad is probably going to chip in a classical recording or two, and I am considering one or two other genres. (He is familiar with the Ramones so I don’t know what better punk I can add to the list.)
There are no women here; I’m considering slipping in some Joni Mitchell under the guise of “singer/songwriter.” We’ll see.
And yes, the list leans toward the classic — there is no Katy Perry here. But I figure if he wanted to listen to the current stuff, he’d already be doing it.
I think he will be dutiful about exploring what’s put before him; I look forward to hearing what he thinks.