So I went back to Texas for the Christmas holidays for family time with my folks. Everyone has their family oddities and burdens – the weird cousin, the uncle who drinks too much, the critical mom or the hyper competitive sister-in-law. This is countless fodder for books and movies, and while I won’t go in to any family skeletons here, I will say that – as inevitable as a full belly on Christmas Day – my mom has to show us that she’s ‘cool’ when it comes to music.
I must preface this by saying that every year (until just recently actually), since I was oh about eight, my mom has insisted on buying me some music for Christmas. See, for many years, she had one of those Columbia Records memberships. Remember them? Buy 10 records, get 30 free! Mailed directly to you! That was Mom’s Christmas savior and she got all of us something from them every year. She took pride in her musical taste and felt duty-bound to share it with us.
Now when you’re nine or ten it’s not so bad. Pat Benatar? Cool! But when I was in my ‘20s and ‘30s I had to grit my teeth every time I opened one of those neat square packages. Los Lonely Boys? Ummm… thanks. She even forced this annoying gift-giving habit on my husband as soon as we were engaged! She said she wanted to introduce him to Texas music. We’d have a good laugh about it, but then again I’d think, geez, I’ve worked in record stores and written about music and she knows I have very strong tastes, so what the &*#%?
Thankfully, she has stopped buying us music, but her need to flash her musical credentials continues unabated. This year, we were not more than an hour in to our visit when she excitedly turned on her CD player and pulled out her latest, I’m-really-with-it, musical selection – Coldplay’s ‘Viva la Vida’. She breathlessly told us how she’d been looking for it for ages and finally found it at Wal-Mart.
Buying Coldplay at Wal-Mart. In the immortal words of JoBeth Williams (Poltergeist), “What’s happening????”
The scary part is that I fear I’m turning out just like her! I’ve made countless mix tapes for friends, in hopes that they’ll tell me how Neko Case rocked their world or that Elbow should now be considered the greatest pop band of the moment. A couple years ago I sent my niece some selections I considered vital to her musical education. She plays guitar and sings a bit, so my choices covered the female rock spectrum. Now I consider Chrissie Hynde the patron saint of rock moms everywhere, and feel that Liz Phair’s “Exile on Guyville” is life changing. My niece, however …
Ouch! Yes, I’m becoming my mom.
But I will add that Coldplay’s HK show was a musical highlight of 2009!