A couple of weeks ago I told my son that I'd make him a mixed CD and I have been paralyzed with fear ever since.
This is a crucial juncture in his upbringing, when his soft and malleable musical mind can be put on the right course towards blistering, life affirming rock, but what music best charts that righteous course? The mind reels.
Right now he has a radio in his room, which he listens to, but it's tuned into the local Top 40 station. Technically it would be the Top 5 station as they don't play more than a handful of songs. He also has the soundtrack to High School Musical 3, a cd I find painful on a number of levels. He has never shown a real interest in music before, so I've approached his musical development lightly, but now that he's becoming more interested, my hand must be firm, my direction pointed. I can not falter, for his very musical soul depends on it.
Recently I changed how my music was arranged, separating my cd's into music that Linda and the kids would like, and everything else, so that Linda can just grab a disc at random and be safe in the knowledge that she's not about to drop The Marshall Mathers LP on an unsuspecting household. This has allowed for some musical variety to be brought into the household, but even with this, Matchbox 20 still gets plenty of playtime. For the record, I quite enjoy Matchbox 20, however they're not a band you want to build a musical foundation upon.
So where do I start? I don't want to overload the kid with multiple CD's. Better to start off slow and build an interest than bury him in an avalanche of music he can never dig out of. Do I stick to certain bands or stick to kinds of music? Marvelous 3 hasn't been around for over a decade but "Freak of the Week" is a masterful pop-rock song, and leads us to Butch Walker, who, along with making some of the best music out there today, is an absolute blast to see live, especially when he comes to Atlanta.
Surely Pearl Jam needs to be there, but which song? "Worldwide Suicide" encapsulates all of the band's raw power perfectly, but it's not exactly right, content wise, for a six year old. "Wish List" is a beautiful song, but it's not exactly typical for the band. I'm leaning towards, "Corduroy" as it is one of my favorite songs by them, and has one of my favorite lines: "everything has changed, absolutely nothing's changed". Then again, I like the line because it outlines a rather stark viewpoint of one's existence. Should I be saddling him with such negativity? One a PJ song is chosen, do we go with the studio version or a live version? If a live version, which one? Is it better to provide the studio version so that he can appreciate the song, and then hit him with live versions so that he can see how songs continue to grow once released, or give him both barrels of rock right up front?
Jimmy Eat World also needs to be there, but from where in the band's storied history? If you do earlier tracks, will he not appreciate the new stuff? If he hears new material, will he be turned off by the leaner, more raw earlier work?
And what of bands that have yet to prove their long term ability to produce, but still are putting out great music? "The '59 Sound" by Gaslight Anthem is an excellent song off of one of the best albums I've heard in some time, but will the band be there in the months ahead? In this case, is it better to highlight songs that are indicative of the types of music I like, even if the band may not stand the test of time?
You can see why I'm having difficulties here. Now I know that neither he nor I are going anywhere, but I can't help but feel that if I screw up this CD, he'll dismiss my tastes out of hand, and will be lost to me. With so much great music out there, it's important that I get this right. Music has been a part of my life for so long, that I want to make sure I make it a part of his life too. Besides, soon I'll need to start dragging him to concerts so that I'm not the creepy old dude rocking out all by his lonesome and I'd prefer to bring him to a show he'll actually enjoy.
Whatever I end up with, I'll post the final track list here so that you can see the full depths of my musical depravity. Until then, the catalog looms. Time to start climbing.