Posted by Uncle Jesse
[note: to watch/listen to the songs in this post, just click the YouTube button you see on the player and it will play in a new screen. I don’t know why they make things so difficult. Or maybe I’m just not that good at blogging…]
Music is a big part of the Tanner household. In my family, Lisa, my other sister Sallie, and I were all raised singing four-part harmony in Pops’ van on road trips. Pre-bedtime sing-a-longs with Pops strumming guitar or family Christmas caroling sessions with Nana on the piano were not rare occurrences. There is even a ragged, old, yellow binder literally overflowing with the Christmas collection that I remember from childhood that at some point was passed down to Lisa for sharing with the girls. Danny downplays it, but he’s pretty talented musically as well, able enough that he can basically sight-read any of the “teacher” parts of the piano songs Stephanie and Michelle practice for their lessons. DJ took piano for a few years–recently she’s been messing around with Pops’ old guitar, and I’ve showed her a few things…actually we probably need to pick that back up in 2011.
And the girls are all pretty gifted musicians, certainly as far as singing is concerned. Sometimes I even daydream about them being them becoming a famous trio of singing sisters, like Hanson. Don’t worry, I would never let them do this:
But more importantly, I have made it my mission that not only will music continue to be a big part of the family, but it will be good music. So a few years ago for Christmas I started giving DJ one solid, all-time great CD to listen to. I think the first one may have been The Beatles’ One album. There was a Billy Joel two-disc set (I do have to cater somewhat to music I think she’d enjoy at a young age…I couldn’t try to push Pavement’s Wowee Zowee on her at age 10).
I was also all too happy to volunteer to set up Lisa’s iPod when she got one that basically became the family iPod–I wanted to make sure that among the Disney and Jesse McCartney there was some Tom Petty and some Prince and, yes, even a little Public Enemy.
This year I gave DJ one of my all-time favorites, and one I grew to love at her age now, 13, or maybe even younger: Paul Simon’s Graceland
(for the record, “You Can Call Me Al” is not in my top 5 songs off this album, but the video with Chevy Chase is pretty classic/unforgettable)
I also decided it was time to bring the other two into the fray. On Christmas Eve I spent about 90 minutes poring through the used CDs (back off, we’re in a recession) at Schoolkids Records on Hillsborough Street (support local!) trying to pick out the right album for each girl. I nearly snagged U2’s Joshua Tree for Steph, but instead opted for a classic soul album that had about 35 or so GREAT Motown and other soul hits. She’s probably the most likely of the three girls to bend her tastes to what you tell her is good, so I figured that would be an easy sell.
For Michelle I had decided I was going to introduce her to one of the great all-time female artists. She has recently become more aware of her voice, and she loves to sing tunes for a small, comfortable audience. A few baby-sitters have even remarked what a good, strong voice she has. I even finally made her learn all the words to the Alicia Keys part of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” because I got tired of hearing:
In New Yooooooork, na-na-na-na-na na na MADE of, there’s nothing you CAN’T doo-oo…
I also learned how to crudely bang out the chords to it so she and Stephanie could sing with accompaniment. Now I just have to learn all of Jay-Z’s part and we could hit an open mic night somewhere. Anyway….
I was thinking Carole King for Michelle. I recalled at one point I had known the main piano riff to “I Feel The Earth Move” and figured with a little practice I could make that a song we could sing together. And King, with her powerful pipes, would be a great influence for Michelle. But I settled on another female vocalist, Janis Joplin, and I was ok with that, too. Hey, with used CDs your options are limited.
Well, I should not have been surprised when, on Christmas Day, all three CDs were met with looks of, “Who the heck is this?” I believe Michelle even remarked that the lady on the CD (Joplin) looked “weird”. But I figured since I was setting up the girls’ new iPods, I could give my music a prominent place in the rotation. I even considered only loading the new music I had purchased on the the iPods, and then claiming that I was having trouble putting songs on for some reason and could they just deal with one or two albums worth of music for now? (kids buy that kind of stuff all the time, but in the end I felt a little too manipulative going that route)
But, no. For a week straight, there has only been one song heard in the Tanner house. And these fancy new iPods don’t even need headphones to blast the offending track, so Michelle walks around the house with hers at top volume. She’s like a mini-Radio Raheem, only she never runs out of batteries.
The song? You guessed it:
Well at least the 36 million hits this affront to music has gotten on YouTube let me know that I’m not suffering alone. But I swear by the ghost of Janis Joplin, you will pay for this one day, Ke$ha. Now go to rehab or go try acting already and stop making my job as Tanner family music maven so difficult. Thanks.