Rocky Mountain High

When I was about eleven, I suddenly came into my own musically. All of the years I’d spent content with my parent’s show tunes and 50’s songs were out the window, and I wanted to rock.

It started with the Rolling Stones, as so many things do. I listened to “Paint it Black” over and over again, head bobbing violently with the chorus. My mom would pull the earphones off my yellow Walkman and lean in, face full of concern. “Don’t you want to listen to something else?” she’d say hopefully, only to be met by my best Billy Idol sneer and the clapping of the headpiece back to my ear.

The Rolling Stones were followed by Aerosmith. I’ll never know exactly what the tipping point was…maybe it was the dance she caught me doing to “Walk This Way”, screaming into my hairbrush. But something spurred my mom to action.

The next time I went to retrieve my precious cache of dubbed tapes from under my bed, they were gone. In their stead were three pristine tapes, intact in their plastic wrappers. They were “The Nutcracker Suite”, “John Denver’s Greatest Hits”, and something by Anne Murray.

Don’t get me wrong…I love me some Rocky Mountain High and Songbird, but Ballet? Really, Mom?
I hurtled downstairs, furiously brandishing the evidence. “Where’s my tapes? And why did you give me this BABY music?”

My mom tried to reason with me. “Sweetie, I just think you’re too young for all that wildness. Music should be UPLIFTING. It should be GOOD for you, not drag you down.”

Bleeeah, I thought. That sounded suspiciously churchlike to me. Raised in wooden pews and on hymns, I wanted the flip side of music. Once I’d heard the bassline of rock and roll, there was no going back. I wanted to dance with the devil. I wanted some FUN.

After that, there was an impasse. My mom wanted me to still be a sweet little girl with two braids, and I wanted to be…well, you know. Anything but that.

I think I probably would have been a rebel regardless of whether my mom came down on me or not…she may have actually done us both a favor by giving me such a concrete wall to bang my head into. But our years of pink hair and illicit piercings and ripped jeans started a little earlier than most. The John Denver debacle of 1982 was a match to the haystack of angst waiting to ignite.

And now that I have a 12 year old, I kind of see her point. So far, though, he likes everything I like. I’m sure that will change momentarily.

Do you try to influence what your kids listen to? Where would you draw a line?

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Comments (3)

  1. Sugar Sunday - 21 / 09 / 2008 Reply
    My oldest daughter used to love 98 Degrees and all the other Boy Bands of the late 90s. I used to feel so disappointed that she was listening to pre-fab music. My husband and I tried our hardest to get her to listen to better music. She kept telling us to "turn it down" when we'd rock out to our old 80s "crap". I was so sad... where had I gone wrong, I wondered. *sigh* Eventually, she saw the light. She was recently rockin' out at that little music festival in San Francisco. You might have heard about it... Outside Lands. I was so proud. (My mom and grandma HATED my music. I always liked theirs. Didn't get it...)
  2. Brenda - SeriouslyMama Wednesday - 24 / 09 / 2008 Reply
    I think we are sisters separated at birth. My mom also stole all of my tapes and replaced them with the likes of Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Billy Joel. Don't get me wrong, I am a Billy fan now but when I was 11? Oh how I slammed a few doors that year! My mom still talks about me asking to go see Pink Floyd when I was 10.
  3. Jo G. Sunday - 28 / 09 / 2008 Reply
    You put me high upon a pedestal, so high that I could almost see eternity. You needed me. You needed me. I wish I could say I was as cool as you were but my secret shame is that I unwittingly taped over my brother's Led Zeppelin bootlegs with some fresh Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. He almost passed out. At the time, I had no clue why.

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