Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Music Men

Miguel and I shared an Abbott and Costello moment last night while driving to Oakland to see the Red Sox play the A’s.

“Who wrote the original American Woman?” asked Miguel, who has the cover version by Lenny Kravitz on his iPod.

“Guess Who,” I said.

“Is it someone I already know?” he asked.

“No, it is the Guess Who,” I said. “That’s the name of the group.”

“Oh,” he laughed. “Wouldn’t that be funny if we kept going back and forth, I’d ask the name of the group and you’d keep saying, ‘Guess Who?’”

As in, so what’s the name of the group?

Guess Who.

How can I? What’s their name?

Guess Who.

And on and on and on…

The ‘guess who’ episode reminded me of two others that are similar in a funny-things-that-kids-say kind of way. Back in late 2003, it appeared that the Yankees were going to foil the Red Sox yet again and possibly sign both Alex Rodriguez and Curt Schilling.

“Great, just great,” I screamed at the TV after watching the sports report. “The Yankees are probably going to wind up with two great players and the Red Sox get bupkes (the Yiddish word for nothing, nada, zilch, zero).

“Is he any good?” Miguel promptly asked.

The other one happened when Miguel was about five or six. He and I were playing a word game with our neighbor Jodi. We were trying to get Miguel to say the word bat, so my clue was, “Something Barry Bonds uses to hit the ball.”

Miguel paused and then said, “Steroids.”

I am glad I am committing these vignettes to the almost permanence of my blog, because there are countless others lost and forgotten. When I was a teacher, the secretary, Kay Johnson, had a notebook in which she wrote down all the funny and poignant things kids said during the school year.

I wonder where that magical book is now?

Each of the aforementioned stories also involves how popular culture permeates and influences our lives no matter how hard we try to distance ourselves, at times, from technology and the media.

Take the iPod, for example. Miguel has about 160 songs on his, and Verna or I have approved each of them. No songs with explicit or degrading lyrics are allowed. If it’s a questionable artist, Kanye West just to name one controversial musician, then one of us has to either listen to the song first or read the lyrics.

And we’ve been pretty flexible about his tastes, which run the gamut from the Beatles and the Dropkick Murphy’s to Alvin and the Chipmunks and Kate Perry.

But speaking of Kanye West, one of the bad boys of hip-hop and rap, Miguel asked the other night if I could download one of his songs.

“Which one?” I asked

“I don’t know. Let’s listen to a few, then I’ll decide.”

So we ended up sampling Heartless, which iTunes ranked as West’s most popular. The lyrics are pretty innocuous; it’s about West being so upset over being treated so poorly, in his mind, by a woman who dumped him that he labeled her heartless.

I now know the song is the second single off West’s 4th album (CD) and it was first performed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Who wrote it?

Guess who?

Kanye West, lyrics and music.

No comments:

Post a Comment