Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"It's Still Rock and Roll to Me"*

My mom is the oldest of five siblings, the youngest of them being 10, 11 and 12.5 years younger than her, respectively. So when my mom had me at the ripe old age of 27, she didn't have to find a high school student to babysit me; she left me with my aunts, collectively known as "The Aunties". (That is "aunt", not "ant"; I am from Connecticut after all.)

I spent a lot of time at my granddad's house with my mom's two youngest sisters, Aunts E & T, who were in high school and were totally into movies and music. That DEFINITELY rubbed off on me. And in case you readers out there think that a two year old isn't really paying attention to pop culture, I offer you this amusing anecdote. On one memorable occasion when my parents brought me to church with them, during a reading of a letter from Peter, I YELLED out enthusiastically, "PETER FRAMPTON!!?!!" (It was the 70s; I have since seen the error of my ways, both with regards to behavior in church and Peter Frampton.) Needless to say, not only I got in trouble that day, but so did the Aunties. But that didn't stop them from making me their little rock and roll protégé.

Growing up in the late 1970s & 80s, on Saturday nights, we got to watch "The Muppet Show", and then we went to bed. (That was the theory at least. I distinctly recall watching episodes of "The Love Boat".) One of the coolest episodes of "The Muppet Show" was when Debbie Harry guest starred and sang not only "The Rainbow Connection", but Blondie's hit, "One Way or Another", which I totally LOVED and subsequently made the Aunties play for me on the record player at Granddad's house. (The other awesome musical guest was Elton John, who sang "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart" with Miss Piggy. Fortunately, my parents had his albums at our house. Parents, when your six year old can work the fancy stereo in the living room without adult help, you might want to start preparing for an adolescence with a lot of loud music.)

The marvelous Auntie E later made my brother and me a cassette tape ("Baby's First Mix Tape") with all the songs that she had turned us on to: Blondie's "One Way or Another" and "Call Me"; Pat Benetar's "Hit Me with Your Best Shot"; Billy Joel's "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll to Me", Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and a few other tracks. We wore that tape out in our little Fisher Price tape recorder as we rocked out in the living room of my parent's old house. (It is a good thing that we didn't really understand the lyrics too well.) I distinctly recall that Sister K was a big Pat Benetar fan; she was three.

The other night, I was driving home from a work event, and Blondie's "The Tide is High" came on the radio. I cranked up the volume as I sang along with the song and thought back to some great times, listening to music with the Aunties, being a little kid, and loving the Muppets. I learned a lot about contemporary music as a kid, not just from the Aunties, but from the Muppets. (I really don't think that you can downplay the impact that the Muppets had on Gen X, but that is a blog entry for another time.) That has made a huge impact on the person I am today, and I am extremely grateful for that.

Image from Muppet Wiki. Did you know there was a Muppet Wiki? Well, now you do!

*Billy Joel

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