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My kids' musical hit list -- a manically cheerful, perhaps seizure-inducing sonic soup of Dan Zanes, Jessica Harper, John Lithgow, Laurie Berkner, Carole King and others -- has been the soundtrack of their lives ever since they first learned to kill time.
But for me, listening to my kids' music has always been a chore. For years, I craved harder, edgier, sexier music -- songs with teeth. But some unwritten law says my children had to be protected from toxic influences like the wail of an electric guitar, a mumbled verse, or a rap about anything other than food groups and proper hygiene.
Then one day, my kids grew a preference -- or at least they began to recognize that "kids music" could also be very, very annoying. They started rejecting the clap-friendly, crisply-articulated songs of their youth. Gone were "Froggie Went a-Courtin," "(Don’t Give Me That) Broccoli," and "Sunny Old Sun". And good riddance.
Excited, I wanted to help wean -- no, tear -- my kids from their music, but feared the siren songs of Disney's manufactured teen pop stars would waste no time filling the void. Moving from Dan Zanes to Miley Cyrus is hardly a trade-up.
So I made a major, radical intervention. Muting my conscience, I impulsively exposed the kids to my highly-eclectic, highly-uncensored '70s-'90s-drenched personal playlist.
As each song played, I checked my kids' reactions in the rear view mirror. No one's head exploded; no one's mouth foamed; no one’s innocence lost. They patiently listened and voted. I took careful notes.
They gave their thumbs up to almost every song with a hard beat and a catchy chorus -- "Groove is in the Heart," "Bust a Move," "Just What I Needed," "Jessie’s Girl," "MmmBop," "Sure Shot", and "Toxic" (Yes, those last two are from Beastie Boys and Britney Spears -- it wasn’t like I was going to excite them with Barry Manilow.)
I know what you're thinking: Put together, these songs are about sex, porn, lust, addiction, succotash wishes and... uhhh... mmmbop. But it's thrilling to finally be able to listen to music with my kids without wanting to drive into a tree. We're all right there with Rick Springfield as he painfully pines for his bud's girlfriend. (Why can't that nice boy find himself a woman like that?)
Yes, the themes are not always PG-13, but by the time my children are old enough to decipher adult lyrics, it'll be too late to save them from creepy songs like "Birthday Sex" anyway. So, no offense to Mr. Zanes and Father Goose, but we we'll be comin' round a different mountain when we come. And don't come looking for us.