My mother and I have dramatically different music tastes. When I was a young girl, I’d listen to her record collection from the 60s and 70s while she bought the latest Top 40 CDs. As she bounced around the house singing songs from Will Smith's "Gettin' Jiggy With It" or Right Said Fred's "I Have No Idea What the Album is Called Nor Do I Care—two albums she still proudly listens to—I was mimicking David Byrne's dance moves in front of the TV while watching the newly discovered 15th anniversary release of Talking Heads' "Stop Making Sense."
In high school, I would play my Mom's Frank Zappa records while I laid on the basement floor, imagining her doing the same thing at my age in 1967. Right when I was at the point of having a completely fictional LSD trip, she would kill my buzz by shouting, "Ha! I can't believe I listened to that crap!"
I'd beg my mother to tell me stories of seeing Hendrix, The Doors and Led Zepplin live in concert, but she'd only do so in exchange for scoring her some John Mayer or Jason Mraz tickets. Our difference in musical taste have led to years of heated arguments over who has control of the car stereo and holiday playlists.
I'm going to ACL this year, and I was curious to see what my mother's stance was on the headliners. Do we still differ in tastes? Has she meandered over into the indie realm yet or is she still stuck in 1995?
I played my mother excerpts from this year's headliners' most famous songs. Our conversation went as follows:
Me: What are you laughing at?
Mom: I like the guitar, but it sounds like he needs to clear his throat.
Me: You don't like?
Mom: No. When he started singing, I was like "Whoa!" I turned down the volume to see if it would sound better. It didn't.
Me: What rating do you give him?
Mom: I'd give him a four out of ten and a cough drop.
Mom: Oh! I love this song! (singing along)
Me: Keep listening...
Mom: (Kanye starts rapping) Oh wait, what is that? Oh no no. Otis come back!
Me: Do you know who that is rapping?
Mom: Is it Kan-jay or Jay-Z? Isn't Jay-Z married to Beyonce? She's so pretty.
Me: It's Kanye.
Mom: Well, I don't appreciate this Kanye bursting into the song and ruining it!
Me: What rating would you give it?
Mom: I'm torn because I really like the original. I give it an #8 for the original song.
Me: But this isn't the original song. It's a rap song sampling an Otis Redding song.
Mom: I'll just pretend I can't hear Kan-Jay or Jay-Z.
Cee-Lo: "F*ck You!"
Mom: I know this song! It's on the radio. It's that "Forget You" song! I like it!
Me: It's a catchy song, isn't it?
Mom: Wait a second! Did he just say the f word?
Mom: I like this song, but I don't appreciate the fact that he says the word "f*ck". I find it offensive. Could you image me saying that around a little kid?
Me: No, I can't imagine that at all.
Mom: I like the radio version better. Why do people get so carried away with the f-word these days? Can't they use better words to describe intimate behavior?
Me: What rating do you give it?
Mom: A 6 out of ten.
Me: And if it didn't have the f word in it?
Mom: A ten!
Iron & Wine: "Flightless Bird"
Mom: Do I have to listen to this song any longer?
Mom: It's boring (chrous kicks in) Oooh...wait a minute! This is really getting good!
Me: You like it?
Mom: Sssh...let me listen (silence)
Mom: Sssh! I'm listening!
Me: Did you take your ADD meds today?
Mom: Gosh, this is really good.
Me: What rating do you give it.
Mom: An eight!
Arcade Fire: "Rebellion (Lies)"
Mom: Hey! This is that funeral music you used to listen to when you'd come home for the holidays!
Me: Arcade Fire isn't funeral music!
Mom: Yes, it sounds like a funeral march. I used to make you turn it off.
Me: I know! And then you would put on Jason Mraz really loudly and there would be an Arcade Fire/Jason Mraz sound-off in the house.
Mom: Well, Jason Mraz is way better than Arcade Fire.
Me: Excuse Me?
Mom: You heard me!
Me: Them there are fighting words, Mom.
Mom: Bring it.
Me: So what rating do you give Arcade Fire?
Mom: I'm not rating it!
Mom: Because it's not music. It's depressing!
Stevie Wonder: "As"
Mom: OH MY GOD! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You know I love Stevie!
Me: I do know that.
Mom: THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG EVER!
Me: I know, Momma. You don't have to yell.
Mom: THIS SONG GIVES ME GOOSEBUMPS!
Me: I know. It's such a pretty song.
Mom: IT MAKES ME CRY!
Me: I know.
(slight weeping into the phone)
Me: Are you ok?
Mom: This song is so beautiful.
Me: What grade do you give it?
Mom: Four billion out of ten.