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Teaching a new generation


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OK, so last weekend, my son - a Junior in high school - made the final auditions for the Governor's Honor Program in band (he plays euphonium).

It's a fairly big deal, much bigger than say, All-State.

So he asked if I would drive him and 2 others who had also made it to the auditions in Atlanta (about a 2-hour drive), and of course I agreed.

To the best of my knowledge, the other 2 are juniors, as well; a caucasian boy - David, African-American girl - Ariel, and my son Dana who is mixed.

Truly a mixed-bad of ethnicity and possible musical tastes.

On the ride up early Saturday morning, like typical teens, they slept.

The CD player in my old Yukon is pretty frustrating, it hardly reads discs anymore, so it's a crapshoot at best to hear my tunes, so I got a cassette adapter so that I could play music through my new 64 GB iPod Touch, which I am growing to really love - it's such an awesome adult toy.

Anyway, any road trip for me involves jamming tunes at volume.

By "at volume", I don't mean eardrum-piercing, just loud enough to really feel the bass, and get the "full effect".

It's how I stay focused / awake / alive / etc. on long drives.

So the ride there was uneventful, and a rather long day just sitting and waiting - parents weren't allowed to see auditions, weren't even allowed beyond the main lobby area.

They finished around 4:30 or so, and after food, fuel, snacks etc. for the ride back, we headed out.

While we were riding around throughout the day, I just played random tunes in the background, which they pretty much talked over / ignored.

But now that we were hitting the Interstate, it was time to resume jamming.

I started with 10,000 Days by Tool.

At the end of the first song - Vicarious - I heard Ariel say something to the effect of "OMG that was intense!"

She leaned up and asked me the name of the group and album.

I told her, and asked if either had ever heard any Tool before.


So I said, "well, if you liked that, it only gets better!"

By the time we got to the end of Rosetta Stoned, they were pretty much blown away.

I decided that since they were now properly sensitized to the jam, I'd go old-school on 'em, and selected Presence.

Of course it's probably my son Dana's favorite road-trip album, which influenced my decision to play it, as well.

Again, at the end of Achilles' Last Stand, they were absolutely floored.

I figured I'd really put the icing on the cake by informing them that the album was over 33 years old.

"I used to jam this when I was y'all's age."

We finished Presence, and then I switched over to some new stuff my son wanted to play for them since we were almost home.

I'd like to think I opened a couple doors in their musical awareness / development.

Perhaps "kicked in" might be more accurate.

At the very least, I'm sure I shattered a few pre-conceptions about the music parents listen to. lulz.

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Did you hear on the news today that the Guitar Hero game is being discontinued? One of the reasons cited was the decline of rock music's popularity with young people. Rap and r&b is more popular. This is a sad state of affairs, IMO - not about the video game but the twilight of rock music.

I suppose one could debate endlessly about the reasons why. Rock music today isn't as compelling (speaking generally), there don't seem to be as many massively talented artists as in days of yore - but this is true of r&b as well. We've gone from Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin to the Black Eyed Peas and whatever thuggish rap star is popular this month.

Was it rock's lack of inclusivity (women, people of color, etc.) that contributed to its decline? [i'm speaking from a U.S. perspective - maybe it's different in other countries, maybe it isn't] I still remember the decision that radio programmers made in the late 90's to exclude most female artists from their playlists. Aside from Melissa Etheridge and rock critic Ann Powers, nobody had much to say about it, shockingly. You may recall that due to the popularity of alternative music, Lilith Fair, etc. some female artists had been doing very well up to that point. But the programmers wanted to boost their young male audience, and went for the more aggressive Nirvana and AIC clones that modern rock radio plays now.

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Yeah it was great.

I remember back in '94 I went back to Orlando, and a couple friends had become mostly country-music fans (Alan Jackson, John Anderson, etc.).

After catching a nice buzz, I played Tool's Undertow, and they were back onboard the hard rock wagon.

Sometimes they just need a little re-orientation.

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I did that when my son's were younger. Took them to see Page & Plant, a few other bands and of course, they heard all of my records and CD's from the era. They have their own tastes and I must admit, quite varied tastes for young guy's their age. I'm not sure that I personally had anything to do with that but I'm glad they aren't as one dimensional as so many of their friends are.

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