Rocket from The Script – family music habits

11 Feb

Beyond the wind-up windows and lack of central locking, strange things are afoot in my Skoda Fabia at the moment. The 40-minute journeys home from work are normally a haven for me to enjoy whatever tunes I want, away from the brutally honest ears of my wife (don’t get her started on Sufjan Stevens’ choral arrangements).

But on at least two occasions in the past week, I found myself not reaching to eject whatever CD my 11-year-old son left in the player when getting a lift with his mum the night before.  Today it was The Script’s ‘Science And Faith’, who’s initially butter-wouldn’t-melt rock cleverly sunk its emo-lite hooks into my skin and won’t let go.

The Script

But that’s partly my fault. Knowing Dan liked the Radio 1 favourites, I offered to download their second album with some free music tokens his granddad collected off the back of beer bottles (three Bate generations working together in tight-fisted harmony). The fact I ended up paying for the album by mistake when I messed up the online payment process is another pretty tedious story, which thankfully had a happy, fully refunded, ending (thanks play.com).

My newfound, slightly embarrassing, Script-love – and a separate recent experience where I couldn’t stop listening to Now 77’s disc two – led to me pondering the weird and wonderful world of family music listening.

As with most things, except maybe vegetables, kids have a wide-open receptiveness to music of all sorts – good, the bad and the ugly (thanks Simon Cowell). As a ‘responsible’ parent, how do you channel them towards the good stuff?

All of this is subjective and, of course, it’s not a new question. I read an interesting article last year (though I can’t for the life of me find it online) which pointed out that, in our formative childhood years, we have an unfiltered tolerance for all forms of music – regardless of fashion – which often shape our adulthood tastes.

So, is it worth trying to educate your young sponges in the wonders of Motown or Midlake before their teenage minds lock onto doom metal or dubstep and vacuum-seal themselves against all else?

To be honest, my own childhood left me under-exposed to musical variety. When I was a small kid, on finding faith, my parents destroyed most of their record collection – bye, bye Hendrix – in the name of Jesus. So, while my school friends were consuming their parents’ Beatles or Status Quo albums, my early 80s car companions were usually Christian music legends Keith Green, Amy Grant and, occasionally, Cliff Richard.

Amy Grant

Naturally, when our kids came along I wanted them to be exposed to as much ‘proper music’ as possible. Early family staples included Elvis (“Hound dog” featured on the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack after all) and The Jackson Five.

When they started to show an interest in acquiring their own tunes, I was quick to offer fatherly advice. This backfired two years ago when Dan used his Christmas vouchers to, on my recommendation, buy a Roots Manuva album as he liked a couple of the London rapper’s tracks I’d got. The hours that followed involved him, one by one, letting me know which of the tracks featuring swearing and then dutifully deleting them off his MP3 player – leaving him with about 10 minutes’ worth of music, and me with another refund situation (thanks Amazon).

Other guided-by-the-hand-of-dad purchases have proved less disastrous. The Spongebob Squarepants movie soundtrack – featuring great songs by Wilco, The Flaming Lips, The Shins and others which, for some reason, only pop up after the equally good film’s final credits start rolling – has been played at least 200 times in the Bate family car, and loved by all. Junior Senior’s “Move Your Feet” is also a kitchen dance-floor staple.

Junior Senior

Several CDs have even become the theme for some memorable family holidays. Phoenix‘s ‘It’s Never Been Like That’ was a hit in Chicago in the hire-car CD player – the kids joyfully screaming the chorus to “Long Distance Call” in Christmas 2006. And, from time to time, the children introduce us to some great music. Last year’s trip to France wouldn’t have been the same without Calvin Harris’ bass-lines stretching the speakers to explosion-point while our heads bobbed in unison.

Hopefully, in years to come my offspring will be opening my mind to some genre-breaking new sounds, long after I’ve given up trying to school them in Tom Waits or Hot Chip. But, for now, The Script will do just fine.

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