My daughter is now thirteen. A teenager. She’s reached one of life’s biggest milestones… at least, what I considered to be a milestone back in 1982 when I turned thirteen. That year, as a seventh grade student at Chestnut School in North Olmsted, was a turning point for me. Music became the second most important thing in my life. The first, of course, was girls. At thirteen I experienced mind-dumbing crushes on my female peers, as hormones raged through my body. It’s a wonder I passed any of my courses. Each class had at least one young lady that I pined for, a girl I tried to impress with smartass remarks and rude outbursts in class. It’s also a wonder that my teachers were so lenient on me. It takes a patient and graceful instructor to tolerate the changing minds and emotions of teenage boys. I was lucky and I know it. I sometimes wonder if my daughter likes any boys; I try not to dwell on it. Does she pass notes or do they exchange texts between classes? She’s a bright girl who is focused on her schoolwork. That’s what my parents thought about me, too. Should I be worried?
In seventh grade I also kissed a girl for the first time. It occurred during a party and an innocent game of spin the bottle. Well, I thought it was innocent until I mentioned this to my wife and her sister. Their incredulous stares made me feel like some kind of gigolo. “You played spin the bottle in seventh grade?” Believe me, I was no Tom Crusie. Nearby, my daughter listened in on our conversation. Looking at her, I thought, “Uh-uh. No way. No kissing for my baby girl.” But she’s at that age, understand? Well, the boys she around are at that age. I don’t know what teenage girls think about. It’s not like she’s going to share these things with her dad. I’ll have to wait to get the intel from her mother.
As I said, music was the next most important part of my life at thirteen. I attended my first rock concert that winter, accompanied by my older brother, who was in high school at the time. The show was Pat Benatar, supporting her album, Get Nervous (“Shadows of the Night”) and the opening act was the Canadian prog rock band, Saga (“On the Loose”). Three months later I took to my second big rock concert, Billy Squier with opening act, Def Leppard (although most people were on hand to see Leppard, burning up the charts with Pyromania). For that one I went with my friend, Bob H. and his high school sister. As a parent, the thought of letting my daughter into the car with a high school student as their chaperone scares the crap out of me.
Besides my first taste of live music and the first time my ears began ringing, rock ‘n’ roll became my savior, an outlet for my frustrations and feelings of isolation. I’d begun playing the drum set religiously, spending hours shattering Pro-Mark drumsticks against the rims of my brother’s black Rogers five piece and Zildjian cymbals. Oh how I imagined being on stage in a spotlight, looking out at a mass of people. Guys thrusting their fists in adulation and girls shrieking my name, hoping I’d look their way. It was later that year, when I played in my first rock band, that I learned that the front men received all of the glory and the drummers were around for comic relief.
Although I had begun collecting albums, I still obtained most of my music the old fashioned way: by setting my portable cassette player next to the radio speaker and recording songs off of the radio. Using recycled tapes my dad gave me, or cheap ones bought 3 for $1 at Gold Circle, I had hours of music to cull from when trying to advance my mad skills as a rock drummer. Furthermore, those tapes gave me a window into the world of other genres- new wave, soul, 70’s cock rock and 50’s doo-wop. My collection of tapes always included minor discoveries- songs that received limited airplay and happened to come on while I was still recording. One such song was Marshall Crenshaw’s “Someday, Someway.” It was one of my favorites from the summer of 1982. As the year progressed and the song faded from most people’s memories, I still had my copy of that timeless pop song to play whenever I wanted. It had an aching beauty that filled the gaps between the beats of my lonely heart.
A few years back I wrote about The Buggles hit, “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I recalled how my daughter would bounce her legs along to the music while in played in our car. At that time, my daughter had no recollection of her other most requested song from when she was a toddler, which was “Someday, Someway.” Soon thereafter, I made my kids their own “Rockin’ CD,” featuring the songs they knew from movies (such as “All Star” from Shrek and “Ballroom Blitz” from Daddy Day Care). I made a point to include the Buggles and Marshall Crenshaw to the collection. When Jacob first heard “Someday, Someway” he looked at me and said, “I don’t know this one.” My daughter quickly replied, “That’s because it’s one of my songs.”
To this day she still calls “Someday, Someway” one of her songs. It blows my mind that she’s reached the age when I first heard many of my favorite tracks, and that some of them have become her favorites, too. Instead of recycled tapes, she has an iPod to listen to them; instead of waiting by the radio in anticipation she has Spotify and Amazon to appease her.
The “Rockin’ CD” has become a “Rockin’ Playlist” and even though she doesn’t listen to it as often as she used to, whenever the family is on another long drive to the beach or a relative’s house, those songs eventually come on. When they do, I can’t help glancing back during Crenshaw to see how she reacts. These days, instead of bouncing her legs with the music she usually stares out the window, mouthing the words. If she catches me looking, she’s most inclined to give me a quick, embarrassed scowl, as if to say, “stop looking at me” (she is a teenager, after all). But there are times-times that I treasure- when she reacts with a smile, a quiet acknowledgement of the link this song has between the two of us.