Our 14 year old spends a lot of time in her room, listening to music. I did the same thing at her age – for me, it was The Police, Blondie and The Cure. We had a two-storied house so my parents were blissfully unaware of my musical choices. Not so now – as I write this in the room next door, I’m second-hand listening to Meghan Trainor, Beyonce, Khalid, Drake and Rihanna. Mixed in with all this are The Spice Girls, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Suzi Quatro and The Clash.
She has Spotify so the world is her oyster in musical terms. Just like I listened to my father’s old records in the 70’s, our kid has picked up on our subtle clues pointing back to music of decades gone by and explored them. I’ve learned that I can’t be too obtuse with my recommendations; she may never listen to Ella Fitzgerald again, thanks to that time I practically locked her in the house to listen to The Cole Porter Song Book. I hope I haven’t scarred her for life, Ella-wise.
So we’re starting light. MTV recently aired a show called “90s Chart Toppers” which I suggested (okay, insisted) that we all watch together: the next day she was all over The Spice Girls, C&C Music Factory and a little bit of Dee-Lite. I was disproportionately delighted to hear “Groove is in the Heart” coming out of her room. I may or may not have actually danced the whole length of the hallway, carrying a laundry basket at the same time (how things have changed since 1990). We’re building up to the classics and her father’s taste in music is definitely an acquired one for a teenager. Actually, it’s an acquired taste for an adult. On long car journeys I make up a Democratic Playlist on Spotify, which incorporates favourites from all three famililal points of view. It can get interesting. Although she has embraced Suzie Q and is working her way towards David Bowie and Pink Floyd. It will take some time.
In parallel, I’m learning a few things about music. I have a new appreciation for Beyonce and I no longer absolutely hate Drake. I know the lyrics to most of her favourite songs, although I’m not allowed to sing them, like, actually out loud. Apparently I can sometimes be, like, seriously embarrassing. Which is a massive coincidence because my Mum was too, when I was 14.
Scary Split Enz
My first gig was the brilliant Split Enz in Palmerston North around 100 years ago. I was 14. Mum didn’t come with me. She did ask me not to wear too much makeup and so obviously my response was to cake on the Shiseido like there was no tomorrow. In the right light, I could have passed for a very young drag queen. But in comparison to the band, I may as well not have bothered. Heavily made-up, they were ominous and hilarious all at once: there were a lot of moody numbers amidst clouds of dry ice. It was completely thrilling and I came away convinced I needed to:
(a) wear more makeup
(b) become a pop star and
(c) spend more time backcombing my hair.
I did two out of three of these things; no prizes.
Ariana Grande played Spark Arena in Auckland recently, and I was there. Our kid is on the cusp of “solo-gigging” but I’m not ready to let her go just yet. Some of her friends head to gigs without an adult in tow: I’m sure they’re just fine but I still can’t do it. So I’ve come up with a cunning plan: I’ve booked tickets for Lorde, The Weeknd and Katy Perry, keeping her well and truly under my wing, concert-wise, till she’s at least 15. It has absolutely nothing to do with me wanting to see the acts also. No, I’m taking one for the team, getting down with the kids in spite of myself, sacrificing a nice evening in with a cup of tea for the safe musical education of my daughter.