This weekend, since Frozen was sold-out, we decided to have a movie night at the house instead: We rented Monsters University. (Which we loved, by the way!)
There is a scene where the monsters are in a training course, in which they have to avoid being seen by teenagers, who are most easily identified by their cliché phrases, like “nobody understands me” and “whatever.”
It reminded me: You’re going to be a teenager in about 10 years. I guess that means you’re going to feel misunderstood; even by me, a person who is very passionate about understanding you.
That sounds challenging. I guess I’ll figure it out as I go, like I’ve been doing since you’ve been born.
I can tell you this much, music will play a big part in your life at that time. What I wonder is, what kind of music will you be into during that phase of your life?
By the time I was in junior high, the 1993-1994 school year, it became evident to me that “all the cool boys” were listening to rap music, specifically, Snoop Dogg.
As we made our way through high school, rap music still seemed to be the preferred choice of music for guys who I would consider the most popular, and therefore, conspicuously trendy.
(Meanwhile, I was listening to Weezer, Green Day, Smashing Pumpkins, and Third Eye Blind, instead.)
And that’s an interesting point, I think. Here’s my theory: From the early 1950’s until the early 1990’s, for about 4 decades, rock music was considered rebellious by both parents and teenagers.
It used to be that it was in rock music where it was easiest to find edgier subject matter matched with “vocals lower in the mix,” meaning the instruments were turned up proportionally louder than in most other music; therefore, it made it more difficult for parents to understand the lyrics of the songs.
But by the time Generation Y (born since circa 1981) entered adolescence (circa 1993), rap music had taken over the title of “most rebellious genre of music.”
After hearing some of the rap lyrics my friends would repeat, back in junior high, I realized that even the “most vulgar” rock songs I had ever heard, or heard of, didn’t compete with the subject matter I heard in the Snoop Dogg songs.
The way I see it, rock music is no longer considered rebellious by teens or parents. In fact, a lot of pop music is much cruder than rock music; especially when infused with rap.
My observation is that the “explicit lyrics” sticker is more likely to show up on rap albums, or rap-infused pop albums, than it is rock albums.
It seems that teen boys are naturally drawn to the type of music which is perceived (by both the parent and the teen) as the most rebellious.
Seriously, when’s the last time I heard anybody complain about a raunchy, irreverent, or vulgar rock song?
I just don’t see how rock music is rebellious anymore. When I think of a really good rock group out right now, I think of Imagine Dragons. (They are one of my favorites! I would love to see them when they come to Nashville!)
But even then, the band’s Mormon roots show up. Not a curse word in the entire album; instead it contains several subtle spiritual references throughout, but not rebellious ones.
Because rock music is no longer rebellious.
As for now, I am ten years away from finding out what “rebellious music” you will choose.
You’ve met Jack’s friends Henry and Sophie before. Well, this past Saturday morning all of us parents decided to get together so we could see how our kids play in an environment with each other outside of their daycare.
After a delicious and glorious breakfast at Henry’s house, Henry’s dad suggested we could check out the “drum circle” going on just a few blocks away.
Honestly, I had no idea what a drum circle was, but it sounded random and therefore enticing… so it was fine by me.
The nine of us made our way to a white tent, covering a man playing a giant bongo drum. In his midst were plenty of chairs for visitors and various sized of bongos for us all to play on.
I guess the concept is that you just show up and drum along to the beat, letting friendly conversations and positive vibes do the rest.
Henry and Sophie seemed to get it. As for Jack, he was more of a skeptic. The tambourine seemed to be more his speed; of course while holding a yellow car he snatched from Henry’s house.
“Jack is like the old man telling the hippies to get out of his yard playing that crazy music,” Henry’s dad pointed out.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.
I did think it was funny how while we were there, it was pretty much just us parents and toddlers. The event was similar to many of the scenes in the movie Garden State.
If only Jack were able to remember going to the drum circle when he was 18 months-old, he would say, “Hey dad, remember that time we went to that weird tent where that guy was playing a drum for no reason and we all were supposed to play along? Well, what was that all about? And weren’t Henry and Sophie there too?”
As I tell this story now, it sounds more like a strange dream; which is how most of my childhood memories remain in my mind.
But really, it was the perfect morning. What better way to spend it than with friends all trying something exciting and new… and random.
Those kinds of memories are the best. Shared experiences that in hindsight seem abstract and even pointless.
That’s what adds character to friendship; even for toddlers.
Not to mention, it was free to go to the drum circle. Not even an awkward tip jar.
Being a parent means you organize chaos, everyday. But in the end, what you do is magnificent; even if no one is there to say it.
