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Song sung true

Every time I would ask my son what song he was listening to, pat would come the answer, “Oh, you wouldn’t know, it’s not your type,” writes Lalita Panicker.
None | By Lalita Panicker
UPDATED ON JUL 09, 2007 12:14 AM IST

It was happening just too often. Every time I would ask my son what song he was listening to, pat would come the answer, “Oh, you wouldn’t know, it’s not your type”. For hours on end, he would be downloading groups and songs I had never heard of and which frankly sounded like people in immense pain. Yes, I had been shut out of one part of my son’s life. I could not give up tamely. Finally, I resolved that I would have to feign knowledge of whatever it is that the young and restless listen to, even if it kills me.

So I sought the advice of my colleague, rock and all other music aficionado extraordinaire. “You must go about this in a casual manner as though this is all par for the course for you.” He advised me to just drop the name of The White Stripes (photo) whose lead singer was Jack White whose latest album had the amazing title ‘Icky Thump’. It would knock the socks off my son, he assured me. So a day later, I approached the progeny.

“I quite like White Jack of the, er Stripes,” I said, getting the whole thing all wrong. Seeing my son’s look of pity, I beat a hasty retreat. My colleague was less than pleased at this performance. “Ask him about the album ‘Icky Thump’,” he said exasperated, “not all that difficult to remember.” I made the second approach. “Perchance you have heard Icky Thump, son,” I said jubilant at the fact that I got the name right. “No one who’s heard Icky Thump would use the word perchance anyway. Which other songs did you have in mind?” My attempts to be cool ended then and there. I confessed that I had tried to impress with borrowed knowledge and could not tell The White Stripes from a zebra. Anyway, I felt that now, humiliated, I must make a stand. “Actually, I quite love Led Zeppelin, the Stones, Doors, Beatles, Queen and Bee Gees. There I’ve said it, now you may sneer all you like.”

Oh, and for good measure, I added, there was a time when I liked Michael Jackson. “I have no head for techno, trance, rave, rant whatever it is that you like. So there it is.” For some reason, the response of pity, disgust, ‘must get mum into old age home as soon as possible’ did not come. “Why didn’t you say so before instead of trying to be cool. Retro music is so in, so you’re right on top of it,” said the son. Here, I was back on firm ground. I rattled off half a dozen of the my favourite songs from, of course, the ageless Stairway to Heaven to Bohemian Rhapsody. Now I had the boy’s attention.

For some reason by just acting my age, dating myself in the process, I had redeemed myself. Just when I was really getting into the groove in order to impress further, he lost interest and went back to the extraordinary caterwauling that passes off for music for his generation. As for me, I’m never going to stray from the tried and tested again. In fact, I’ll probably go back to Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

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