23 November 2011


So we're driving around in the car one day, singing along to Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions - which, incidentally, is an all around great record, particularly well suited to singing along with while driving around in the car. Oh, and don't just download it; get the CD - it comes with a fabulous 40 minute documentary about them making the record in Bruce's house, with the horn section stuck three rooms away and everyone drinking rather a lot of whiskey. That you should probably watch at home, not while driving around in the car, because you're going to want some whiskey with the DVD.

I digress.

We were listening to Jesse James, when all of a sudden, the girl pipes up from the back seat: Mama, this is inappropriate.

I am one of those people who never listens to the lyrics. Actually, I don't really hear them, and I can't remember them; the words just don't stick with me. Hell, I can barely sing along to the national anthem - I know the tune, I know where the fermatas and the high notes are, I just don't know the words.

But Jesse James? Inappropriate? I started listening along.

It turns out that her objection wasn't that Jesse killed people and robbed the Glendale train. That was okay, because Jesse's a Robin Hood-like folk hero, stealing from the rich.

Jesse James was a lad that killed many a man,
He robbed the Glendale train,
He stole from the rich and he gave to the poor,
He'd a hand and a heart and a brain.

Nope, inappropriate was the fact that Jesse got shot in the back, in cold blood.

Now the people held their breath when they heard of Jesse's death,
They wondered how he ever came to fall
Robert Ford, it was a fact, he shot Jesse in the back
While Jesse hung a picture on the wall

It's moments like that, when my kid puts a whole new spin on things, that really take my breath away. I love that she can teach me to listen.


Harriet said...

Love that CD, and I've been a longtime Springsteen loather. His band is amazing and the arrangements are incredible. I'm not one who pays much attention to lyrics either. When I suddenly notice inappropriate lyrics at our house, I look at AJ and he says, "I know. Don't play this song for my friends."

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

I love Springsteen and many other singer/songwriters. I hang on the lyrics--the story, the imagery, the cadence. Love, love, love it.

My teenage son listens to lots of "inappropriate" music. He's 16--it's his job. ha ha ha. I do like some rap--once again, some of it includes great storytelling (J.Cole's song, "Lost Ones" comes to mind) and I like the beat. But yeah, the language gets to me. As long as he doesn't speak like that, I don't mind him listening to it. He's old enough now to find his own voices in the arts.

snozma said...

Yes, I love that so much. That is a wonderful thing for her to say.

They teach you to listen and see.

painted maypole said...

That's great.

i have that same thing with songs, where I often have no idea what the song says. A few weeks ago I was looking up the lyrics to The Rolling Stone's Brown Sugar to quote the chorus, which I CAN sing, and was surprised at the verses. Oddly enough, they talked about that very song and how people don't know the verses on NPR's Sound Check just this wekk.