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Archive for March, 2011

One of the great pleasure in my life has been playing music for my children. The teenager does his own aural thing these days, but the K! child is always ready to swing and sway to whatever hits the old man’s stereo, and I love throwing her cultural curveballs.

There’s been a lot of Bowie, Iggy Pop, The White Stripes and Daft Punk among many others, but I have had particular happiness playing her Bowie. A small sizzle travels up my spine and shivers my eyelids when we listen to ‘Jean Genie’ or ‘Suffragette City’ or ‘Heroes’ and recently, after my wife got me Moonage Daydream (the book Bowie did with photographer Mick Rock about the Ziggy era of Bowie) I had the pleasure of sitting with the K! girl and going through the pages.
“Ha ha ha,” she roared, “he looks like a lady-man!”
I explained that he did and that what was so goddam cool about him, always, was that he didn’t give a good Goddamn because this is what he needed to do.
“He was,” I said with great gusto, “a pioneer!”
“What’s a pioneer?”
“Someone who leads the way doing something new and exciting.”
Yeah, Bowie might’ve taken a bit from here and a bit from there, but no-one ever sported a ginger trojan spike-helmet hairdo, make-up and a one-piece women’s bathing leotard while singing’wham bam thank you ma’am!’ before he did, and no-one ever made it so goddam COOL to be DIFFERENT…

…my Dad was different.
He’d spend hours deliberating the placement of a period in a sentence.
He hated working in offices.
He held a 5 hour vigil when Lennon died and we weren’t allowed to speak.
He spent too much money on the best stereo you could buy in the mid-70s and we took family trips to Huntington as it was service; I was bewildered as to what we were doing but we did it.
He had long hair for quite a while.
He played music. Lots of music. Lots of Bowie, The Stranglers, Ian Dury, Iggy Pop…I remember their faces. I remember Bowie’s face blaring from the poster which was underneath my Dad’s desk in the far corner of the living room, and I remember staring at the ‘Aladdin Sane’ and ‘Diamond Dogs’ sleeves, their electric cartoon colors connecting with something deep inside.
I remember when I first heard ‘Low’…it was a hot summer, ’76, and ‘Speed Of Life’ became my vision of that time. When I hear it now, I can feel the heat and see our tomato plants, bright green and red, on our balcony, me staring into the sky watching jets far far away leaving their trails of smoke and me wondering if I would ever, ever get to go on one to America…

…I watch the K! girl’s face as we look at photos in the book, and the moment she starts to lose interest I close it and we start reading another book. But I soon thereafter play the music, and she says to me, ‘Is that David Bowie? Is Iggy Pop with him on this song?’ and for some reason it makes me very emotional.

Am I traveling a path laid down my own father? Probably. But I am doing it directly with her, walking it with her, enjoying it with her not simply putting it on regardless…

…but it doesn’t matter why my Dad played the music, the fact remains he played it and he played it in front of me. He didn’t wait until I was in bed, he slapped it on right away and we laughed and listened in the same room, sometimes even together.

Today, the K! girl just led off the school talent show with a Myley Cyrus number ‘Best Of Both Worlds.’ She sang it acapella with two other girls, but I’m not just saying this, her voice was by far the loudest and truest; she led the way and enjoyed every second…

…so thanks for the music Dad…and time to put some White Stripes on for the K! girl.

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