For better or worse, parents have an influence over the art we consume, and our personal tastes are directly influenced by theirs. You may like what you like because your dad liked it, or you may like what you like because your dad hated it. (This can apply to boys as well as music, but we shall focus on the music.)
I was one of those children who wished to impress and emulate her parents, and though my taste in music is not exactly theirs, there is no denying that it is heavily influenced by both of them, especially my father.
His biggest influence can be seen in my love for The Rolling Stones, which started at age five (when he had me memorize all of the members and their respective instruments) and reached its obsessive peak around age 19 (when I got the tongue and lips tattooed on my hip). My first concert ever was a Rolling Stones show in Birmingham, Alabama. My dad had purchased tickets to the Voodoo Lounge Tour for my tenth birthday, and he gave them to me in a card in which he had written:
Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
The Stones are in Birmingham just for you.
I remember being very confused initially — were we going rock hunting in Alabama? — but then I saw the tickets and everything clicked and I had a mini, shriek-filled, meltdown. (It was like Bieber fever, only brought on by scrawny British men in their 50's.
I remember the concert very clearly. I remember obsessing over what to wear, before settling on a green, sunflower-printed shortall situation over a green striped, snap-crotch body suit. The ensemble was punctuated with a choker made of little leather flowers. I am somewhat sure I have never looked better. I remember Jagger doing splits in the air. I remember vintage porn being played during "Honky Tonk Women." I remember freaking out and crying when my dad tried to put me on his shoulders. As far as first concert experiences go, it was an intense one, and it set the bar unfairly high for future shows.
But my almost unhealthy love for the Stones isn't the only way my father's influence over my taste in music has manifested. Here are some of the bands and recording artists he has shaped my opinion of, one way or the other.
The video for "Losing My Religion" is the first music video I ever saw, and I remember being slightly disturbed and very intrigued.
My parents had recently separated, and my dad was renting a small, one-bedroom apartment one town over. Every other weekend, my sisters and I would go to stay with him, where we would watch an odd mixture of Barney and MTV. At six, I barely understood what it meant to be "cool," but I knew it had something to do with preferring MTV over the purple dinosaur, and staying up with my dad, watching music videos felt very, very cool.
Oddly, the only one I remember actively watching is the above. I guess it caught me at exactly the right moment, because Out of Time was one of the first CDs I ever purchased, and I have always had a strange crush on Mike Mills.
My dad hates Supertramp. Hates. As a result, I'm still slightly embarrassed and overly-defensive about my affections for them. I vividly remember being in a Sonny's Barbecue in Gainesville, Florida, happily eating ribs with my father and college roommate, when "The Logical Song" began to play.
"You know, I kind of like this song," I began.
"Are you on drugs?" my father replied, in a tone that would suggest I had informed him that I was dropping out of college moving to a hippy polygamist commune to make soap out of human fat, or something equally outlandish and creepy. I apologized and finished my ribs.
If you have ever wondered why I seem slightly forceful in my musical opinions, you now know who to blame. (It is very possible you have never noticed this forcefulness unless you have gotten a certain level of drunk with me; I try to keep this aspect of my personality hidden.)
So my second concert was much less cool, and seeing school teachers wearing nothing but straw skirts and pineapple pasties was far more scarring than the whole "vintage pornography during 'Honky Tonk Women'" incident of 1996. There is no denying that Parrot Heads are pretty terrible, but I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffet, and I have a soft spot for some of his stuff, especially the stuff that isn't about sharks, margaritas, or cheeseburgers.
I don't feel great about it.
Lucinda Williams and (Inadvertently) The Band
Yeah. This one surprised me too. My dad went through a big Lucinda Williams phase, which indirectly caused me to get super into The Band. I understand if this sounds strange, but it will all become clear in a moment.
Do you remember when Starbucks used to put out those "Music That Matters to Them" compilations? They would get famous musicians to essentially make a mixed tape of their favorite songs by other artists, and they were usually pretty freaking good. I of course had the one curated by the Stones, but the Elvis Costello one might be my favorite.
Anyway, during the the height of my father's "involvement" with the music of Lucinda Williams, Starbucks released one of these compilations that was — you guessed it — curated by Williams herself. I only remember one song from the CD, because my reaction to it was extremely visceral and immediate. That song was "It Makes No Difference" by The Band, and I hated it. Rick Danko's sincere and desperate vocals registered as "whiny" to my preteen brain, and I begged my father to skip the track.
But then, a strange thing happened. A couple of weeks went by, and I found myself thinking about that song. Then I began to obsess over it. Then I bought The Band's Greatest Hits at Barnes & Noble just so I could play it and get it out of my head. (I'm sure I could have borrowed the Starbucks CD, but I was too proud.) Upon subsequent listenings, I completely reversed my opinion of Rick Danko and the rest of The Band, and have loved them with my entire being ever since.
All the Other Old Dude Music
Well, maybe not all of it, but my dad did introduce me to Bob Dylan, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, John Hiatt, Warren Zevon, The Grateful Dead, and Tom Petty. None of these have super vivid memories associated with them, but lots of enjoyable car rides and evenings reading books while some or all of the above played. (In addition to a love of the above, my dad also instilled in me a deep hatred of The Doors, which is something we still bond over to this day.)
How did your parents influence your taste in music? Do you share any favorite bands? Did you go to concerts with your dad? Did you try and use music as a bonding device or did you rebel by listening to stuff they hated?