I was driving to work last Friday, listening to my Sirius radio. As you may or may not know, I have a long commute to work now (it's about 50 miles one way) and so I am extremely thankful for my satellite radio.
I usually listen to Howard Stern, but Fridays is is "Best of the Week" show, and of course, the rebroadcast of something I already heard during the week will most likely happen during my morning commute. And if it's not anything that I found particularly funny, I go find entertainment elsewhere.
As I've mentioned before in this blog, I sometimes listen to Sirius' station, OutQ, which is a station dedicated to the LGBT community. Most of the shows on the station are extremely entertaining to me. Their morning show is one of those that I enjoy frequently. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed, however, that the format of the morning show was different. It’s now called “The Morning Jolt” and the host is still the host (Larry Flick), and his sidekick is still there (Keith Price) -- but the bi-sexual woman was gone (Cynthia) and they were playing music between their morning banter, instead of just having a morning talk show.
I couldn't decide whether I loved this new format...because one one hand, there is the stereotype of how gays are on the forefront of all the new, fun, club music (which I am a fan of) but then on the other hand, I loved the talk format so much, I didn't want to listen to music. I wanted to hear what Larry, Keith and Cynthia were chatting about -- and where in the hell did Cynthia go anyway???
My opinion changed this past Friday, when Larry announced it was Old School Friday, then played "La Freak" by Chic. Holy shit! I haven't heard that song in a million years...or at least it felt like a million years. It reminded me of my childhood and where a lot of my love of music came from....
I was born in 1971. My parents met when I was 4 years old, and they got married when I was 8. I spent much of my childhood (the years up until I was 8) moving around, either living with my mom or my grandpa. It was never stable, and constantly changing. (And Pete wonders why I find discomfort in being spontaneous – another story for another time, but you can understand, right?) During the time I lived/spent with my mom, some interesting music memories have stuck out. One was she took me to see an Elton John concert when I was 3 or 4 years old -- I don't remember much from it other than the crazy costumes that he wore and it being really dark except for the spotlight on Elton. Another was when she was driving me to daycare one morning (so again, I’m guessing I was probably about 3 or 4) we were in her Pinto listening to “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. In case you don’t remember it, it’s the song that goes “Cats in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man on the moon…when you coming home dad, I don’t know when, but we’ll be together then, dad, I know we’ll be together then.” Nice little diddy about being abandoned by your father. I find that memory particularly interesting, considering my biological father (whom I like to refer to as The Sperm Donor) never wanted anything to do with me and basically abandoned my mother and I. (Does anyone wonder why I am so nutty??) Anyway, back to the music memories…
I remember looking through my mother’s album collection, and here’s a sampling of the kind of music she was into: Led Zepplin, Elton John (of course), Jethro Tull, The Beatles, and of course, Barry Manilow. Looking back, I find browsing her record collection to be particularly interesting, because she doesn’t strike me as the type of girl who would rock out to a little Led Zepplin, but apparently, she did. Actually, she’s not all that into music, nor has she ever been. I don’t ever remember her just putting on a record and enjoying it. Ever. My awesome musical memories are thanks to my dad.
Now you all have heard me gripe about my dad. Yes, he’s a shithead sometimes, but he’s still my dad. When he married my mom, he took the steps to adopt me and The Sperm Donor was gracious enough to give up his parental rights so my dad could assume his. I always found this admirable, because after all, I’m not really his kid – you know what I mean. But he always treated me like I was, and more importantly, went to court to rewrite history. And no matter how mad he makes me, or how disappointed I get with him and his irresponsible behavior, I will never forget that he came along and became my dad (albeit a dysfunctional one), but hey. It could have been worse! I digress….
My dad grew up in Highland Park and his high school was racially mixed. Looking through my dad’s album collection, I found records by The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder – lots and lots of Motown. In the later 1970s, he played a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire, The Commodores, Donna Summer, Rick James, Michael Jackson (when he was still normal)…I could go on and on. Of course, there was also a lot of disco being played – you couldn’t escape the Bee Gees. One of my favorite memories is of my dad playing “Superfreak” when it came out. He would play it loud (a good stereo was always very important to my dad) and he would play it over and over. I also have the same memories of Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls”. Not exactly the most appropriate music for an elementary-school aged child, but it’s not like I knew what they were talking about and the music was funky and enjoyable. Even today, my dad likes to listen to music loud – especially in the car. He’s one of those people. I looked through his CD collection once a couple of years ago just to see if there was anything “good”. Along with Earth, Wind and Fire (one of my favorites too) was Madonna, Prince and Ricky Martin (the good Ricky Martin CD with “Livin La Vida Loca” on it and not the one that came after that one). I can’t scoff at those artists.
Which brings me back to last Friday and The Morning Jolt. When I heard “La Freak” -- I could see my dad, dancing his heart out in the living room. Even though he doesn’t look like Sherman Helmsley, my dad always kind of reminded me of George Jefferson from “The Jeffersons”. Maybe it’s because he sort of moves like George did, maybe it’s because he is balding like George, or maybe it’s because I swear deep inside my dad, there beats the heart of a black man. Or at least there used to be, until he became a Republican. :) The Morning Jolt reminded me how much joy I get from music and I have my dad to thank for exposing me to a lot of R&B, soul and funk music growing up.
I can’t wait for this Friday to come along, so I can tune into another installment of “Old School Fridays” with Larry and Keith. It’s fun to remember this music and experience it with a couple of middle-aged queens (and I’m not being derogatory here, because trust me, they’ve referred to each other as queens) who have a true appreciation for the music and the fun it brings. And you’ll know it’s me when I’m tuning in – I’ll be the one with the volume turned up and singing my heart out, just like dad did in our living room when I was a kid …”Awwww… Freak OUT…La Freak, so chic…Freak Out!....” HELLYES!