My 14-year-old kid discovered “Rhapsody in Blue” this summer.
It’s one of my favorite pieces of music. My dad loved it, too. When my kid fell in love with it at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, I wondered whether an affinity for particular pieces of music or styles is inherited. But then I remembered my kid turns his nose up at Bruce Springsteen, proclaiming one of my musical heroes “too country.”
Bruce? Too country?
So, maybe my kid isn’t quite as smart as I sometimes think he is, but I cut him a little slack: This past summer, which bridged his middle and high school years, has been a busy one for him. He spent nearly two weeks studying piano at Blue Lake, and nearly a week at marching band camp.
Add in the time he spent cutting lawns and odd jobbing for money, the time he spent with his friends and his Xbox, and the sleepovers away from home, well, it sometimes felt this summer like he’s my boarder, not my kid, or that I am more his driver than mom.
It was during a quick shopping trip to Meijer last week that the kid cued up “Rhapsody in Blue” in my car.
As most Howell residents can attest, “quick” trips to Meijer this summer ranged anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on what’s happening with the Latson Road interchange construction and the time of day.
This day, the three straight-shot miles from our downtown Howell home to Meijer was taking about 35 minutes. And what better way to pass time stuck in traffic than listening to music?
My kid kept me entertained, pointing out his favorite parts of “Rhapsody in Blue” and keeping rhythm.
Then, he switched from Gershwin to The Beatles.
“I found a remastered version of ‘Sergeant Pepper’s’ that I want you to hear,” he said, using my iPhone to find it on YouTube.
I listened skeptically, but this remixed version was actually fun.
On the way home we listened to more Beatles: “Drive My Car,” “Penny Lane,” then “All You Need is Love.” While we listened, we discussed the Beatles. We talked about their lives, the various musical periods of their time together, how they wrote songs, and whether Yoko Ono really broke up the band.
I answered him as best I could, impressed with the depth of his knowledge of the Fab Four.
“Where did you learn all this,” I asked.
“I don’t always read books before I go to sleep,” he said. “Sometimes I listen to music.”
As we neared our house, my kid turned to me.
“Can we drive around some more? This is fun. I want to keep listening to the Beatles with you.”
And there it was, one of those magical moments that appear like fluttering ribbons, moments that disappear forever if you don’t grab them when they first unfurl.
So I grabbed with gusto, my heart full of song, my soul full of joy.
I opened the sunroof.
I rolled down the windows.
We passed our house, talking some and listening some, with John, Paul, George and Ringo providing the soundtrack.
I savored my magical summer gift from the teenage-parenting gods before tucking it away for a cold winter’s day.
Goo goo ga joob.