The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Sundays, we have established, are family days. We do our best to eliminate errands and responsibilities, so that we can spend time together. During the madness of our weeks, it is a time for the three of us to enjoy each other and our home.

We cook, we sit, we laugh, we relax. We listen to music. We have music going from breakfast through dinner, rarely turning it off – unless there’s football on TV. And even then, it’s not a guarantee. As Cal Naughton Jr. says in Talladega Nights when questioned why he has the TV and stereo on at the same time, Because I like to party.

The background music provides a soundtrack to our lives. It allows us to educate our daughter on classic music that shaped our generations. (I went to college with my favorite band as The Beach Boys. I received no such history lessons from my parents.) Now, she loves The Beatles, plays drums during Led Zeppelin songs, says “Tom Petty is cool” and sings Adele.

The music allows my wife and I to reminisce about a song, a band, a time in our lives. Memories come sweeping back through music, similar to how a smell can instantly take you to a moment in time.

One particular morning, over a plate of blueberry pancakes, The Four Seasons’ classic “You’re Just Too Good to Be True” came over the speakers. When it came time to bellow, my daughter and I shouted “I love you baby!”

Immediately afterwards, I told her that if any boy sang that song to her, to let me know.

That song’s memory does not take me to Broadway watching Jersey Boys.

Rather it takes me to Devonshire Avenue in the San Fernando Valley, riding shotgun in my mom’s 1986 Honda Civic.

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These guys probably have a lot of guys singing their songs to a lot of unimpressed girls.

My mom listened to light pop almost non-stop – it was probably an easy choice to know she was getting clean music with two kids in the car. Or, because she was a single mother, maybe it calmed her from the stress of a job and raising two children.

Either way, we were sitting at a stop light and I heard this song for the first time. The words were simple enough to learn and all I wanted to do was sing this song to a girl.

Emily Pinckney.

Of course, at eight, or nine, or 10 there was zero chance I would ever do this in front of a crowd (and now, nearing 40 – there’s still zero chance I would sing this to my wife in public, damned if it were an open mic karaoke night and an unlimited supply of booze). Still, the memory came rushing back.

It’s amazing how a song can transport you back to a singular moment in your life’s movie reel.

As we try to educate our daughter about music – and, when she hears a song on the radio she likes, she exclaims This is my song! so I think we’re doing OK – I wonder what memories she’ll have of a tune.

Will it be Van Morrison over dinner? Tom Petty on a lake in the summer? Maroon 5 in the car? The Frozen soundtrack ad nausea?

Odds are it won’t be anyone we’ve heard of just yet.

It will be fun exploring music with her, especially in a vibrant music area like Seattle. I’m looking forward to teaching her about Hendrix and Nirvana, and how each changed the music industry. I’m looking forward to taking her to live shows at the nearby zoo and wineries with some over-the-hill artists, but timeless songs. I’m even looking forward to sitting through a boy band concert with her and 15,000 other ear-piercing screaming pre-adolescent girls.

Someone hold me accountable to that last comment when my ears are bleeding the same way I’m holding my daughter accountable to letting me know if someone sings Frankie Valli to her.

Emily Pinckney, you lucked out.

In actuality, I’m the one that lucked out because I get to sing it to my two ladies on Sundays. In private.

 

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