Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jukebox baby

I grew up singing. But my musical repertoire wasn't limited to just nursery rhymes and children's music. I cut my teeth on seventies rock and easy listening, with some classical music thrown in for variety.

You see, I was born when my parents were in their early 20s. And like most college-student 20-somethings, they spent a great deal of their time with music playing in the background as they studied and went about their days. So when I came along, they just continued that practice as a matter of course.

My earliest memories have music in them. Some of them involve my grandmother singing me traditional lullabies, but more likely they center around CCR, Bread, Lobo, Juice Newton and Chuck Mangione. I played with Barbies as they rocked to AC/DC. I pushed around my brother's Tonka truck as the Mamas and the Papas sang "California Dreamin'." I helped my mom dust and vacuum as Copeland's "Rodeo" thundered through the house. My younger brother and I knew all the words to "Coward of the County" and "The Gambler" and sang along with Kenny Rogers every chance we got. I lay awake in bed on nights my dad's friends came over, listening to Vietnamese folk and popular music as it filtered through the walls from the living room. Years later, when I was a member of our office's party planning committee in the consulting firm where I worked, I noted aloud that we could enliven a summer office barbecue with John Fogerty and Santana. "What are you," asked my market leader, a senior partner in the firm, "some kind of hippie?"

Recently, my husband and I agreed we wanted to surround our son with music, just as we'd grown up. So today I launched iTunes and hit "play," setting my library to "shuffle." Within an hour or so, he'd heard Queen, several tracks from "My Fair Lady", "Rent" and "Les Miserables," Michael Buble, Soundgarden, the Dixie Chicks, Bill Withers, and more. I have no idea whether he absorbed any of it or if he even noticed it. And yet there may come a day when he runs across a throwback station on XM radio and sings along with Michael Jackson. One can only hope.

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