When people find out that I have two young kids, they invariably say, “Well, they’ll keep you young.” To which I reply, “Yup, if they don’t kill me first.” Both of these sentiments have held true during our coronavirus/COVID-19 quarantine here in southeast Michigan. But as we shelter in place, I’m reminded what a thrill it is to experience the joy of discovery through my children’s eyes. For these lucky little sprites, having a father in his 50s means discovering classic rock. ee-YEAH! Fortunately, this has not been a problem.
My daughter Lucy was born in 2011. I’d dusted off my old Dual turntable a year or so prior to her arrival and, like many music heads, started rebuilding my vinyl collection. She spent time rocking in her car seat on the counter of UHF Records in Royal Oak where we live. And then we’d rock out at home with the new records I’d scored.
I’ve always done a fair amount of daddy day care, so in those days we whiled away lazy mornings and long afternoons listening to a lot of rock records and classic jazz. Lucy, like most kids, loved music from the start. And she is no format snob. For her, music comes on a big round black piece of plastic, or a shiny reflective disc, or on Mumma’s phone or some other digital device. But she gravitated to records for the album art; the colors and crazy graphics and photos captivated her.
She even liked the spines of the record jackets. So when she stopped grabbing records off the shelf and chucking them around, I started letting her choose our tunes. Going only by the spines, the following were her first vinyl picks at age 3:
REM: Dead Letter Office
Led Zeppelin II
Queen: Sheer Heart Attack
Chic: C’est Chic
Pretenders: Get Close
Bruce Springsteen: Born in the USA
Lucy’s brother Ian came along in 2016. Ian really digs the whole mechanical aspect of playing records. My Dual has an automatic tone arm and he still likes to watch the arm lift, the record start spinning and the needle touch down on the vinyl. In the early days, we listened to Beatles ’65 — a lot. “I Am the Walrus” from Magical Mystery Tour was (almost) guaranteed to get him to sleep.
But the times they were a-changin’ for Dada’s record habit. I knew when I paid $25 for a VG pressing of Rush’s Moving Pictures (a record that would’ve been $3 around the time Lucy was born) that vinyl record collecting had become a much more expensive proposition. So I dusted off my old Philips CD 80 and started acquiring VG+ and mint CDs for anywhere from free to $5.
My burgeoning CD collection was “cataloged” on the floor under the table upon which the stereo sits. Ian became fascinated with the jewel cases and the shiny little Frisbees inside. He could play with liner-note inserts and discs for hours. I finally had to put the really good stuff up out of the way. By age 3 he was already a discerning connoisseur of music and, as it turns out, he prefers the sound of CDs.
Like I did with his sister, I let Ian start picking out the tunes. He would flip through the discs on the floor and make his selections based upon the picture on the cover. Then I would let him load the discs himself. Choosing discs solely by the CD cover art, these are his first DJ disc picks at the age of 3:
Stone Temple Pilots: Core
Indigo Girls: Rights of Passage
REM: Life’s Rich Pageant
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
These picks probably say as much about me as they do about the kids, and to their credit, they rocked out to each one. Quarantine has presented a unique opportunity to share a lot of great family time (and occasionally get on each other’s remaining nerve). Through it all, music has proven to be essential. But the takeaways I’d like to emphasize are as follows: kids like music, kids like pictures, records got expensive and CDs are a less-expensive way to collect great music. Be well and look out for each other.