2. It contains a lot of incoherent babbling. Some jazz contains no singing; some contains wonderful, well thought-out lyrics. But a good amount of it contains scat singing; you know, that “doobidy-bop-bah-dah” stuff, as featured at the end of the theme song for Full House, that uses the human voice as an instrument during breaks from singing actual words.
Being a dad keeps me in constant states of deep thoughts. This whole parenting thing is more than just survival of the human race.
Instead, it’s more about me becoming a better person through sacrifice of myself. It’s about sharing my moral beliefs, love of art, and wonder of the world with a soul who I helped bring into existence.
That’s pretty deep, man. Parenting will do that to you. So will jazz.
It’s one of the most masculine yet sensitive songs I can think of.
One of my hopes as a dad blogger is that parents will be able to identify with what is going through my head when they read my Dadabase posts; to make readers say, “That’s exactly how I feel! It’s like you’re reading my mind!” I am a guy who loves to inspire others as much as I love to be inspired; I am always ready for that next awesome quote or motivational true story.
As a guy who loves music (I own over 700 CD’s,) I am regularly a-ha’d (to be made to say “a-ha!”) by song lyrics. In fact, I think songwriting is one of the most vulnerable forms of communication and/or art that exists. I can easily write a new 400+ word entry for the Dadabase every day and never feel as exposed as I would compared to if I was writing and performing a song instead.
It was the 1995 movie Mr. Holland’s Opus that truly first exposed me to John Lennon. At the end of the movie, Mr. Holland (played by Richard Dreyfus) sings and signs the song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon. I am not the kind of guy that will cry when I see a sad movie. But… I will confidently admit to letting my eyes get a little bit watery when I see something truly moving- like the last five minutes of the final episode of Lost or the ending of half of the Rocky movies or heck… even Marley and Me.
Needless to say, since the first time I saw it, that scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus has always found a way to connect to the “truly moved” part of my brain. It’s not just the imperfectness and realness of how Richard Dreyfus sings the song but also because the genius of the way John Lennon’s lyrics are so cleverly played out as a disconnected father reaches out to his son.
And I know that the word “genius” is thrown around pretty loosely in the entertainment world, especially when it comes to legendary Italian-American movie directors like Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorcese whose films are known for being “groundbreaking” as well as extremely violent. But sometimes, an artist actually is genius, despite the cliché factor of the word. And since John Lennon pulled it off perfectly in “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” I feel compelled to expose the magic behind his wonderful creation.
As a father, John Lennon touched on several major elements of the father-son connection in the 114 words of the song. The first verse addresses his fatherly role of protector:
“Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here.”
I think there’s something immeasurably powerful in the phrase, “your daddy’s here.” Because no matter what our own relationship with our father was like growing up, every kid wants to know the presence of a positive, protective father. “Daddy” does have the power to scare the monster away.
Next, John Lennon touched on the importance of encouragement:
“Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Everyday in every way,
It’s getting better and better.”
This verse is a reminder for me to pray for my son when I am inclined to worry for him instead. Additionally, John Lennon paints a positive future for his son as he focuses on things getting better as they move forward, not dwelling on past mistakes and decisions.
My favorite part of the song is the bridge, which paints not only the masculine element of adventure but also the excitement of the father looking forward to his son growing up and becoming a man with him:
“Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime.”
The lyrics of the song come to a close with the final chorus refrain of “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… beautiful boy.” And then finally John Lennon calls his son by name: “Darling Sean.” I think for the past several decades, the idea of a father kissing his son on the cheek or forehead or calling his son “beautiful” has become pretty foreign. In fact, those outward expressions of a father’s love do indeed make me think of old Italian culture I’ve seen in movies throughout my life. Blame it on the ¼ Italian blood running through my veins, but I admire those ideas enough to want to replicate them in my relationship with my own son.
The last verse contains one of John Lennon’s most famous quotes:
Before you cross the street,
Take my hand, “Life is what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans.”
I of all people know what’s like to carefully plan every year of my life, only to see a completely different reality come to fruition. (Are you like so tempted right now to copy and paste “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans” as your Facebook status update and/or Twitter?)
“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” which was released as a single on November 17, 1980, just a few weeks before John Lennon was killed and a few months before I was born, obviously speaks to me as a father. Looking back on past Dadabase entries, I have specifically written about the same exact aspects of the father-son relationship as John Lennon wrote about in the song:
Strength, guidance, courage, adventure, direction, and the appreciation of beauty.
The song’s subtle magic exists in these properties of manhood that we men already identify with, even if we don’t realize it. And that’s why it’s dang near impossible for a father not to relate to and love this song.