Fatherhood from the Driver’s Seat

I’ve written previously about car trips with my son.  He just tolerates being shackled to a car seat, and given that he’s 17 months old, of course that displeasure is expressed through a highly effective, droning whine.  I don’t have the heart to tell him that he should get used to it; this only the beginning.  So instead we pretend it’s an inconvenience limited to childhood, and fill the space with the distraction of music.  “The Wheels on the Bus” is usually more effective than whatever indie tune I’d rather hear, though.  He has my ears, but he doesn’t have my “ears.”

Yet?  Maybe ever.  I don’t know, but I keep trying…

So it was nice this morning when I wasn’t trying.  I just coincidentally happened to have Owen’s L’Ami du Peuple playing - I was listening to it this weekend while running errands.  It’s a record I keep returning to, as it gradually morphs into one of my favorite albums.  SPIN praised its “disarming intimacy,” as man-behind-the-moniker Mike Kinsella reflects on new fatherhood, the disappointment of adulthood, lost love, and the death of his father.

"Is this really all there is?" Kinsella asks on "Coffin Companions," a song that only gets more painfully real as it describes the daily repetition of middle age: take meds to sleep, alarm, work, take meds to sleep, die.  

Gone are the smiles and wide-eyed optimism of our 20s.  In your 30s is when angst matures into anguish, but by then we’re too old and too busy to be speaking of such things.  “Of all the coffins in all the dreadful corners of the world / You chose mine, and I, yours.”  It’s the most romantic line on the record.

Love is Not Enough" is even more direct: "Love is not enough / We need some money / I can see some guys give up / How good apples go bad."  There are other musicians who have explored this territory, musing on how adulthood is basically a scam, but Kinsella is particularly effective in revealing how the expectations of our youth require tempering as we beat back against Real Life and its consequences: "May we find a place in Heaven / That doesn’t flood when it rains."

Anyway, back to my son.  Thankfully he’s young enough to be oblivious to all of this.  But he responds to beat and melody, and he loves to dance.  L’Ami du Peuple isn’t dancing music; it stirs a quieter response.  And despite everything I’ve written above, it’s actually a soothing album.  There is a gentleness to the vocals and the music that belies the lyrical content.  So, as the delicate strumming of “I Got High” began, my son forwent the demand for “The Wheels on the Bus,” and quietly flipped through his kids’ magazine.  And at one point, I swear it sounded like he was trying to sing along.

Maybe he’s still too young to share my ear for music, or maybe he never will.  But if today is all I’ll get - I’ll take it.

Happy birthday, Ray LaMontagne! If only my wife loved me as much as she loves you…

subpop:

J Mascis will return on 8/26 with the new record, ‘Tied to a Star’! Listen to the lead-off track, “Every Morning”, and head to http://u.subpop.com/tiedtoastar to pre-order.

justintownesearle:

Single Mothers comes out 9/9!

Considering we sorta named our son after him (and decided it at his 2012 TLA show in Philly), I’m very excited for the new Justin Townes Earle album, due Sept 9 on Vagrant Records.

justintownesearle:

Single Mothers comes out 9/9!

Considering we sorta named our son after him (and decided it at his 2012 TLA show in Philly), I’m very excited for the new Justin Townes Earle album, due Sept 9 on Vagrant Records.

under-radar-mag:

On Aug. 5 Spoon will releaseThey Want My Soul, the follow-up to band’s 2010 LP Transference. Today frontman Britt Daniel and co. have premiered the studio version of LP’s lead single “Rent I Pay.”

under-radar-mag:

On Aug. 5 Spoon will releaseThey Want My Soul, the follow-up to band’s 2010 LP Transference. Today frontman Britt Daniel and co. have premiered the studio version of LP’s lead single “Rent I Pay.”

Wilcoworld is streaming “I’ll Sing It,” the first song from Jeff Tweedy’s not-quite-solo album (featuring Jeff’s son Spencer on drums), Sukierae (pronounced “sue-key-ray”).

I have fond memories of helping my then-infant son fall asleep to Wilco’s “My Darling,” a song Jeff Tweedy wrote for Spencer when he was a baby, so I’m hoping for good things from this project.

The War on Drugs, “Eyes to the Wind”

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Despite being a huge fan of The War on Drugs, it took me a long time to get into the band’s new album, Lost in the Dream.  Not that I was trying very hard - I’d just put it on in the background and go do something else.  Sometimes music needs you to be in a certain headspace, and I just wasn’t there until now.  So when illness forced me to lose three days of work this week, I finally gave Lost in the Dream the attention it deserves.

There’s a lot of great stuff on here, but I think “Eyes to the Wind” is my new jam:

Lost inside my head / Is this the way I’ll be denied…again?

Found this nice live version, too:

I included The Afghan Whigs’ “Algiers” on GTI’s Spring 2014 mix, but felt it was worth its own post because it’s been stuck in my head all weekend, and I really think it might be one of the best songs of the year.

It’s comforting to know that there are people just as nerdy as me…

On the way to drop my son off at daycare, I usually have to sing kid songs the whole way.  “If You’re Happy And You Know It,” “The Wheels on the Bus”…that sort of thing.  I’m a terrible singer, but he’ll whine the whole way if I don’t.

On the way home, I can usually get away with playing real music, and lately I’ve been trying to get him into good stuff like Spoon.  He seemed to get a kick out of “I Saw The Light” yesterday, and words cannot express how happy that makes me.