Tuesday, October 16, 2007

or altogether just taken apart

My godchild, on another continent, really spurred this week's song inadvertently. I do not have much to offer a child of one. She's too far away for me to bake her anything, and besides which, her parents would not approve of a cupcake or cookies, unless it was made of such things as honey and spelt and wheatgrass. Okay, I don't know what spelt is. I only have a vague notion of what wheatgrass is, for that matter. Sufficed to say, I'm still unclear as to how I got the godmother-title, given that I am writing this while eating a Cadbury bar that I purchased simply because I'd never heard of the flavor "soft toffee" before. In case any of you are wondering, as far as I can tell "soft toffee" is just a fancy way for the Brits to say caramel.

I feel odd buying clothes for babies. They could not care less what they are wearing. They grow out of things so fast that it seems completely illogical to outfit them in anything expensive. And honestly, my friends tend to have definite ideas as to what their children will and will not wear. And given my lack of fashion sense with adults, I know I have no business buying anything for a child.

Then we come down to toys, but people, I haven't been surrounded with babies for a while. I don't know what a 1-year old plays with. And most toys that babies actually enjoy are like a cross for their parents to bear, so annoying are the sounds that come out of the little gadgets.

This was all causing me quite a bit of paralysis, and then I took a breath. These fools wanted me to be a godmother. The only thing I could give this kid was so obvious, I almost laughed when I realized what it had to be. Music. I don't care what you say. It's never too early for a mixtape.

I had this whole brilliant notion of how, every year, I'd mail the kid a mixtape. Eventually, it could become a mixtape of hey, these songs are cool. But the first one had to be something that summed up the idea, I thought. The list-making started and my explanations to the kid were all planned out as follows:

  • We're from Barcelona- because, when you're young, you like clapping your hands, and when you're old, you like acting as though you're young.

  • Grace Kelly by Mika- because you must remember to be yourself, even though someday someone will come along who will tempt you to forget that.

  • Love and Longing by Stellastarr*- because, well, mostly because of the band name (this has to do with the kid's name).

  • Me & Julio by Simon & Garfunkel- because sometimes songs don't have to make sense to be great. Life can be like that too.

  • Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela- because it is my great, fond wish that one day you will rock the guitar like Gabriela (or Rodrigo, for that matter).

  • Jackie Wilson Said by Van Morrison- because your parents undoubtedly think 'and when you walk across the room, makes my heart go boom, boom, boom!' And because the whole world must think, when they see you, 'I'm in heaven when you smile.'

  • What Light by Wilco- because with light comes great responsibility to be true.

  • Smile by Pearl Jam- because 'I miss you already, I miss you always.'

Here's the thing though. When I made the list, I really wanted to include this week's song, No one's gonna love you. Because I believe that, about your parents. If your parents are saying it, they're probably stating a fact when they inform you that 'no one's gonna love you more than I do.'

The problem is that's not what the song is all about, really, at least I don't think. Figuring out songs like this is difficult. I never know whether to think of this idea as romantic or not- no one is ever gonna love you more than I do. Is it a threat? Is it a putdown? Aren't you really saying that a person should consider themselves lucky to have you when you say something like that? On the other hand, maybe it's really true. And maybe some people would find it flattering? I don't know.

In the end, the song created an impasse and stalled me out such that I never finished the CD. After getting stuck on that song, all the songs on the list started to cause me great doubt. Maybe it would come across as ridiculous (which it is). And do you know how hard it is to find a CD's worth of songs that are actually appropriate to send to a child? Maybe it's just my iTunes playlist, but every song I like tends to be about dysfunctional relationships, heartbreak, drugs, or, okay, being a playa (don't hate!). Maybe that says more about me than it does about music. But really, I spent some time thinking about it, and it's not all that easy to come up with really good music with lyrics worth inflicting on a tiny child. If she were 15 and filled with angst, oh, then I'd know exactly what to send her. Her father claims it's those teenage years he had in mind when he singled me out as godmother-- probably because I never really outgrew my adolescence.

It sounds like I'm disparaging Band of Horses, but I am not. I really like this song. It's old school, even though it's from their new album. When I think old school, I think of early 90s music that had those large sounds, the big choruses and the rousing opening riffs. Kind of what Coldplay tried to keep up afterwards. Band of Horses do it better, and with more interesting lyrics. It just wasn't right for a 1-year old.

So, if anyone's still tuning in, leave me some suggestions about what I could include on a CD for a 1-year old child. No Sesame Street or Spongebob sh*t either, okay? We're talking real music, adult music, that you wouldn't mind a child hearing as well. I guess I find this really important because I can't remember a time when I didn't know what music was. And that's the only thing from my childhood that I would really want to pass on to a godchild.

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