She’s with the band

~~ Originally printed in Carrboro (NC) Free Press, April 2009 ~~

Sometimes I feel like I am surely the only person in Carrboro without any musical aspirations. I’m not in a band. I’ve never been in a band. I’ve never even been “with” the band. I did have a crush on one of the guys in the Monday Mood back in the day at Chapel Hill High, if that counts for anything.

I don’t write songs. I can’t even begin to read music. I think the last time I played an instrument was when Ms. Cantrell taught us to play Greensleeves on the recorder at Seawell Elementary School, circa 1979. Ms. Cantrell is now teaching music to my two youngest children. At Carrboro Elementary. But I digress.

I can’t sing. No, really. I’m not one of those people who says, “I can’t sing,” and what I really mean is, “I can’t sing as well as Rihanna.” I mean I can’t sing. Children cry at my lullabies. Drunks are aghast at my karaoke performances. I didn’t even get invited to join the church choir, and everyone gets invited to join the church choir.

But I love music. I got an iPod Mini in 2004, as soon as it was introduced. I quickly filled it up with the soundtrack of my life to date: Rod Stewart, Helen Reddy, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, Queen, Dwight Yoakam, Little Feat, Digital Underground, James Taylor, Dixie Chicks, Ryan Adams, 50 Cent, Fergie… It’s quite the compilation, and a rather interesting documentary. I still have it, which I suppose makes me sort of a loser. At least in my kids’ eyes. They have sleek, shiny new iPods.

Somehow my children turned out musical. There’s Bailey, who’s 14. This is her fourth year in Chorus at school. Bailey attended the UNC High School Music Camp last summer and loved it. She was also a performer in the all-city high school choral concert, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, at Memorial Auditorium a couple of weeks ago. She likes to be a part of something grand and beautiful.

Blake is 11. She has always responded to music. We attended a wedding when she was a year and a half old. Every time there was a pause in the prelude music, Blake would cry out, “Uh oh!” She has a big voice. It filled the whole church. People started to giggle. We had to take her out before the ceremony began. Blake sings, and she writes music and lyrics. She went to the NC Girls Rock camp last year. She wants to be a star.

Caleb is 9. He’s into Guitar Hero. He’d like to learn to play the drums or guitar. He seems to favor classic rock. When he was younger, his favorite song was Bohemian Rhapsody. Now it may be Smoke on the Water.

They don’t get their musical ability from me. But I will take credit for exposing them to music of all sorts. They can sing along with Kool and the Gang and Kate Bush, Stevie Wonder and Sting, Van Halen and Vanilla Ice, Annie Lennox and Lyle Lovett, Eartha Kitt and Eminem—and not because they heard them on G105. It’s a two-way street, though. I can discuss the finer points of Hilary versus Miley. I can’t keep the Jonas Brothers straight, but I do actually know who Lady Gaga is.

And now we have Pandora. So today, instead of someone surreptitiously loading my iPod with the Cheetah Girls, my stations have been tampered with. Suppose I’m in the mood to hear some Johannes Brahms Radio—there’s a very real risk I might accidentally click on Jordin Sparks or Jo Jo Radio instead.

It’s all good. As long as we have music—and we always have music. It might be the Beach Boys, and it might be the Beastie Boys. Or Boyz II Men. Regardless, I’m happy to sit back and let it play.

I still think it’s strange that I’ve never tried to be a part of the music scene, though. It’s just so Carrboro. But that’s OK. I’m writing a novel. So there.

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