Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Sometimes it dawns on you, with no provocation at all, that your parents were totally square when you were a kid.
For instance, I was just doing some math in my head and realized that in 1963 my folks were twenty-eight and twenty-nine years old (Mom and Dad, respectively). A good age, I think, not just to have been aware of Bob Dylan but to have embraced him as probably the coolest thing on the air at the time. The Beatles hadn’t arrived yet, but even the The Beatles might have seemed pretty teenybopper at the beginning, with all those screaming girls. But Dylan was serious and fresh and had forced folk music to evolve away from the stuff sung by Irish lads in thick white fisherman’s sweaters (as Elvis Costello always refers to). He was a force to be reckoned with.
I was only six, but all I remember on the stereo back then was Ray Coniff LPs and the soundtrack to The Music Man. My dad had some Dixieland records in rotation, and at least one disc featuring the haunting sounds of the Scottish bagpipes. But there was no Bob Dylan, no Coltrane, no Monk, no Anita O’Day, no blues. Definitely no soul.
Why weren’t my parents cool enough to get into Bob Dylan?
Instead, as I grew older, Dad acquired several albums by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, which was fun enough for an eight-year-old to bounce around to, but by then AM radio had some pretty great stuff – all of which Mom and Dad were seemingly oblivious to. Mom discovered Tom Jones in there somewhere, and that set us back further, especially when it began to hit me as I turned ten or so that I was living in a musical sensory deprivation tank. An older kid down the block sat on his front steps with a guitar and played “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream, and I’m going, “What the bejesus is that?” And I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in their Sergeant Pepper outfits and went, “They’re different now, aren’t they?”
As I became pubescent and my parents got divorced, I started trying to educate Mom. I’d play my own records on the family turntable, exposing her to Blind Faith and Traffic and Led Zeppelin. She countered with the Partridge Family. I gave her FM radio when we were in the car. She flipped to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.”
Meanwhile, when we visited my dad in California, he promptly popped a Liza Minelli 8-track into the deck, and I freaked out. His record collection was eclectic, but he definitely listed toward what used to be called “easy listening” and is now referred to as “torture.” I started praying when I was fifteen that I wouldn’t inherit his LPs.
This is all just one way of saying that I’m glad I don’t have children, because I’m sure I would seem as square to them as my folks seemed to me. The coolest music I have is at least fifty years old and played by people like Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Sarah Vaughan, Kenny Burrell. No doubt my kids would say I’m hopelessly stuck in the past because I can’t handle Kendrick Lamar or XXXTentacion. And they’d flip their lids when I told them they were just like me when I was their age, as I sit back with The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan on the t’table.