Old Dog, New Tricks

One of the things I love about my sons as adults is that they are now the teachers, and I truly enjoy learning from them. Currently my younger son is teaching me about alternative rock, and I’m loving it.

Context: I’m working on a new book with a working title of “Maisie’s List.” The protagonist is a widower with two children whose wife left him a list of handpicked people to date.  It seems to me that describing the music a character likes at different points in his life is one way to reveal his personality; e.g. I loved Bread in high school, so I was a sappy teenager.

Here’s the problem. When my character, Peter, was at the height of his musical obsession years (at 35 today, he would have been in college around 2000), my primary musical concentration was a combination of Disney tunes, Barney, and Sesame Street. My son, Brian, on the other hand, is not only in the midst of his prime music years, he is also very knowledgeable about this genre covering many years. Instead of Hercules and Mulan, he has introduced me to the White Stripes, Barenaked Ladies, Blink 182, and Third Eye Blind.

Surprisingly enough, many of their songs are songs that I recognize, but didn’t know the band. I knew Barenaked Ladies does the theme from Big Bang Theory, but I didn’t realize they sang “One Week.” Third Eye Blind does the song “Jumper,” the one about “I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend.” Blink 182 does “All the Small Things.”

Shall I go on? What about “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes? “Otherside” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers? “Even Flow” by Pearl Jam? I can say I was relieved to discover that Hootie and the Blowfish also falls into this group. Darius Rucker’s sexy voice absolutely “floats my boat.” Thank goodness I didn’t miss it all.

I want Peter to be a guy who went to concerts, jumped up and down, and banged his head when he was young and first with Maisie, but he has been hardened into maturity by responsibility. Her list of characters will help him discover that he can be that person and the reliable parent and provider.

In the meantime, I have found my writing soundtrack for this book. For Megan’s Christmas Knight, it was The Nutcracker and “Christmas Instrumentals for Relaxation.” For Soul Lost, it was a variety of classical music. Now it is alternative rock. It has completely changed the writing experience for me. Who knew?

P.S. As I’m sitting hear listening to the Alternative Rock Mix on YouTube I’ve heard three more artists that I didn’t know I loved: Natalie Imbruglia “Torn;” Vanessa Carlton “A Thousand Miles;” Sixpence None the Richer “Don’t Dream It’s Over”,”There She Goes” , and “Kiss Me.” Sixpence None the Richer? How did I miss that?

P.P.S. Who in the world is Tal Bachman and why does he look like a combination of Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen?

P.P.P.S. My son informed me–gently–that not all of these artists would be considered alternative. No surprise that I would be drawn to softer sounds (remember I liked Bread). They are considered rock, however, and they are appropriate to the time, so I’m good.

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