. . . on bringing the music back
I WAS UPSTAIRS, drowning in a sea of odd socks during that tumultuous 10 minutes before everyone leaves the house for their day jobs, when I heard what sounded like music from the hall. This was most unusual.
While it would be going too far to say that the day my daughters were born was the day the music died, the reality is that since they came along, music designed for adult consumption has been sadly lacking in our house. And now, suddenly, here was some music rising up through the floorboards like a once loved but forgotten friend.
I don’t know how it happened. It’s as though we decided music appreciation was incompatible with parenting. You can’t really count nursery rhymes and made-up nonsense songs and Disney tunes, the fact is it’s been a long time since Dylan or The Beatles or even Beyoncé were given free rein around here. We forgot about our devotion to the Dexy’s album Don’t Stand Me Down and anything by Duke Special. We let the music fade out.
Occasionally we remembered that as well as being parents we were also people who quite liked listening to Sinead O’Connor and Sufjan Stevens and we’d crank up the iPod to listen at night while ironing. But it was always while they were in bed because I never really felt comfortable with foisting our musical tastes on them. Also, my boyfriend likes The Beautiful South and REM. Who knows where prolonged exposure to that kind of thing might lead? We did try once. We used to play Beyoncé’s All The Single Ladies on a loop when the children were very small, for example, because we noticed them jigging along when it came on. And one day when they were sick a black doctor visited with his battered leather medical bag. Beyoncé was on and he stood in our kitchen and did a funky dance and sang about putting a ring on it which floored us all. The babies were mesmerized as the doc grooved around them with a stethoscope in his ears.
This experience made us realise that adult music and children might mix. We tried for a while to be hipster parents putting on Leonard Cohen in the car but the children nearly broke the windows screaming blue murder for the seminal audio book It Was You, Blue Kangaroo.
Then a few months ago the iPod breathed its last and wasn’t replaced because after a brief consultation with the REM fan, it was deemed non-essential to the smooth running of the household. So apart from occasional bursts of Lyric FM and once a year Christmas FM, we gave up. Gave in. Gave music the old heave-ho.
I don’t think it’s the same for everyone. We have friends who watch MTV with their breakdancing toddlers but ours have no interest in poor old Rihanna. We have other friends who put their favourite classical music on every weekend and if the children don’t want to listen they can leave the room. My daughters used to tolerate me singing Adele’s Someone Like You and Popular from the musical Wicked at bedtime but now they scream “nooo, not adult songs” so I just do Two Little Boys and Tooralooraloora instead.