Monday, June 20, 2005


...say so much, right? Barbara Nicolosi gets a tip of the cap for directing me to one journalist's list of the Top 25 saddest songs ever written.

I’ve listened to or have heard of several of these, and it’s a good start. There are several not there, of course, but this is enough. (I would have added several more by Pink Floyd or Roger Waters, and included my all-time saddy “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin, although his is at least a warning of what can happen if we don’t take time for our children.)

But the point Barbara makes is a good one:

Music is very important. The songs in your heart can give you either inner hope and joy, or inner meaninglessness and cynicism. I always marvel how parents can just shrug off what their kids are listening to.

This is so true. Once I began listening to music in my early teens, my whole demeanor changed. I went from a pretty happy-go-lucky kid, to one obsessed with sadness and darkness. At one point my mom was worried that I was going to commit suicide, not because I spoke about it, but because the music I listened to was so damned depressing. I finally recognized this in my later years of college, and since then have eliminated a good portion of my music collection that was so dark. At one time I wanted to leave those recordings for my kids (imagine that…ack!), but now wouldn’t dream of foisting that rubbish upon them. Instead my book collection will be their heirloom.

It’s also why I have a difficult time listening to country music, or country music of the early 90s before it became a musical genre like all the others, obsessed with money and sex. Sure, there’s still a song now and then about how my-wife-left-me-and-took-the-dog-and-my-pickup-died variety, but they are few and far between. I related to country a lot in the early 90s when a relationship of four years went down the tubes, as I felt like those songs were “talking to me”, but if I listen to them now they seem tired and pointless. It’s the same with the blues (my favorite genre). I’m married, a father, a prayerful man…I don’t HAVE the blues. Well, at least not like THAT.

My nine-year-old son wants his own boombox or CD-player for his room. But that means he’ll need music to play there. I don’t see or hear anything produced by the music industry today that I think he’s ready to hear yet. I guess that’s why last month I bought five older Bill Cosby recordings from the 1960s, the ones that I grew up listening to when I was his age, playing them on an old turntable (remember those?). I’d rather he listen to the exploits of Ol' Weird Harold, Crying Charlie, and Fat Albert than “Comfortably Numb”.


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