I can’t imagine any other family tradition being as rewarding as my family’s musical dialogue. I hate texting, for the most part. However, when I receive a song lyric I must complete from Mom mid-day, it always guarantees a smile. Many of our in-person communication is much like that. Though my brother and I don’t commune nearly as often as we should, when the conversation involves music we can jabber for hours. Take this morning for instance. I called Mom’s cell but my brother picked up: “Are you insane?! It’s 8:30.” (insert small adult chuckle here.)
Me: “Insane in the membrane…”
Jeremy: “Insane in the motherf&*$ing brain!”
Me: “Wasn’t it just ‘insane in the brain’?”
Jeremy: “No, dude, in the middle part he goes ‘INSANE IN THE MOTHERF*&KIN’ BRAIN!’ Cypress Hill. (sings a verse.) See? You ask me if I know that song? Shit, I remember the whole thing.”
Me: “What year?”
Jeremy: “1996.” I wasn’t sure if it was 94 or 96, but I thought he was right, so I agreed. (It was actually 1993, Black Sunday.)
From there, we continued mini-series conversation we’d been having this week about Alice in Chains.
Me: “Dirt is such a brilliant album, y’know? And I can’t figure out why I like it so much. I was driving down the road the other day listening to that beautiful, lilting instrumental on Jar of Flies “Whale and Wasp” and I wondered, ‘Is this what heroin sounds like?’ I’ll never know and I don’t want to, but even so. I know a lot of his music was about the pain of addiction. Why do I like it so much?”
Jeremy: “Because it’s about strife and strife is universal.”
Me: “That’s it! Yes.”
Jeremy: “Dirt was solely about heroin […] Dude, what the hell was Facelift? Man, I need that album again.”
Me: “Sea of Sorrow is on that. Wicked bass line.”
And so on. It’s hard to convey the excitement that happens, but it always does. My brother has this Tool dance, too, that I wish you could see. It has the rhythm of a skilled drummer but the recklessness of a fan. In short, it’s endearing and hilarious.
I don’t know what made the joy of music my family’s backbone and it doesn’t really matter. It could have been The Supremes’ Baby Love on 45 that Mom bought with her paper route money. For Jeremy and me, it was most certainly the SUB*POP scene, before we even worried about acne and dating.
So I ask of you: what is a musical family tradition your family participates in?
Be well and cherish music together,