June 21, 2006

Not My Kid

"For a generation, A Prairie Home [Companion] has been the soundtrack of being stuck in the car with your parents."

That's from Slate film critic Michael Agger's review of the Robert Altman movie version of Garrison Keillor's radio show.

I cannot stand Keillor. I used to be an public radio junkie; I soaked in it. It was the background soundtrack to my workday. Until the kid arrived, that is, and took its place. The combination of radio and baby and talking and phone and computer was just too much, and so something had to go.

Even during the 4-5 hour drive between DC and NYC, I find that I can't really get into listening to NPR that much anymore. If I do, I find that I tune out the kid in the backseat, and that kind of gets to me. I mean, I get to drive--and catch up on what's happening in the world, if not in Lake Wobegon--but she's stuck back in her chair with no options. So rather than go the headrest DVD player route, I usually end up talking to her.

Neal Pollack's got a big thesis that hipsters [sic] are gonna be screwed later because their kids'll reject the soundtracks they've been forced to listen to by their well-meaning, rock'n'rollin' parents. I can't imagine my kid'll be anything but grateful for not having to listen to Garrison freakin' Keillor all the time, but what happens when her daily soundtrack is her parents?

What does your kid hear all day? Or in the car, anyway?


For the most part in my car, it's gonna be CDs -- largely Dave Matthews Band, with assorted Coldplay, Robert Randolph, Damien Rice, etc thrown in. Having him hate DMB down the road would seriously make me cry, but then again, some of my earliest and most favorite memories are jamming along with my sisters' disco, soul, and R&B stuff tunes. The coolness factor with parental music vs. sibling music could have been an issue, but with any luck there'll some degree of just recognizing GOOD music, even if it is your dorky dad who listens to it.

Our daughter loves everything from the Japanese kiddie folk song CDs and classical music we played when she was a newborn, to R&B, rock, hiphop, anything. Lately, her favourite tune to dance to is "C is for Cookie" (played off Youtube, thanks, Greg!), barely edging out her previous favourite, Madonna's "Hung Up". (although the kid doing the cookie monster dance isn't nearly as funny as watching a 17 month year old stick out her hip in front of the mirror in imitation of Madonna in her onesie, er, leotard...)

mary lou lord, belle and sebastian, mountain goats. not in the car, at home. generally seems to relax her. we put the news on when she sleeps

forgot: garrison keillor gives all of us the heebee jeebees

alas, NPR all day, nearly everyday until the evening crabbiness, then it is a cd - usually rock-a-billy calms my 1 year old son, go figure. In the car it is CDs, anything from jazz, to the White Strips to Orff

My proudest progeny music moment? My 4 year old daughter saying "Louder, Daddy!" from the backseat. The song on the CD player? Beastie Boys - Sabotage... *sniff*

I freakin' love Garrison Keillor.

If I'm ever tired or lonesome, all I need is that deep buttery voice singing some granny ass song to put me in a good mood. I'm serious. Anybody who has such a hardcore dedication to homespun folksiness can't be all that bad.

Plus, because of the car soundtrack factor as a kid, all I need is that ugly big-headed mofo talkin 'bout tomaters or lutefisk and I am out like a light.

[I am so confused now, because you're so cool otherwise...maybe it's my own unreformably dark soul, but I just can't help thinking there's a cynical calculation behind the folksiness. and that somewhere in their cold, Lutheran hearts, Minnesotans really can't stand the guy, and resent being asked about him the way I hated being asked about the Osmonds growing up. -ed.]

Alas, my NPR days are pretty much over as well. Though we do make an effort to listen to This American Life when it is on. It's pretty damn hard to hear a word of it though, with our 3 yr old insistently chattering away. She wants music, usually Dan Zanes or Music for Aardvarks, but I'm sick to death of it and trying to wean her away. I'm picking grown-up music that is pretty easily singable to start with though, like Beatles, REM, Simon & Garfunkle. We try Bebel Gilberto, Kid Loco, Thievery Corporation, etc but she usually vetoes these (and by veto I mean SHRIEKS until we turn it off). She will tolerate Mozart and Bach but only just.

Well, I somehow wound up liking most of the music my parents listened to when I was young (though I have to say I'm not as passionate about the Beach Boys as I was in my single-digit years). The sound of Garrison Keillor just brings back memories of the drive back home from my grandparents' house, semi-conscious in the back of the car. Good times.

Still, I don't much care for the Rippingtons. Or smooth jazz. Blech!

I once heard a nickname for Garrison K that is very apt:
"The Breather"
Must be all that Minnesota ragweed or something.

Not only am I from Minnesota, I'm from Garrison's actual *hometown* in Minnesota (Anoka, FWIW). As a result, I've gotta be a Civic Pride Role Model for the little chip. Besides, now that I no longer live there, Prairie Home is the only way for me to relive my own childhood. Ah, those stuffy church basement potluck dinners...never again, never again.

Lightning Bolt, Frog Eyes, and Pelican. \m/ o_o \m/

Isn't Garrison Keillor the guy who sued the maker of "A Prairie Ho Companion" tee shirts? (The answer is yes)

[That's right. thanks for reminding me. Rex is an online friend of mine. Bad Garrison. -ed]

My boy Max loves all kinds of music. His recent favorites are Matisyahu's "King Without a Crown," Van Halen's "Ice Cream Man," and a bunch of tracks from Gnarls Barkley's "St. Elsewhere."

The all-time favorites, though, are from Music Together and They Might Be Giants' "No!"

Rock on!

I love Garrisson Keillor, but I know he will not be my kids idea of a great time. They are aged 7 to 19. In the car, it's either on NPR, or I have CD's in. My 7 year old loves me to play my Moody Blues, or Yes. She gets to hear her Laurie Berkner Band stuff, and the three teens have their headsets on, so they listen to whatever they want. If we are driving to another state, we usually talk; not so much radio or cd music.

You've all got great things going on in your cars, and for the most part, especially those of you with younger kids, your children are not going to grow up to hate the music/radio to which your parents made you listen.

Just pay attention to your kids! Talk when they want to talk and ANY background music is going to be remembered well by them. If your parents listened to Keillor they probably weren't always doing a good job listening to you. However, if your children (like my girls) aren't talking, you can probably tell whether they like the music you're listening to. Mine are 9 month old twins; one likes classical, the other Rob Zombie. But they both like Coldplay and Sufjan Stevens.

My best advice: give them what they want. If they want you, turn down the music and talk. Otherwise, if they like newscasters, fine. If Garrison Keillor, fine. If Rob Zombie (my wife's music, not mine) then tolerate it. Even Raffi! What they'll remember, years down the road, is that car trips were fun with you. Remember, these little ones grow up to remember what their time with YOU was like. I'm a child psychologist, and I spend my time dealing with children who don't like the time (or lack thereof) that they have spent with their parents. I have learned a lot about what not to do with my 9-month old angels.

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