Stop Making It Make Sense

10 Feb

For years I have been schooling up my older girl in the finer points of rock-and-roll. I’ve done my job so well, she took great pains to learn how to pronounce the word “pedagogy.” (In case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “pet-uh-GO-gee” … and the fact that I am sharing that information here proves her point, I suppose.)

Since I’ve made so much progress on that front, I have decided to expand my efforts to include a new pupil: my nine-year old. It may be long while before I’ll take her to a concert, so I’m introducing her to the magic of live performance via great rock documentaries. We began with, what else? Woodstock.

My first viewing of the classic was a midnight showing in Richmond when I was in high school. My suburban mind was successfully blown about 2:00 a.m. when Joe Cocker came on and, due to the late hour as much as his volcanic performance, he and the falsetto-singing Grease Band became the most smoking hot bunch of longhairs ever.  My daughter had to settle for a small screen screening on our upstairs TV.

When the naked hippies went flitting by and she got age-appropriately grossed out, it occurred to me that parental guidance was going to really be needed if we watched any of the other interviews.  I skipped ahead to key performances, starting with Santana’s barn-burning “Soul Sacrifice”:

Given that most of the gossipy trivia I knew about Woodstock involved drugs, drugs and more drugs, I couldn’t say much about the performers (other than assure her that yes, the Grease Band singers were guys).

Of course, rock and roll movies aren’t all brown acid and Wavy Gravy. For our next Rock and Roll movie night, we watched Stop Making Sense.

Made sense at the time …

When I watched this in Cambridge when it came out in 1984, the Talking Heads and David Byrne’s shark-eyed stare were cool, no explanation necessary. Watching it nearly 30 years later with my youngest, though, I was barraged by questions:

“Why is he using a tape recorder?”

“Why is he jerking around?”

“Why is the stage all red?”

“Why are those words on the screens?”

(It was as if she had read the taglines for the marketing campaign.)

I tried to get her revved up by sharing tidbits about my favorite numbers. “Those back-up singers had to be in great shape,” I pointed out when “Life During Wartime” began. “They’ll be jogging through the entire song.”

“Spoiler alert,” my nine-year old muttered. I think I heard her eyes roll. Once again, I had to shut up. I had to allow her to absorb the musical experience on her own terms.

She fell asleep before David Byrne toddled in wearing the Big Suit. Clearly not her cup of chai tea, this movie. Oh well, at least she tried it once … like avocados.

Over time, we’ll find our musical groove – watching rockumentaries, sharing playlists, going to concerts. I’ll just have to get used to the fact that I won’t need to narrate the tour forever.

See you on the flip side …

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4 Responses to “Stop Making It Make Sense”

  1. Philip Sherman February 10, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Very nicely done. I’d forgotten all about Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Not to worry about your 9-year-old — she’ll come around.

  2. Pam Houghton February 13, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Nice. I think you are way hipper than me, though. I feel like my musical life is in my past. I don’t take the time to revisit it much. However, my husband is a huge Rolling Stones fan, still, and very much into RS collectibles – CDs, albums, memorabilia. Me, I guess I’m content with my iPod which I listen to only when I work out, and XM Radio when I drive.

    • lpon45 February 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

      Eh, everyone’s hip in their own way. And if I listened to less music I’d probably write more …

      • Pam Houghton February 14, 2012 at 9:34 am #

        Well…my time gets sucked by dumb TV…when I could be writing. Soooo….:)

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