In the past week, there have been several incidents that have caused me to question how well I’ve raised my children. No, no- no one got arrested or got a call from MTV to be on “Teen Mom.” Those things just happen; they’re not a parent’s fault. Here is where I blame myself:
1. Whitney Houston died and several household teens were not familiar with her.
2. One of my kids told me she only likes a couple Bruce Springsteen songs.
3. That same child also asked me during the Grammys why Stevie Wonder was wearing sunglasses indoors.
A louder wakeup call I have never heard.
A couple years ago, Rosanne Cash covered an album full of songs that were pulled from a list her late father had compiled for her years earlier and deemed “essential”. Like me, Johnny also apparently at some point had an epiphany/moment of alarm about his daughter’s familiarity with important songs and artists. I think that Johnny and I are probably very similar types of parents.
You can’t argue with Mr. Cash, so I decided to follow his lead and compile a list of songs for my children that would be representative of significant artists and songs that predated them. Since time began in 1968 when I was born, that was my starting point. I chose a song from the Top 10 each year up until the year my oldest daughter was born. Trust me when I say that all quality artists were on hiatus in 1988- I had little to choose from. Otherwise, I think this is a good sampling.
I considered thoughtfully making a CD for each child to lovingly add to their own collection and listen to diligently, knowing that their mother had compiled it with care. I also thought about the CDs never quite getting transferred to their iPods and my hard work going to waste.
Just as my dogs won’t take pills unless they’re wrapped in the smallest square of cheese (at which point the squishy mess becomes a delicacy), so I must use stealth in my approach with this list. Perhaps while the youngsters are eating a delicious home cooked dinner, they will also notice the sweet sounds of The Eagles or Prince in the background. And thus they will be a bit wiser and more cultured. Worst case scenario: someday one of the songs will be the answer to a trivia question. It’s all good.
Be a good parent and compile a list of your own (or use mine). It’s certainly a more enjoyable task than potty training or having one of those awkward sex talks, and it’s equally important. Enjoy!
1968 – “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding)
1969 – “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
1970 – “Layla” (Derek and the Dominos)
1971 – “American Pie” (Don McLean)
1972 – “I’ll Take You There” (The Staples Singers)
1973 – “Piano Man” (Billy Joel)
1974 – “No Woman, No Cry” (Bob Marley)
1975 – “Born to Run” (Bruce Springsteen)
1976 – “Hotel California” (The Eagles)
1977 – “Dreams” (Fleetwood Mac)
1978 – “Roxanne” (The Police)
1979 – “London Calling” (The Clash)
1980 – “Another One Bites the Dust” (Queen)
1981 – “Start Me Up” (Rolling Stones)
1982 – “Billie Jean” (Michael Jackson)
1983 – “Jump” (Van Halen)
1984 – “When Doves Cry” (Prince)
1985 – “How Will I Know” (Whitney Houston)
1986 – “Sledgehammer” (Peter Gabriel)
1987 – “With or Without You” (U2)
1988 – “She Drives Me Crazy” (Fine Young Cannibals)
1989 – “Like a Prayer” (Madonna)
1990 – “Nothing Compares 2 U” – Sinéad O’Connor
1991 – “Losing My Religion” (R.E.M.)