So lately, my son and I have been going ‘round and ‘round about music. His hormones are starting to kick in, and he’s developing some strident, independent tastes. The little tyke who once listened to Buckwheat Zydeco’s Choo-Choo Boogaloo on a loop for a month and later developed obsessions for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Trio’s “Da Da Da” has turned to other stuff.
“Dad, can you go on iTunes and get me some Three Days Grace?”
“Dad, I really need those two Linkin Park songs on my iPod.”
“Dad, you’re full of it. Seether rules.”
Of course, when I was eleven, I was the absolute bomb. I was impervious to peer pressure, an admirer of Duane Allman’s glissando slide guitar runs, Al Jackson’s precise Stax drum attack, and George Porter Jr.’s melodious Crescent City bass-lines. Or so I like to delude myself today.
It was my own iPod that set me straight. I was mowing the lawn one recent steambath of a Saturday morning, and instead of dialing up my usual grass-massacre playlist – heavy on the Wu-Tang, UGK and Geto Boys – I put the thing on general shuffle. And here is what popped up:
Awww yeah, Zebra’s “Who’s Behind the Door?” my favorite sixth grade jam. I vividly remember this song coming on the radio one day when my dad and I were leaving Jack Clement’s Cowboy Arms Hotel and Studio in Nashville, and me cranking it up and earnestly telling dad to check out this jam, if he dared, and watching him melt in embarassment and generational pain as the blatant rip-off of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin built from sophomoric stoner philosophy lyrics to a riotous climax of now-hilarious Star Wars sound effects.
I likewise remembered telling my dad – who then was a librarian at the Country Music Foundation in the basement of the Hall of Fame -- in all seriousness, that Alabama was the finest country music ensemble in the land, better than Merle, better than Willie, better than Waylon, better than Dolly, George, Loretta, better than them all. I based this informed opinion on one pleasant memory from my summer camp in Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains, when Alabama’s “Feels So Right” wafted out of a transistor radio over the docks while I was pleasantly day-dreaming in an inner tube on the river. At any rate, my dad was utterly mortified, as he was years later when I got deeply into the Geto Boys and NWA.
Alabama to Zebra… Who can remember now what in-filled that alphabet of questionable taste? Aw, to hell with it. Zebra still rules, dad. – John Nova Lomax
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