by Peter Brav
Oh no, here they come, the apologies to my 24 year-old son, just what you’ve been waiting for.
I know what you’re expecting. Sorry I wasn’t much better than my own father, probably worse. Sorry I didn’t warn you that my generation’s sending so many jobs and bombs overseas would make it harder for you to find work. Sorry about telling you not to act foolish; who knew there was so much money in it?!
Let’s save those for another day. This is all about the music.
It was the 1990s when you grew up and before long you were telling me excitedly that Weezer and Incubus and Nirvana and Modest Mouse were the greatest bands ever. I was laughing. I pointed you to the albums in the basement and the broken turntable. I was hitting forty when you were hitting six and I was holding onto the Eagles and the Allmans and Led Zeppelin with all the ferocity that Classic Rock stations that played nothing else afforded me. Get the Led Out, Breakfast with the Beatles, Best of Bruce.
Kid, your Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jet never had a chance with me back then. I remembered hitchhiking to see the Dead at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City and taking the subway to see Emerson, Lake & Palmer at Gaelic Park. I remembered when Jimi Hendrix and CSNY took over my life for Freda Payne and Herman’s Hermits, when WNEW-FM displaced WINS-AM and WABC-AM. Yeah, that’s right, before all the bad news and talking gibberish on the AM dial, there was music, happy, bopping single tunes in Monaural. I remembered 45s and my first stereo and my second and my giant speakers and my 8-track and making my own cassette tapes and passing on that Quad sound they were pushing. I remembered Jonathan Schwartz and Scott Muni, and the Nightbird Allison Steele and the wonderful Pete Fornatale, may they rest in peace.
You grew angry but I stood my ground. I had principles and wouldn’t placate my own son. Forty sucks, son, and fifty sucks ten years more, so excuse me if I was fixated on trying to remember all those nights of trying to get lucky to Earth, Wind & Fire’s Reasons.
But here’s the thing. You’re gone, off making a life for yourself, hopefully getting lucky to Pearl Jam and Green Day, and I’m still here, almost sixty. I’ve got this Pandora thing on my desktop and all your songs are playing randomly and guess what…they’re fabulous. They’re melodic, I know them all thanks to you and your friends running around this place a decade ago, and they’re….absolutely, positively….classic! Each and every one of them. Drive by Incubus, Machinehead by Bush, Rooster by Alice in Chains, Lightning Crashes by Live, Shine by Collective Soul. These are all great, and helping me get through the day.
My sincere, heartfelt classic apologies! I wish you were here, and it was fifteen years ago. I miss you and I am proud of the young man you are—sensitive, intelligent, not foolish, and with an absolutely great taste in great music. Thanks for leaving me this music and these new memories, thoughts about you and all the joy you and your sister have brought me.
Sure beats all those lonely nights in my twenties, driving home frustrated and alone to Earth, Wind & Fire’s Reasons.
You see, that’s the other thing about aging. The memories do fade a bit but they somehow manage to be so much more honest.