Friday, January 10, 2014

Lyrics, Only Teenage Lyrics

Several times a week, I drive my teenage daughter to and from the stable where we board her horse. At this point, with the permission (and permit) of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, plus several hours of professional instruction under her skinny little belt, she could actually do the driving. 

Except she can't. Because I'll have a heart attack. And then where would we be?

I could write an entire post — multiple posts, really — about the sheer and almost illogical terror I'm experiencing when the fruit of my womb is behind the wheel of my car. And, I'm sure I will. 

But, not now.

Right now, I want to talk about another rite of teenage passage. Song lyrics, those anthems of angst that define today's adolescents just as they did when you and I were sixteen.

You see, on one of our recent car trips, the oldies station (yes, I'm an oldie, I admit it) was playing The Who. I was singing along without much thought, when I realized how silly I (not to mention Roger Daltrey) sounded:

Don't cry
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland

I'm nearly 52. (Holy crap.) Daltrey is nearly 70. (HOLY CRAP.) Meanwhile, the only teenager in the picture was quietly texting in her seat, ignoring  her mother, ignoring the ancient rockstar, ignoring all that teen trauma from long, long ago.

I wasn't a huge Who fan (although I did see the Tommy movie a couple, well several, okay about a hundred times). My teen years were all about Elton John:

I'll be a teenage idol, just give me a break
I'm gonna be a teenage  idol, no matter how long it takes
You can't imagine what it means to me
I'm gonna grab myself a place in history
A teenage idol, that's what I'm gonna be

And Meatloaf:

Ain't no doubt about it
Baby got to go out and shout it
Ain't no doubt about it
We were doubly blessed
'Cause we were barely seventeen
And we were barely dressed

Of course, my daughter and her friends have their own musician gods and their own anthems of angst. Today's pop music includes countless songs about the trials and tribulations (and torture) of being a teen, about first love, about partying. For example, "Up All Night" by One Direction, "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry, "We Are Young," by Fun.

Or anything at all by Taylor Swift.

My daughter's musical tastes run more toward small, indie groups. She and her BFFs go to a concert every month or so (long nights of fun for them; long nights, period, for the parents). "Their" bands often open for better known acts. On more than one occasion, they've gotten to meet them, take selfies, snag a broken, autographed drumstick. 

Good times.

Every generation has its own soundtrack. And, every decade produces an extensive catalog of teen music. Years from now (years and years and years from now), my daughter will probably find herself driving her own teenager somewhere. A song will come on and — miraculously, musically — the years will peel away. She'll feel sixteen again, like I did a couple of days ago.

And the generation gap will never feel wider.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at 

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