Music As Explanation And Discussion

So we’ve been listening to Neil Young in the car lately, as one does. The kids seem OK with it, they like the big rock songs and his guitar skronk freakouts. They thought it was a girl singing in After The Goldrush. Anyway.

Southern Man comes on, and from the backseat my son says “Dad, what’s this song about?” Well. Trying to tread my way through it, I carefully explainedhow it is anti-racism and anti-violence and calls for slavery reparations so that two kids (11 and 8) could understand the song a bit. I also briefly explained Lynyrd Skynyrd’s response in Sweet Home Alabama… I patted myself on the back for navigating that one to their satisfaction (and mine) but man, it was quick thinking on my feet.

Then Ohio came up next. My son asks the same question. So. I carefully try to explain about the Kent State protests and what happened. As a result, both kids requested I skip the rest of that track, and I was OK with that. So we skip ahead and the next track is…

The Needle And The Damage Done. Hooboy. So of course they asked, and I explained this one, which went better because they’ve had anti-drug stuff at school already. However, no amount of explaining the song as a cautionary tale about how Young lost people close to him because of drugs helped because, at this point, Neil was a bit too heavy for them.

I get it. I do. They’re kids. Those are hefty songs, both musically and when you pay attention to the lyrics and messages. It’s a win, I think, to know that they are reminded that there’s a big world out there, and people can use music to actually say things, not just “baby baby” love songs or “let’s party” rock songs. We’ll get there, Neil, we’ll get there.

25 thoughts on “Music As Explanation And Discussion

    1. keepsmealive says:

      It’s a tricky thing, I mean, if I start skipping songs because of what they’re about, I’d have to skip half of western music. I was totally willing to play these Neil songs for them, but they asked what they were about, and then…

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  1. 1537 says:

    My parents used to play ‘Our House’ by CSNY to stop me crying if I was ever upset as a very little kid. It’s a cosy picture.

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  2. 80smetalman says:

    Makes me kind of glad I never played any Neil Young when my kids were in the car. My two boys might have asked the same questions at that age and I might have been more direct in my responses. You did a great tightrope walk.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      Well thanks, I hope I did OK! I’m just always cautious because I still have to tuck them in and convince them to sleep tonight! Our kids are very big thinkers, and they’re sensitive souls, and they’re not afraid to ask questions. Sounds like your boys are the same. And I imagine you do as we do, in that we’re always honest with them, and there are no dumb questions in our house, but we will still try to respect their age a bit and not tell it quite like we would explain it to an adult. To be honest, I wasn’t even thinking this could happen when I threw that disc on, I was just thinking ‘hey I haven’t played Neil in a minute, time to rock out to this Hits set and get my Neil on…’

      Liked by 1 person

            1. keepsmealive says:

              Hey man, I will always salute the good parents, and hope (day by day) to be one myself! Goodness knows there are more than enough shite parents in this world so we gotta try to balance ’em out.

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    1. keepsmealive says:

      I will when we get there, though it may be a while before they wanna tackle more of his stuff.

      I had a look, and since this is the Greatest Hits single disc we’ve been playing, we must also hear Old Man, Heart Of Gold, Like A Hurricane, Comes A Time, and Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) before we get to RITFW. And Harvest Moon follows it up.

      For the record, I also skipped the first track of the set, Down By The River, much like I try not to play Hey Joe around the kids. No need for them to hear about somebody shooting a lady.

      Liked by 1 person

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