Thursday, May 23, 2013

Give Us a Chance. We're Just Like You.

We've got a high school senior in our midst, and lately, she's been dishing up dollops of household angst. 

She's been getting all deep on us, harshing our mellows with her sentimentality and nostalgic yearning. 

All this, and her mom and I just want to party.

It's a time most of us remember vividly—that last chapter of traditional schooling when all that's left is a million flicks of the wrist launching a million mortarboards and nearly gauging out the cataract-clouded eyes of a million Great Aunt Carolines.

Yeah, our kid has really been reflecting recently, feeling little daggers of regret for not having soaked it all in just a bit more, that growing realization that things will never be the same. 

It's so tempting to extract the "when I was a boy" arrow from my quiver, but any anecdotal wisdom would surely careen off her still-teenage deflector shields. Plus, I can't really reach my quiver anymore, so I'm thinking it may finally be time to sign up for Pilates.

So, rather than inserting my gin-blossomed face into her grill and delivering a forceful lecture on my ability to relate to her senior sorrow, I'm going to jot it down in passive, twelve-point Arial. 

What better way to explain the mindset of youth than through popular music? Throughout the past sixty years, the pop charts have chronicled the pulse of our youth, and I'd like to demonstrate how things haven't really changed much. I've decided to sample the tops song names from my dad's graduation year (1951), mine (1981) and my daughter's (2013). You decide.

All included songs about hands:

In 1951, Nelson Eddy and Jo Stafford hit number 22, singing "With These Hands," 1981's number 19 tune was "Slow Hand" by the Pointer Sisters. And 2013 featured Akon at number 30 with "Hold My Hand."

Apparently, kids have always appreciated hands. I know I did, especially during that long, boring summer of 1978.

Commentaries on societal taboo and scandal :

In 1951, Vaughn Monroe reached number 76 with "On Top of Old Smokey," a song of forbidden love at remote Michigan logging camp. 1981's "Whip It," as performed by Devo, climbed to number 98, and in 2013, one man's sociopathic manipulation of his Irish Wolfhound is revealed in David Guetta's "Sexy Bitch," at number 31.

Crying songs:

Johnnie Ray hit the stratosphere with 1951's number 3 song, "Cry." In 1981, Don McLean reached number 40, with "Crying," and Flo Rida hit number 93 in 2013 with "I Cry." 

Wow, what a bunch of babies. Sorry, I should keep it positive.

Tunes promoting safe sex:

In 1951, Del Wood became one of the first artists to provide us with a road map of proper condom placement, singing the year's number 60 song, "Down Yonder," 1981's number 34 title, "Living Inside Myself" by Gino Vanelli,  points out the simplest way to avoid STDs and unwanted pregnancies. And BoB featuring Bruno Mars, currently at number 28, extols the virtues of condom use, with "Nothing On You." 

After reviewing these themes, I've got to tell you, I'm pretty impressed with the voices of America's youth over the past sixty years. I'd expected to find a predominance of gratuitous sexual themes, but I'm pleasantly surprised at the consistency of socially conscious subject matter. Hopefully, this exercise will help prove to our kids that we really do know what they're going through since we were there once ourselves.

Now, if Taylor Swift would just go away for a while.

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