Recently, I found myself listening to one of my Noughties playlists in the car with my precocious 6-year-old daughter, whose musical taste doesn’t normally go beyond the latest twee-pop stylings of Taylor Swift or Little Mix. She’d basically tuned out to my voice and the background music in the car, until she heard a particular track over the speakers – ‘Black Horse and the Cherry Tree’, by KT Tunstall – which seemed to rouse her and get her nodding her head to the beat, like she’d been captivated in a musical spell of some kind. “This is BRILLIANT!” came her exclamation. “Is it in the charts?” “Sweetheart, this song is 10 years old. It came out well before you were born”. “Oh.” She replied, the disappointment evident in her voice. “So dad, is this classical music?”
Needless to say, I suddenly felt very old and ensured the rest of the short journey from school to home was virtually silent on my part, my daughter no longer seeing me as the cool Dad I believe myself to be.
The reason for my sudden descent into apparent ‘old age’ was that, despite me trying to maintain myself as a Hip Dad (not to be confused with Hipster Dad – I cannot cultivate the ridiculously overgrown beard), my own eclectic musical taste stays resolutely stuck in the past. Even now, as I’m writing this piece, the teen-angst-ridden tones of Papa Roach’s ‘Last Resort’ from 2000 is playing loudly in the background to remind me that I was once an angry young(er) man.
That night, I went through my music collection and can safely say that at least three-quarters of it is firmly rooted in the last 30 years – from Tears For Fears, Prefab Sprout and Level 42 in the 80’s, via The Stone Roses, Oasis and Jeff Buckley in the 90’s, leading through to Keane and Coldplay into the new Millennium. I happily and confidently predicted the last two bands would be huge – how right I was (at the time, at least). Don’t get me wrong, I am often listening to new music and am extolling the musical virtues of bands like CHVRCHES or artists such as Jack Garratt, but there seems to be a welcome familiarity when I hear certain tracks from way back in my past.
I can’t help but think back to my teenage rebellion when I hear ‘Shout’ by Tears For Fears, or the irony of my first kiss hearing the refrains of ‘Leaving Me Now’ by Level 42, to sitting forlorn and drunk in a pub beer garden as England were knocked out of the 2002 World Cup whenever Oasis’s ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’ is played. As I flicked through the seemingly endless list of albums I possess, I came to the sudden realisation that the “classical” music my daughter referred to is, in fact, “classic” music to me. Each album – whether on CD or downloaded – is a snapshot into various points of my life, poignant in its own way, the entire collection a slideshow reminding me of scenes as I went from boy to man.
I explained this to my daughter as she watched a Little Mix video on YouTube. “Ohhhh, so one day I’ll remember One Direction and Katy Perry and Little Mix and Tay-Tay’s songs and think of when I was at school, then?” “Yes”, I replied. “You’ll think of them…and some good music too.” She’s now not talking to me. Maybe these Little Mix tickets I’ve got will help to ease the pain…