Sunday Post 21: The Holy Spirit or Insanity?

Posted by Danny

I often find my most spiritual times in the car alone.  Last week was no exception. 

Sunday night I dropped the girls off at Lake Gaston for the first week of summer.  I’m smart enough to know that although I will miss them, time away to recharge – for all of us – is healthy.  Because of a dance rehearsal, we didn’t get to the lake house until 11 pm and  I had about a two-hour drive home after that.

As I hit the back roads on my journey home, I turned off the ipod and began to pray. 

God, what’s this all about?  Can you use this situation for good?  What do you want me to do?  Is it writing?  Speaking?  Spending time with others suffering from loss?  What do you have in store?

God, prove to me that she’s OK.  I need concrete proof.  Show me!  (I realized and admitted that my request was evidence of a lack of faith – but I think He allows me that space.)

God, let me talk to her – a dream, anything.

As the drive progressed, I turned my music back on and my mind drifted to other things. 

About 20 minutes later, one of my favorite songs came on.  It’s a Kenny Chesney song, Out Last Night.  For the first ten years of our marriage, I cracked on Lisa for her affinity for country music.  I was not a fan and had no intention of becoming one.  But my diligent wife ignored my resistance.  “You’ll like this one,” she’d say in a convincing tone.  With Kenny, she was right. 

I sang aloud, glad that I was alone.  My ipod was on shuffle so the next song could have been Kanye West or the Cheeta Sisters.  Instead, it was another country tune Lisa had shared with me – Roll With Me by Montgomery Gentry, another of my favorites.  A smile came across my face.  I knew all of the words and again, I sang as loud as I could, a Nashville star in the making.

When Back When I Knew It All, another Gentry tune and Lisa recommendation, randomly followed, I started laughing.  A unexplicable peace filled my soul right on I-95 South.  Loud bursts of laughter paired with uncontrollable tears overtook me.  I felt a connection with something I could not see.  I continued to sing – my hand outstretched searching for hers – like so many times before.

As the song came to a close I wondered if this had just been a fluke. 

The next song was not country.  It was by Mariah Carey – Touch My Body.  It has sort of mature theme but I really like the tune.  Unfortunately, I was not very discreet when I played it and one time when it came on in the car and my good wife was in the passenger seat, Michelle started singing all of the lyrics at the top of her voice.  Boy, did I get a lecture!  “You’ve been playing this song in the car with our six-year-old?  What if she starts singing ‘touch my body’ on the St. Timothy’s School playground?  What are you thinking?”

It took two notes for me to recognize the tune.  The laughter was louder and contentment filled me.  There aren’t any other four songs that had more meaning to Lisa and to me than these.

Did God answer my request?  Was I truly connecting with Lisa?  Was this His proof? 

Or am I just wishful or crazy?  Searching for something to grasp on to.

I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  But tonight a friend told me to just accept it and be thankful for the joy it brought for that short period of time.  I think I will.

“Just Because You’re A Parent Doesn’t Mean You Have To Be Lame”

Posted by Uncle Jesse

I’ve seen this Toyota ad several times recently. It definitely hits close to home in our family. I like it because based on this kid’s definition of “lame”, I am the lamest uncle/parent in the world:

Two preliminary observations: 1) these kids can hate all they want, but that is a fantastic song (more on that below) and 2) I respect how the parents toss in some pretty strong harmony on the “just touch my cheek before you leave me” line.

The Tanner girls know this scene all too well. When I first moved in with the family Danny and I were usually splitting mornings driving the girls to school and driving Lisa to the hospital for chemotherapy and other various treatments.

And most of the mornings I drove to school, I would try to get a loud, upbeat, thumping song in queue on my iPod just in time for the pull-in to the drop-off line. Despite the fact that it was winter, I’d roll the windows down. Everyone at the school knew when the Tanner family was being dropped off.

The girls hated it, or at least acted like they did. But even as they rolled their eyes and moved briskly away from the minivan, I could see a few smiles–at least from their friends.

Anyone got the code to my lame car's lame stereo system? I've got lame songs to sing.

In the Fall I had to get the battery changed in the minivan, which triggered a security measure in the super high-tech 1999 Honda Odyssey’s stereo system that locked it up until someone entered the code. Only one person knew the code (and she’s laughing at me from heaven). Danny has tried, I have tried, the radio is still locked. The car is silent.

But I need to get that thing fixed. The girls have been getting off way light on the embarrassing starts to the school days when I drive. Their Dad, for the record, is like the parent in the other car in the ad–calmly driving his fancy car with DVD and TV screens in the back, so it’s not like the Tanner girls have it that bad when it comes to getting around.

See, my philosophy as a parent (or “parent” or pseudo-parent or whatever I am) is that taking great care and effort not to embarrass your child is worthless, because ultimately you’re going to slip up–or they’re just going to change the rules as to what counts as embarrassing–and your kid WILL be mortified. So I do the opposite. I ALWAYS embarrass the Tanner girls. I wear goofy clothes. I play my music loudly and sing along over top of it. I call out to them from across crowded spaces. I dance when I should just be walking. I try to make hip-sounding references around their friends that I know are tragically un-hip.

But it works in my favor in a few ways. The first is that by continually being unabashed about abashing them, I water down what it means to be embarrassed. They’re used to it, they expect it. They’ve gotten over it, accept it’s going to happen and don’t get very flustered when it does. Sometimes they even smile. The second reason it works is because on the rare occasions I do exercise a little class and dignity around them and do my best not to embarrass–like when we had a bunch of kids from the 8th grade over for dinner before a school dance–it is actually appreciated.

And the third reason? Well, DJ clued the other two into this one early on during the “loud music in the mornings” routine. As we would make the turn into the school driveway and the girls would see my hand go for the volume knob, they would play their part.

“Noooo, don’t play the loud music!” Stephanie and Michelle would dutifully cry, bound by the rules of childhood to fight any efforts to be noticed because of something their parent (or uncle) was doing.

“Why do you guys even bother,” DJ explained to them, bookbag already on shoulder, ready to sprint for the nearest buidling. “You know he’s just going to do it anyway.”

And she’s exactly right. I do it because I want them to know that it’s not going to stop, and that I’m not going anywhere.

Oh yeah, as for “Angel Of The Morning”–it IS a great song, and here’s my favorite version of it (sorry, Juice Newton fans, this one is waaaay better):

And here, as far as I can tell, is the original one. Pretty risque for its time now that I think about it. Also cool how the military-like “rat-tat-tat-tat” to start each line survived to the Juice Newton/Pretenders versions:

One Day You Will Pay For This, Ke$ha

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.

  • Tanner Tweets

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 11,915 other followers
  • Past Posts

  • Contact Us