Saturday, November 05, 2011

Expanding Musical Horizons in Young Ears

The past few weeks I've been trying to expose my daughter...  (it sounds really bad if I leave it at that, doesn't it?)  to more of "Daddy's taste in music."  The past couple of months we've been listening to The Best of 1927 (an Aussie pop band from the late 80s), Chicago 16, and Chicago 17.

At eleven when my interests started shifted firmly away from toys to music my favorite albums were Chicago 16, 17, and 18.  I listened to them incessantly.  As my taste in music matured I started exploring more and more of Chicago's back catalog.  Those eighties albums were like "gateway drugs" that started feeding my interest in exploring the band's more adventurous material from earlier in their careers.

While I now prefer their earlier material (much of which was recorded before I was even a glimmer in my parents' eyes) I still hold a soft spot in my heart for their eighties material.  If not for getting "hooked" on their later material, I might never have later discovered their more complex and interesting earlier material.

With that in mind, I figured that if I want to get my daughter interested in Chicago I should start with the same albums that initially sparked my interest.  Listening to Chicago 16 & 17 again as much as I have been the past couple of months has reminded me that despite not being as daring as their earlier material, for pop music it was still quite complex.  With the addition of Bill Champlin on keyboards and vocals in 1981 the band shifted to being a 2 keyboard band... having a keyboard-centric producer in David Foster only pushed the keyboards more to the front of the mix and relegated the horn players to reading newspapers, twiddling their thumbs, or pretending to play keyboards or guitars in music videos.  Luckily for the band, keyboards and synthesizers were the IN thing in the eighties so the shift paid off for the band.  The horns were still present on many songs but oddly enough they were absent on some of the band's biggest hits of the eighties-- Hard to Say I'm Sorry, Hard Habit to Break, You're the Inspiration, Will You Still Love Me, and Look Away for the most part lacked horns.  In all fairness, You're the Inspiration included multiple changes in key and time signature showing it to be a considerably more complex song than much of the 3/4 or 4/4, 3 chord dime-a-dozen material of that era.

So the past few days I've tried introducing Marillion and The Sons of Champlin to my daughter.  In hindsight I realize going from Chicago to the Sons of Champlin is a bit too ambitious.  While both bands have horn sections and featured Bill Champlin on vocals and keys. That kind of shift is kind of like teaching her to cook by starting with instruction on boiling water and skipping straight to making a souffle.  There need to be a few more steps between 80s pop-rock with horns and psychedelic-tinged blue-eyed soul.

My attempts introducing her to Marillion have been marginally more successful.  She's not too keen on Pseudo Silk Kimono (neither am I though) which opens the Misplaced Childhood album but she seems to enjoy Kayleigh and Lavender as both of those songs are considerably more accessible and are at least from the same era as the Chicago and 1927 material that she's come to enjoy over the past couple of months.

I'm thinking the next step is to introduce her to Toto and start dipping her toes into Chicago's 70s catalog with their Hot Streets album (probably their most pop-friendly album of the 70s).


drewzepmeister said...

That is cute!

Reminds me of when I turned my son into rock and roll. It was the cutest thing! He called Pink Floyd's "Time" the "Tick Tock Song", Bohemian Rhapsody was referred to as the "Mama Mia Song" and "The Ah Song" was the Immigrant Song".

At the age of 14, now he's into Slipknot, Hollywood Undead and screamo. I know- YUCH!

TAD said...

Plex: You never know what's gonna sink in. When he was 2, my son's favorite song was Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" (which he called "the ah-ow song"). A year later it was Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town" ("the hey-ma-ma-ma song"). After that it was Badfinger's "Day After Day." Now, 20+ years later, he's introducing me to stuff like Coheed and Cambria....
My daughter surprised me the last time we did "Kids' music-request night" when she asked for The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes," which she said was her favorite song ever. Guess I raised 'em right after all....

Barbara said...

Very sweet story. My father turned me on to the Beatles, Stones and Doors when I was 4 - 5, and it just grew from there.

I love the precious relationship you have with Sammie :)

Tender Heart Bear said...

I remember when my kids were younger and in the car I would play the music. The kids would sit in their car seats and just dance to the music. Now the just love listening to the music.

My son one day goes mom listen to this new band that came out. It was Kiss and I told him I grew up to this band. He said no way and I pulled them up on the computer and he said no way. He just couldn't believe I grew up listening to the same group as he likes. Also now he likes Lynyrd Skynryd. My boyfriend is so happy that he likes the same group he likes too. You should see the two of them talking about music. Sometimes you can't get them to stop.

So yes it does help to get the kids to listen to some of your music and they will listen to it when they get older. It is a great feeling as a parent to get you children to listen to the music that you like. I hope you and your daughter get the same feeling as my son and I.