At 5’ 9” his arm fell easily around my neck as the chords of “Only the Good Die Young” started. I was in awe, first by his physical touch, then, at the realization that my teenage son and I were standing at the top of Target Field, on a beautiful night, in a crowd of thousands, singing at the top of our lungs, “…you Catholic girls start way too late!”
Oblivious to others, I was enjoying one of my life’s most wonderful nights.
I have always wanted to see Billy Joel live but, agitated by the nosebleed seat price, I put off the purchase – until I thought of my son. By clicking “buy now” I would give him his first outdoor concert experience and we’d be able to see a guy we’ve jammed to since before his cell phone became smart. So, the choice was easy and Ticketmaster got its price.
During long commutes for various appointments, some emotionally draining, we’d return to the car and recover to Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits album. I always hoped it would be Jackson Browne, but I think Billy was a little less intense, he did cut a few songs just for the sake of entertainment.
Without knowing it, Billy offered great positive parenting opportunities and established music as a connection with my son. Nowadays, my son will offer me an earbud to listen to a portion of his favorite song. He doesn’t say much, just calls me over, offers an earbud and I know what to do. Listen, jam, and appreciate the connection.
By the way, nothing has changed in music since rock and roll brought forth forbidden topics such as sex, drugs and being rebellious. Thankfully.
I have faith that my kid will make the right decisions in life no matter what music he listens to. And being able to listen to his choice is the first way to reinforce my confidence in his growing independence.
We’ve had the whole “drug talk” already. He actually initiated it. During Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack”, he asked, “Who is Captain Jack and why is he going to make you fly?” in response to the song lyric, “Captain Jack will make you high tonight.” And for those of you who know the song by heart, the answer is “no,” at ten years-old did we not tackle the masturbation topic, but I wish I would have.
Oh, and he really gets a kick out of singing “Only the Good Die Young” – he does, after all, go to a Catholic school.
Pulling from the 80s, Billy Joel did not disappoint. I had no idea my kid knew the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and was willing to shout the lyrics along with the rest of my generation. I felt amazed and almost serene at the connection created at that moment. There we were, together, dancing to songs I used to play while using flammable amounts of hairspray and driving girlfriends around in my Chevy Vega – at nearly the age he is today.
I am thankful for music. But I am most thankful for the connection it creates with my fun and amazing son.