Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Parental Predicament - Buying CDs for My Daughter




I was talking about kids and music with a guitarist friend of mine a few weeks ago. A father of a couple of teenagers, he remarked that one really has to reconsider all of the bashing of Contemporary Christian Music that all of us musician Christians engage in. His point was that there's so much crap you don't want your kids listening to because of the words and messages being promoted by the artists that maybe CCM isn't that bad after all. Though I thought what he was saying was interesting it didn't seem all that relevant to my life because my kids are both pretty young.

Well life comes up on you pretty quickly! For Christmas my daughter asked for a boom box. So my wife went out and got her one. No big deal right? Wrong. We had not thought this thing through very well. A boom box means that she'll want to play CDs. And CDs are very powerful things aren’t they. Since she doesn't have any CDs of her own, I felt the burden to step up and fulfill the great calling of music provider. I wasn't too intimidated about the buying her a few CDs because after all I'm a musician and a lover of music. How hard could it be? However, as I stood in the CD section of Target trying to find something that I approved of both for its musical value and its lyrical content, the weight of the task began to descend on my holiday-stressed shoulders.

I immediately felt like such a dad as I looked at the latest pop albums.
"I can't believe what folks are wearing on the covers of these CDs."
"I don't want my daughter listening to this crap! She'll want to grow up and be a thug or dope dealer or a stripper!"

So then I strolled over for a look at the country music section. It was certainly a lot more wholesome looking but I couldn't get past the fact that it was country music, or should I say a certain very commercialized type of country music. I had no problem with getting her a Johnny Cash CD if I thought she would listen to it but that ain't going to happen. And besides the man in black isn’t the type of country music they are selling in the country music section these days.

After disappointing perusals of Pop and Country music I reluctantly brought myself to look at the latest offerings from CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) artists, which, while not singing about dope, sex, and grills, were pretty low on the artistic scale. I even caught myself thinking of that conversation with my friend.

I thought to myself, "Why does it matter if the music she listens to is not all that great artistically if she likes it and the lyrics are at the very least clean?"

I was flirting with compromise. I almost had myself talked into buying her a Wow compilation of songs from Stephen Curtis Chapman, Mary Mary, and Michael W. Smith but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

My hopes were fading.
“Maybe we should just scrap the whole giving her a boom box thing until we have a year to think the music thing through?”

Wearily I turned my attention to the soundtrack section.

There I glimpsed a few CDs from Disney. My daughter would be thrilled if I got her the newest Disney channel soundtracks. The only problem is I’ve seen enough of the shows to know that the CDs will be filled with nothing but sugarcoated pop songs about cute boys and tweeny romance. Though my daughter is still under the illusion that daddy's going to let her date guys before she's 30 years old, I will not contribute to the lie by buying that dribble for her. Sorry Disney!

I figure my daughter is at an age where she will still think that the CD's I buy her are cool (as long as I don't try and give her Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson.) If I'm lucky I have a window of a couple of years where I can have input on music without seeming like an out-of-touch curmudgeon. What I faced in Target that day was much bigger than simply buying a couple of CDs. These CDs could very well be some of the fundamental pieces of music that would contribute to her taste in music for years to come. Believe it or not I still listen to some of the CDs my dad turned me onto in those impressionable years of my own life. Thank God my dad had a real aversion to Michael Jackson, which he passed onto me at a time when Jackson's career was peaking (remember Thriller?) I might have turned out to be a much different musician if my dad hadn't intervened with some good music like Dire Straits, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. As for my daughter, who knows she may just become a musician herself. If that's the case then the burden is even bigger to get her heading in a good direction musically.

So after a few minutes of stress and on the verge of failure, my eyes landed on the Curious George soundtrack by Jack Johnson and Friends. I knew the music would be good and since it was the soundtrack to Curious George the lyrics should be appropriate for her. This was the type of CD I had been looking for. I was pleasantly surprised when, after opening presents on Christmas morning, we gave the CD a spin. The music was good as expected and the lyrics were about sharing and recycling and making a difference in the world. Ben Harper even does a cheerier version of "My Own Two Hands" on the CD (one of my favorite Ben Harper songs.) Score! I can only hope for more CDs like this one.

I also got her another CD - More Than Ever, Live From the Rockies. I guess I have to take advantage of the fact that she still thinks it's cool to have a CD with a couple of songs from her dad on it. I've got to enjoy it while it lasts.

My little boy got the DVD of the Pixar movie Cars for Christmas as well. I figure I'll have to get that soundtrack next. It's not bad. In fact it's pretty good. I can even tolerate the rocked up country version of "Life is a Highway".

I've threatened for years to do a Children's album.
If I can't find more CDs out there I may just have to...

3 comments:

randall said...

Hey Crispin, I can definitely relate to this and found your predicament familiar and amusing. I have endeavored to steer my kids musical tastes over the years and have watched my sons go from the 'disney and soundtracks' stage to an appreciation for music I enjoy as well. My 14 year old is a huge fan of U2 and Rush and tries to learn to play his bass like good ol' Geddy ;). He and I were playing some Rush recently when my wife said 'turn that off, it's annoying' and my 'tween' daughter said 'yeah!' I of course took this as a challenge, especially since she drives my 14 year old crazy by playing Cats and Phantom of the Opera on both her CD player and the piano. The next time we were in the car (without my wife) I told her "so you like songs with stories, huh?" and then told her here's one with a story about a place where society is ruled by politico-religious fanatics (ala Islam, tho we didn't go into that ;) who decide what is best for everyone else. Then one day a man finds an electric guitar and learns how to play it and realizes what a gift music would be to the rest of humanity. Of course the rulers disagree and make him stop and he decides life in such a place isn't worth living (led to another conversation) and later the planet is rescued by an older and wiser race. She really dug the song and gained an appreciation for the group. The song? Of course '2112' by Rush ;)

randall said...

Hey Crispin, I can definitely relate to this and found your predicament familiar and amusing. I have endeavored to steer my kids musical tastes over the years and have watched my sons go from the 'disney and soundtracks' stage to an appreciation for music I enjoy as well. My 14 year old is a huge fan of U2 and Rush and tries to learn to play his bass like good ol' Geddy ;). He and I were playing some Rush recently when my wife said 'turn that off, it's annoying' and my 'tween' daughter said 'yeah!' I of course took this as a challenge, especially since she drives my 14 year old crazy by playing Cats and Phantom of the Opera on both her CD player and the piano. The next time we were in the car (without my wife) I told her "so you like songs with stories, huh?" and then told her here's one with a story about a place where society is ruled by politico-religious fanatics (ala Islam, tho we didn't go into that ;) who decide what is best for everyone else. Then one day a man finds an electric guitar and learns how to play it and realizes what a gift music would be to the rest of humanity. Of course the rulers disagree and make him stop and he decides life in such a place isn't worth living (led to another conversation) and later the planet is rescued by an older and wiser race. She really dug the song and gained an appreciation for the group. The song? Of course '2112' by Rush ;)

jeansonne said...

HA! I think you just might eventually be CCM's biggest buyer before this whole thing is over. 89.1 FM here comes Crispin. My kids are only 1 and 2 years old, but recently Micah has started actually singing along with the words to songs that he hears often, so even now I'm finding that I need to be a little more careful about what I am listening to and letting him listen to.
Anyway, I also got a Jack Johnson CD for Christmas - In Between Dreams. Good disc, possibly even good for the kids. Also got the new Damien Rice - 9. Definitely NOT for the kids.