For a lot of us, music becomes a really huge part of our lives when we are just kids, and remains a passion until the day we die.
We find the first songs that we ever discover through our parents, usually, and the records or 8-tracks or cassettes that they share with us from the moments we are first able to move around. We dance across laminate floors, our tiny feet flipping to a rhythm that bores into us in the most basic and purest way known to man.
It crawls in our ear holes and tickles our brain and our heart and heats up our young blood, and before you know it: we are fully overcome by the sound of something awesome and powerful.
Only later, do we start making up our own minds about music.
We exit out the back doors of where everything was great and start our long journey through the wild vast lands of this genre or that one, keeping the things that continue to move us close to our hearts, and tossing away the many things we simply cannot afford to hold on to.
Then, much later, as parents, we get to reverse the roles and commandeer one of the most magical steering wheels we will ever have in our fists. We get to play the music that we love for our very own kids.
It’s maybe one of the most delightful things I have ever had the chance to experience, dropping the needle on a record by The Temptations or Frank Sinatra and watching my two little ones boogie across the hardwood.
Every parent gets that opportunity. And I hope we all realize what a golden one it is.
So, here is one music-lovin’ Daddy’s list of the enchanted stuff that changed his life once upon a time, and continues to do so today. Here is the stuff that I cannot wait to play for my Violet and Henry.
Bruce Springsteen 1 of 15Growing up in the suburbs of Philly during the late 70's/early 80's, I was exposed to Bruce Springsteen at a really young age. I lived in 'Bruce Country' and his music was everywhere. By the time I was 16, I was a super fan of the man and his songs. To this day, he remains my absolute all-time favorite artist. For my kids, being exposed to Bruce will be a 'must' if they ever really want to understand their daddy.
Frank Sinatra 2 of 15I have been a fan of Frank's since I was a young man. His voice, the songs he sang, his attitude, his look...all of it combined to convince me early on that this was one of the greatest singers/entertainers to ever live. And I still feel that way. Our daughter, Violet, is already a fan...though she has had little choice in the matter since Mom and Dad spin his records at least once a day!
Billie Holiday 3 of 15It's only been in the last few years that my wife and I have really gotten into Ms. Holiday's music, and thank God for that. We listen to her constantly and Violet knows her voice as soon as she hears it. I will continue to play her for them as they get older because I think she might just be the most sensational singer who ever lived.
AC/DC 4 of 15I played in a rock band for many many years and although I have moved towards listening to other types of music these days, there is still a part of me that will always be a rocker. AC/DC owns that part of me, because I think they are probably one of the greatest rock bands there ever was. My one year old son, Henry, already fist pumps/head shakes whenever Daddy puts them on...and this is a VERY good sign!
Bill Monroe And His Bluegrass Boys 5 of 15I have loved bluegrass music since I was about 12 and Bill Monroe was the absolute king of them all. His mandolin helped to create and define the sound and his tightly orchestrated bands were always a who's who of some of the very best acoustic instrumentalists on the planet. This is music steeped in tradition that makes you move you feet, no matter what. I need my kids to hear it and understand how important and wonderful it is.
Motown 6 of 15If I had to pick one music, one genre/one label, to listen to the rest of my days, it wouldn't even take me two seconds to pick Motown. Marvin Gaye, The Jackson 5, The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the list goes on and on. The songs were the best pop/RB songs ever written or recorded and the music was a paramount part of a really key era in our nation's history. My kids hear this stuff all of the time on Daddy's record player, so it's being seared into their little minds as we speak.
Little Richard 7 of 15Here is a guy that my own father played religiously for my little brother and I when we really young kids. It might be the greatest gift he ever gave me, too. Little Richard was one of the first people in the world to combine blues and gospel with a driving back-beat into two minute bits of total perfection. In the process he helped invent rock'n'roll. I get goosebumps from every single hit/near hit he ever had. I will play this for my children, stare them in the eye, and tell them,"You don't like Little Richard, then you don't get any supper."
Phil Spector 8 of 15Yeah sure, the guy is less than a role model, but his music is some of the best ever created in the modern era. The teenage Spector's talents knew no bounds; as a songwriter and a producer he was a pioneer in every sense of the word. And he put The Ronettes on the map, which scores him huge points. Plus, he created the best Christmas album ever recorded, A Christmas Gift For You. My kids start hearing that one around Halloween.
The Ramones 9 of 15What can you say about The Ramones. They were a seminal influence on damn near every band that ever mattered who came after them. They were fast and loud and melodic and exciting. They were New York City through and through. And they were unequaled then and remain so to this day. The Ramones took punk and made it their own, which was like wrestling a dinosaur from a God. I want my kids to listen to them so they can see where ALL modern rock came from.
Hank Williams 10 of 15In a short span of time, Hank Williams managed to capture the throne as the King of Real Country Music, a crown he will wear forever and ever. Hank's voice was timeless and his songs were concise and incredibly good. I love old country music and it is a hugely important part of the American canon. Any kid who gets into music has to be exposed to it, and Hank is where you start.
Sly And The Family Stone 11 of 15Sly Stone is often overlooked when the names of the true greats are mentioned and that's a shame. His music remains some of the best I have ever heard, a rallying cry to a nation engulfed in the racial tribulations of his time. On so many levels, the records he made can be said to be better than anything else that paralleled them because they were topical and literate and street and insanely bouncy and wildly soulful. Violet already loves to dance to this stuff, so I feel like I'm doing something very very right over here!
The Beatles 12 of 15The best pop-rock band ever. To deny yourself the pleasure of their music in your time on Earth is simply to deny yourself a slice of Heaven Pie. All kids need to listen to them at least a few times, so they can be exposed to something that only comes along once in the history of the world.
RUN DMC 13 of 15I am no hip-hop expert by any stretch, but I know a thing or two. And because the genre is so popular and important in this day and age, I want to expose my kids to where it all came from. Run DMC weren't the first, but they came along early on in the history of rap; their records are undeniably strong and powerful without ever resorting to the 'gangsta' thing that kind of took a lot of hip-hop down a different path. I'd also put the Beastie Boys right alongside them when I introduce my two little ones to where this ultra-modern folk music all came from.
Robert Johnson 14 of 15In order to fully appreciate the beauty and diversity of darn near anything recorded in the 20th/21st century, it really helps to be exposed to the earliest influences we have. At least I think so. That's why I will make sure my children are exposed to Robert Johnson, the Delta blues singer who only recorded a little bit of music, but whose story and voice and songs and slide-guitar style were epic influences on so much that came after him. Johnson's legend is enormous and there is much reason for that.
John Coltrane 15 of 15These days, I love jazz. I can't explain why really, I just relate to it somehow. Jazz is an American story told by so many pieces and parts that come from all over the world. It's something that really requires you to just give yourself up to it, to allow your mind and body to lay down in it's midst and just be taken over. And I really thought I'd lost that feeling with music until jazz came into my life. I close my eyes, listen to John Coltrane's masterpiece, 'A Love Supreme,' or any of the other 100+ jazz records that I spin, and I see a world of rainy crowded streets where life is so damn tough, but so damn wonderful at the same time. And I really wanna share that feeling, that magic, with the two most important people I will ever get to love.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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