What Do You Play for the Kid Who’s Heard Everything?

IMAG1283-1I have a two-year old son. Basically since he could move, I’ve been thrusting any and all manner of musical instrument and/or music in general in his direction, hoping that something will stick, that he’ll have the same kind of excitement and love for it all that I have. He has a xylophone. He has a little drum kit. He has this little dog-guitar thing that plays notes as barks. I’ve seen his face light up whenever I play the guitar or piano, a big smile spreading across his face. Sometimes we’ll hear him singing little gibberish songs to himself through the baby monitor at night before he falls asleep or at the crack of dawn when he wakes up. We sing to him all the time. I play music for him all the time…kid’s songs, oldies, bubblegum pop, and all the stuff I listen to from folk to hip-hop to jazz to heavy metal. This kid is surrounded by music. If something doesn’t take right away, I’ll bookmark it to try again later. Eventually, he’ll be ready for Weird Al. Eventually, he’ll find They Might Be Giants to be as delightful as his parents do.

It is interesting though, to see what he does like, either at six months or two years, or into the future. When he was an infant, he really seemed to enjoy “Stand” by REM, which is awesome because who doesn’t enjoy “Stand” by REM? It’s great. It’s also kind of funny since he could not actually stand at the time. That song soon gave way to a lot of little kid focused music, sing-a-longs from the television shows he watches, or simply singing his ABC’s. He loves that.

The little dog-guitar thing

The little dog-guitar thing

As the kiddo’s been growing up, I’ve also played a lot of stuff for him that would probably be deemed inappropriate wherein his age is concerned, bad language and cacophonous noises and such. Though, when he was only a couple of months old, I think he liked black metal band Wolves in the Throne Room’s Celestial Lineage just fine. And just last week it was the soothing sounds of Killer Mike’s “Reagan” that lulled the little guy to sleep on the drive home from his grandmother’s house. Hell, my son saw Run the Jewels in concert at a music festival before he even turned two.

He spent the majority of that afternoon playing with rocks, throwing a ball, and running around in a circle. Regardless of whether or not he even noticed the music, he still had fun. And I want music to be fun.


IMAG1439-1-1It is safe to assume that there will always be music in his life. At the very least, he’ll have my large collection of records, CD’s, and cassettes to sift through and sample as he gets older. There’s just so much that I want him to hear. I have everything from John Carpenter film scores to the Dixieland Jazz my dad used to love, experimental, ambient noise to Nancy Sinatra, hard sounds, soft sounds, and everything in between. All of which makes me curious as to what kind of music he’s actually going to be into. What will his passion or obsession be at ten years old? At thirteen? At eighteen? And more importantly, will I think it’s all crap? I listen to just about everything. What is he going to rebel with? What is he going to play at an ungodly volume to get on my nerves or under my skin? What am I not going to understand?

What will I think is infernal racket?

Every generation seemingly has some style of music to flaunt at and irritate its elders. Whether it be jazz, or rock n’ roll, or punk rock, or heavy metal, or rap, or techno, or a more extreme, intense, or vulgar version of whatever came before it, the kids don’t ever seem to be without something that can piss off their moms and dads. But, I listen to and enjoy all that stuff, so what’s my boy going to do? I’ll admit that I find the current crop of EDM artists to be annoying and almost insultingly devoid of any kind of substance. And I realize that that sentiment absolutely makes me sound like a grumpy, out-of-touch old man, but by the time my son hits his teenage years and really begins to explore music, that scene will be long since passé. Unless of course it’s experiencing a totally unnecessary, yet totally unavoidable and predictable revival period. (Future teens of the 2020’s, please pay no attention to the looming EDM revival!)

Certainly there will be something he can call his own…even if I don’t hate it. Something he can thrash around to in the garage with his friends after school or on weekends. Something I can begrudgingly take him to a live performance of when he’s still too young to drive himself. I’m looking forward to being that dad who sticks out like a sore thumb at a concert, an obvious chaperone of sorts, nodding in understanding and solidarity at all of the other parents. But, at least much more comfortable than they are.

So, it’s impossible to guess what’s in store for me down the road in ten or fifteen years, what my audio palette will be tested by, what my patience will be abused by, but that’s all okay. Even if I find his music utterly repulsive or artistically lacking, it’s still music, and there’s always a line from point A to point B, a succession of everything that came before or influenced what’s happening now. And I’ll be glad to play it all for him and talk about it long into the night. And we’ll always have “Stand.”


Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

One Response to What Do You Play for the Kid Who’s Heard Everything?
  1. Shawn C Baker

    Shawn C Baker Reply

    Fantastic article sir. I’m thinking by the time children your son’s age are looking to rebel they will eschew music and listen to people scraping tongs against metal.

    And then I’ll finally have an audience for my side project, Ba-Tonga-ville!

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