When I was little, my parents had this big stereo with a five-CD changer. (Remember those?) I used to ask them, when I was maybe five or six, to put on “real rock ‘n roll CDs” so I could dance (read: flail and jump randomly with no sense of rhythm whatsoever) around the living.
Best I can remember, “real rock ‘n roll” mainly meant Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits 1974-78 and Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. Also “Only the Good Die Young” by the one and only Billy Joel. But for real, my first ever “favorite song” that wasn’t sung by Barney or Raffi or from a Disney soundtrack was “Rock’n Me” by the Steve Miller Band.
As I got older, while my friends were listening to Nirvana and TLC and Mariah Carey, I stubbornly shunned pretty much all current music in favor of “your favorite classic rock hits from the 60s and 70s” (what I remember as the tagline from the most-played radio station in our house and cars). The soundtrack of my childhood, in addition to the aforementioned artists, was a lot of Elton John. The Eagles. Led Zeppelin. The Beatles. Eric Clapton. Aerosmith (pre-Run DMC). The Who. Crosby, Stills, Nash (& Young). Jimi Hendrix. James Taylor. The Doors. The Rolling Stones. Buffalo Springfield. The Beach Boys. Fleetwood Mac. Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Hanson brought me into the world of pop music in 1997 and now my tastes have broadened. Considerably. Case in point, over the past week or so I’ve listened to Bach’s “greatest hits,” Coeur de Pirate, Dirty Guv’nahs, Elle King, Jason Isbell, Jack Johnson, Michael Franti, James Taylor, and Ed Sheeran. So I’m a little all over the place, but one thread I see carrying through almost all the music I go back to again and again is something rootsy and rocky. If I were to draw a huge mind-map of all the artists I like, I could somehow connect everything to at least one of the classic rock artists I first fell in love with.
I could go on and on about all the emotional power music can have, but more than anything, I love how it’s brought people together throughout my life. It’s introducing my friends in high school to Something Corporate and singing “Punk Rock Princess” at the top of our lungs as we left school. It’s meeting someone else at a party and talking for hours about how unbelievably awesome it would be if Led Zeppelin went on a proper tour (c’monnnn, Robert Plant. please?). It’s wandering around the parking lot before a Jimmy Buffett concert and getting invited to play with hula hoops and do jello shots.
I’m grateful my husband had a similar musical upbringing, and that he was able to introduce me to country (and now endures my ranting against mainstream and bro country and my nit-picking on every single Luke Bryan song — be careful what you wish for, babe). We may or may not harshly judge people who don’t know who Paul McCartney is or who can’t name a favorite Eagles song. And it’s so easy to convince him to spend money on concert tickets.
And I love that my family can all come together to enjoy a concert. You expect to see parents and kids bonding and sharing the experience at baseball games. And while we did plenty of that when I was a kid, I find that concerts can bridge that generational gap just as well.