We rarely listen to traditional radio. You can tell because Warren is fascinated when I turn it on and he actually hears commercials. Instead we listen to our iPod in the car and the internet radio on the computer. While we’re home, we usually do a mixture of kids’ songs and regular ones. In the car, it’s mostly not something from Sesame Street. Annoying radio ads aside, I’m mostly leery of all that is out there and the rotten stuff that they play on the airwaves. Stuff you don’t even realize is bad until you’re well into the song.
Some time back, before Maddie was even around, I was in the car with Warren when he started singing along with the song playing off our iPod playlist.
“…illuminate the no’s on their vacancy signs…”
The song? It’s Death Cab For Cutie‘s “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark.” Pretty deep lyrics, I never imagined that he’d pay attention to, let alone remember the words.
It got me thinking about what kinds of songs I’m personally exposing to my kids.
Even with our hand-picked playlists, lyrics sometimes pop up that take me by surprise or make me wince that Warren has noticed.
“Mama, why do her eyes burn like cigarettes?” he asked after the 100th time he’d heard “Short Skirt/Long Jacket.” Oh, Cake, you and your quirky lyrics and fun sound. I’d forgotten about your subtle questionable word choices.
So, despite noble intentions, providing musical variety definitely requires more careful attention on my part. I’ve found that Pandora‘s explicit lyrics filter can only do so much. Even turned on, it doesn’t consider the theme when filtering, just the actual lyrics. That’s why when ‘Kids With Guns’ came on my hip hop station, Warren was a little distressed.
“That’s a bad song, Mama,” he said as he rated it “thumbs down.” At least he recognizes it now. What will he think in 10 years? In 5? Will he want to censor such songs or will he consider them benign?
I’ve realized even more how inspiring music really is– for good or bad. What we hear–the music and lyrics–sticks with us, sometimes permanently. Putting an idea to music is a surefire way to recall it later. And so what are we trying to remember when we listen to songs? What am I choosing for myself and my family to ingrain into memory? What are the messages I want to be pondering in my subconscious as the music floats around in there?
It’s made me look at the music I listen to in a greater light. Something I thought I had covered, but perhaps needs more refining. I’ve also tried to play church music more often in our home.
I’m not naive. The bad stuff can’t completely be avoided. The kids will hear it– their friends will play it, they’ll hear it in the stores and on the streets. I just hope that, as they think about the music played on our stereo, the songs that come to mind are positive ones.