When it comes to music, I am a fairly avid metalhead. I am a drummer and skilled air guitarist. I even rocked a mullet with pride through my teen years and well into college. As hard rock is in my blood I assumed, like other genetic traits, my headbanging passion would be passed on to my children.
When my wife and I found out we were having our first baby, I was thrilled with the notion of educating my child, girl or boy, in the artistry of classic “dad rock” legends like Eric Clapton, Neil Peart, and Pete Townsend. One of the greatest gifts I received as a father-to-be, was a set of CDs that set classic rock songs to lullaby music. While I find something somewhat insidious about playing “Stairway to Heaven” set to the chimes of a lullaby for your sleepy infant, I was secure knowing it was the right thing to do. To complete this induction, after my first daughter was born, I went out and got the perfect complementary clothing: a Rush onesie. I think at one point we had a Black Sabbath outfit, too. All to pass on my love for this music to my daughter.
Well, have you ever seen the movie This is 40? In one scene, the father (played by Paul Rudd) tries to “enhance” his daughters’ musical education. Dismissing the pop-style tween music that seems to dominate the music scene these days, he tries to introduce them to Alice in Chains. The early Alice in Chains. Steeped in brooding lyrics and heavy guitars. Specifically a song about a man trying to get home from the Vietnam War. That’s some hard-core dad rock. A tough sell for most people much less young girls. In his frustration, he comments crudely on how he wishes just one of them was a boy.
I have two daughters now. I couldn’t have ever anticipated it, but there is something unbelievably sweet about having girls that I don’t find myself yearning for a boy as many dads do. A boy who would want to rock out would be fantastic, though. … (sigh)
A Rush to dad rock heaven
A good friend and fellow dad and I used to make an annual pilgrimage to see at least one Rush concert a year when they were touring. He has a son a few years older than my daughter and this kid loves Rush. He has his favorite songs, sings along, the whole deal. When we used to go to see Rush, we’d see many dads with their sons and daughters. It was a wholesome show of great music, lasers and video. Completely family-friendly. It has been a dream of mine to someday take my daughters, when they are old enough to enjoy it, to a concert of one of my favorite bands from my youth. Of course, I fear the advancing ages of those bands may prevent it, but my bigger fear is that they simply won’t want to go.
When my eldest daughter was around 18 months, I would play many of my favorite songs for her and dance around the living room to try and get her excited by it. She would placate me for a few minutes before exclaiming, “Daddy, I don’t like this sound. Turn it off.” Every time, deflated, I would capitulate. I would tell myself, ”Well, Rush (or whatever band it was) is an acquired taste. Progressive and grunge is a tough sell. I should start with Journey or The Eagles. You know, old-school dad rock.”
Two years later, I have not had much luck. Not for a lack of trying, though.
It’s got a backbeat you can’t lose it
I came home from work last week to find my eldest daughter, now almost 4, and my wife bouncing around the apartment, elated to be singing “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepson. My daughter had an enormous grin on her face, laughing so hard she could barely sing and dance. “Again mommy,” she screamed over and over again.
She now sings the song herself on command for anyone who will listen. A tiny little piece of me cringes on the inside every time I hear it. Yes, it’s adorable and she is so full of life when she sings it and I love to hear her do it, but a part of me cringes. Every time.
The other day, my youngest daughter (9 months old) was in a teething crying fit that I could not resolve. My wife and other daughter were out. I fired up some random tunes to try and soothe her.
The raw heavy guitars of Blue Oyster Cult came on.
And, to my complete surprise, she just stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at me and smiled.
I sang the song to her and she laughed. This went on for a good 20 minutes. Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll indeed.
It never ceases to amaze me the personalities that our kids have from birth. My girls are still quite young and I won’t ever give up on their musical education. In the end they both have a deep love for music. Whether its Pink Floyd or Taylor Swift, I suppose it’s that deep love of music that I need for them. If they love their music as much as I love mine, I guess I did OK.
This article originally ran in 2013, and has been since updated. Dad rock photo by Alena Darmel via Pexels.