Music has always been an important part of my family’s life.
Mom was always an Elvis fan and I think she had a stint where she crushed a little on Barry Manilow. I might get the stink eye for that, but I distinctly remember a red vinyl cover that had a very thin, metallic-looking Manilow hunched over a baby grand.
Don’t think she had any real passion for anything else. No Billy Joel, or Crosby, Stills, and Nash, no Who or Ricky Nelson. She was more of a “get-in-here-and-do-your-homework” kinda mom.
I think I remember her liking Kenny Rogers. We went to see him at Steamboat days in 1993. Lee was VERY pregnant with Taylor Jean and I remember mom crying at “Through the Years”.
She was also at the Monkeys when they played there. I know this for a fact, because I was 19 and carrying a beer in each hand. If you were at that show you would remember there were about 10,000 people at that show and there were two veins of traffic through the show, one up to the front and one back to the beer tent.
I swear this happened. I was walking in the vein toward the front and turned around to talk to my friend who was also carrying two beers behind me. He was also 19.
When I turned back around I bumped right into this lady. She turned around, and it was my mother. I looked at her for what seemed like an hour but was actually only a moment. I handed her the beers and said, “Hey, Mom. I got these for you!” and turned immediately around and headed back.
She didn’t say a word and I would assume she turned around, laughed, and drank my beer.
But music became a part of my life very early on. My brothers weren’t really into music, but more into sports. My oldest brother believed that disco came before anything and took lessons, so Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, all were on his radar. I think he wanted to dance well so he could date well. I don’t think it worked out for him, other than he got a circle around him at junior high and high school dances.
I slipped into Rush at a young age. As I grew older I gravitated toward Van Halen, Bon Jovi, and then Linkin Park, Eminem, Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls. (Kate Lamb, you still owe me a candy bar!)
We’ve been to see Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Rush, Goo Goo Dolls over and over because Lee was a huge fan. Kelsey got a guitar pick from Johnny Rzeznik when we were in the front row and she was on my shoulder…. much, much to the chagrin of Taylor. Kelsey lost that guitar pick and in heaven, I swear, she’s blaming Taylor for stealing that pick.
We saw the Goo Goo Dolls and Counting Crows at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park near Chicago when Kelsey was about five. That’s when she got the guitar pick. The smell of marijuana got so strong during Counting Crows that we had to leave the show. Kelsey may have asked for Cheetos on the way home.
Anyway, we made sure our girls were exposed to as much culture as possible, theater, music, art, museums, things that inspire the mind. They did fine with the sciences and math, but creativity is spawned in the recesses of the brain where memories are formed. It was important to us that literature, music, and the like were an important part of their lives. And they were.
The reason I’m writing about this today is that something happened over the weekend that made me look at my 30-year-old daughter and see nothing but a 16-year-old kid.
We bought Taylor a record player because she’s into vinyls lately. Two Christmases ago we went down to Mike's and Allison Park’s Pool 19 Records and Plants and she filed through every case of LPs. She left with about eight records, some very old stuff and I was very proud. By the way, if you haven’t been in there, it’s a remarkable store and they know a little about customer service. As vinyls continue their comeback, you need to get with Mike and Allison.
But anyway, Taylor’s been punked by COVID for the past week. It hit her pretty hard, as did every vaccine she got. She’s coming out of it and she was ready for some music Saturday. She had just got some Fall Out Boy 45s. Yes, apparently they are making the comeback, too.
She put them on her record player and had no clue how to play them. She knew they were called 45 and were different records. She managed to find the spacer to put over the spindle, and turned it on. It was FOBs cover of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire', which I don’t mind. Since Billy Joel hates his version, I’ll take this one.
But she put it on and dropped the needle on 33…”WEEEEEEE DDDDIIIIIIIDDDDNNNNNNN’TTTTTT STAAAAAAARRRRRT THHHHHEEEEEEE FFFFFIIIIIIIRRRRE.
She laughed so hard, well, let’s just say she laughed really hard.
“That’s not right!”
So she started fidgeting around with the record player and found a little switch by the needle. It wasn’t marked or anything so she pressed it and the 45 started spinning faster. She put the needle down again and got the right speed of play, but then was intrigued about what would happen if she hit the button again.
She then realized what I did at about the age of 14 with my tennis racquet and REO Speedwagon. I was Gary Richrath on my bed. It was wooden racquets back then. The frets were the grip tape, and I think I played higher on the strings for high notes and lower on the tennis strings for low notes.
Taylor sent me a video of the record player running on 78 with the 45 and it was AAAAAALLLLLVINNNNN! A Fall Out Boy Chipmunk takeover and she was just cracking up.
She kept sending videos of the music with her laughing quickly and lightly in the background. It was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever heard.
This adult daughter of ours immediately turned into a 12-year-old again in a single transformation. I smiled and dropped my head listening to the video she sent via text. I longed for the days of her at home. Crying because she bit her finger eating her McDonald's french fries too fast on our Sunday trip to Mickey Ds. (That broke my heart). Refusing to eat her vegetables and sitting at the table for about an hour with her arms folded because she wasn’t excused.
It came back so fast and furious. I laughed out loud at the image in my head of this little girl giggling at the cartoonish sound coming from her record player.
There are just some things that put you in a mood and this girl, battling COVID and trying to find her energy found happiness in a 45….in 2023.
Life’s crazy mean and then God provides a moment – but that’s Beside The Point.
Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached at Charles.V@PenCityCurrent.com.
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