Raise the flags, and let the music play

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 18, 2001

For those who don’t know it already, I am here to tell it — school has opened back up.

Not that it wasn’t just wonderful to hear the pitter-patter of little feet around the house all summer long, but it just seemed like the thing to do (send them back to increase their intellectual knowledge, now that there has been sufficient time to relax the gray matter), all things considered.

Two of ours started their freshman year at Greenville High School on Monday, and to hear them talk, they were each the only one stressed out over going to a new school.

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Personally, I don’t remember being that apprehensive, but then, I was just proud to be advancing another year, instead of being retained in the same grade (I wasn’t the most attentive student — words like apathetic and indifferent come to mind whenever I think of the narratives that accompanied my grade reports home).

Basically, I just had several other places, in fact, any other place to be instead of in school for eight hours each day.

My first real job was as a dishwasher at a &uot;reservations only&uot; restaurant. My friend, Chris DeSchenes was the middle son of the owners of the restaurant, some four miles east of the George Washington Bridge, conveniently located on NJ State Hwy. No. 4.

The name of the place was the Carriage Club, and they featured waiters and waitresses that sang currently popular Broadway show tunes.

Chris and I were away from the dining room and the lounge, however, listening to the likes of Led Zepplin &uot;Four&uot; (you know, the album with the picture of the old man carrying a bundle of sticks), Pink Floyd’s &uot;Animals&uot; and &uot;Dark side of the moon,&uot; Black Sabbath (with Ozzy Osborne and Randy Rhodes), just anything that could be heard loud enough over the noise of the dishwashing machine.

While we were getting paid by the proceeds derived by diners who came to hear such songs as &uot;Mame,&uot; &uot;Hello Dolly,&uot; and &uot;The Wiz,&uot; we were listening to the hardest rock we could get our cassette player to play (and, I might add, the loudest).

But that brings me to an interesting topic of discussion around my home of late.

Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten the art of individualism, with regard to musical preference.

Or maybe it was the fact that I had become comfortable with the fact that our kids were starting to listen to country music back in July.

But about a week or two ago, they started listening to hip-hop and rap music again, and without thinking, I started to ignore that individualism they were exercising.

What made me realize that they should be allowed to listen to what they want, was partly when my wife, infinitely wise for her young age, pointed out to me my druthers when I was their age.

Looking back over nearly a hundred years of memories, I saw her point.

My parents listened to the likes of Buck Owens, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Roy Clark, Slim Whitman, and just about anyone else that could be seen on the famous TV show &uot;Hee Haw.&uot;

Whenever a suggestion was made to listen to rock music, they would change the station to something that was playing what I called &uot;Doo Wop&uot; (the original rock and roll music), and now, thinking about it, when the kids have asked to hear rock music, I have changed the station to something that plays Floyd, Zepplin, Ozzy, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Eric Clapton, or anything else that fit into &uot;my&uot; definition of rock music.

Point is, I should be more sympathetic to the rap, hip-hop, and boys’ bands than I really am, and maybe we could all get along a little better.

What was really the pinnacle of my inspiration into this understanding was the program I watched on VH-1 Sunday night.

It chronicled changes in musical styles and preferences, and while the music I was listening to as I went through adolescence and teen years was risque’ to some, we thought it was great, even filled with its subtle innuendoes of sex and violence.

Which brings me back to what is there today.

Music today is just a bolder step into the same territory it was treading through when I was young, and having said that, I publicly apologize to all five of my kids for having criticized their choices of music.

That is not to say that when I want to listen to music I will listen to their preferred choice of genre, but rather that I understand their right to free expression, and will attempt, as I am sure my parents did (although my mother also was more tolerant than my father) to overlook what might not be personally appealing to my auditory nerves.

Until next week, you know where you will be able to find me. I’ll be the old metal-head rocker out there in Deep Left Field.