I got to indulge in one of my favorite pastimes today- being alone in the car, blasting music. It's a rare thing for me since I became a mother. With PJ in the car I have to watch the content and the volume of the music choices but when I'm alone, I love to blast whatever music is playing and sing at the top of my lungs. I set my iPhone on "Shuffle" and the car filled with "America" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Levon" by Elton John, "Pet Sounds" by The Beach Boys. It was mixed in with some LL Cool J, Britney Spears, and the soundtrack to the movie "Pitch Perfect."
As the songs ticked by, I started thinking about my taste in music and where it came from. The answer to that is, largely, from my parents. I can score the entire soundtrack of my childhood with the music my parents listened to in the car. My parents had control over the radio, and the music from two Philadelphia stations (Oldies 98 and WMGK Magic 103) would flood the car during every drive. Not all of their choices stuck- I passed on my Mom's penchant for John Denver and my Dad's taste in The Doors (yuck). But I can see now exactly where my parents taste in music influenced my own. I prefer gorgeous voices, lyrics that tell a story, amazing harmonies. Simon and Garfunkel, Elton John, The Beach Boys, Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, The Eurythmics, and Motown, Motown, Motown- I can see myself sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car, singing those songs.
My musical preferences expanded as I got older. School choirs gave me a taste of classical music and my own love of singing took me right to the music of Broadway. A few questionable choices snuck in here and there (ahemDebbie Gibson) and new talents came onto my radar as musical trends changed. But if you take my favorite band from my 20's and 30's, Barenaked Ladies, and draw a line it goes directly to The Beach Boys. The powerhouse vocals of Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy? Draw the line to Art Garfunkel, one of my favorite voices of all time. If you made a flowchart of every song I added to my catalog, they would all trace back to the songs I listened to in my parent’s car.
I'm 37 now, and most of the things I do in my life revolve around my son. PJ dictates the games we play, the places we go, the movies we watch and the music we listen to in the house. But in the car, Mommy chooses the music, just as my parents did. Of course, some of it is censored. We don't listen to the soundtrack from The Book of Mormon (hoooooo, boy! Bad words!). But when I set a playlist, PJ gets a taste of the music that makes his parents happy. I am certainly not a perfect person. I make mistakes, every day, but the music I grew up on helped shape the person I am today. That music gave me my love of words, my love of telling stories, my love of theatrics and my love of beautiful sounds. Apparently, that is something that can be passed on from the front seat of car to the back.