Those of you who know me well will be aware that I love listening to music, so much so that I get anxious if there isn’t a song playing somewhere in the background pretty much at all times whether that be in the car, in the kitchen or just reading a book. I even used to listen to music while studying or doing my homework which I’m not sure is best practice but seemed to work at the time. I know that I can trace this positive association with music back to my early childhood where my dad was constantly singing (badly) as he made his way around the house. Mellow Yellow by Donovan was a consistent favourite and he would try to use it to diffuse contentious situations, although his constantly repeating “they call me mellow yellow” probably had the opposite effect than what was intended. My mum also had a strong affinity for music and managed to brainwash me with Jolene by Dolly Parton in my formative years. To this day I can’t stop a bit of toe-tapping whenever it comes on the radio which thankfully is seldom enough (why did she take her man?) Thankfully she kept her Leonard Cohen sessions until past my bedtime or I might not be the cheerful chap I am today!
Now that I am the parent I have made it my own personal crusade to similarly influence my own children with my incredibly distinguished musical tastes. There is nothing that gives me greater satisfaction than having a massive family dance-off (normally when Niki isn’t around) to a mega-mix of Cotton-Eye Joe, Rhythm is a Dancer and Mr Vain or any other 90s dance classic. This is always great fun until the boys decide to turn the dancing into a massive mosh (usually after Lochlan has given his younger brother a sly elbow) which leads to me reprimanding them severely, “no moshing in the kitchen, well at least until the House of Pain has started on my playlist!”
The odd bit of mild physical violence aside, I have found music to be a great way to bond with the kids. Aaron likes to have a weekly rundown of the Spotify “Top 50 in Ireland” chart to see what the latest tunes are, in the same way that I used to spend Thursday evenings watching Top of the Pops with my parents. Although as an unforeseen spin-off of my censorship policy, Aaron also likes to count the number of songs that are blocked off / prohibited due to explicit language which these days seems to be about 50% of the hits. He also gets quite annoyed if I continuously play my “Big in the 80s” or “Absolutely 90s” playlists which just goes to show that the old adage that “we all eventually turn into our parents” is completely true.
Lochlan, to my amazement (and delight) given his rugged approach to life, is a big fan of show-tunes and in particular The Greatest Showman. He would quite happily have the soundtrack on repeat for hours on end or at least until he is told he can have some screen-time at which point he is gone like a shot! Oscar has yet to find his niche but I feel Nine Inch Nails or some form of death metal could be his sweet spot given his tendency towards teenage-like mood swings at the tender age of six! Ella is probably the most fun member of the brunch (as usual) and just loves any type of music particularly if she is dancing in her daddy’s arms. Particular favourites are “Shallow” (or Gaga as she calls it), “Nina Cries Power” (Nina Power) and the Connacht Gold Milk jingle (fresh cold milk everyday). Although I have noticed that my ability to bounce for more than 30 seconds with child in arms has consistently diminished over the years. I used to be able to keep going for all of Cafe del Mar with Aaron, now I just about get to the first chorus.
As part of my daddy duties I have tried to provide a bit of musical education to my offspring. So when the boys listen to Ariana Grande singing “7 rings” I follow up by playing the song that it samples “Favourite Things” from The Sound of Music and I try to play some Neneh Cherry after a song by Mabel (her daughter) to which the boys normally reply “why does that sound so old?” I even ventured to play some Beatles at one point while trying to explain that basically all modern music can be traced back through these four Liverpudlians, however Aaron and Lochlan just seemed to take this as an affront to their allegiance to Chelsea!
I’ve always been a fan of the saying “dance like nobody’s watching” or with my spin on it “dance with only your kids watching as it would be a bit weird doing dad dancing in a nightclub these days and it’s only a matter of time until your knees give out anyway!” So while the kids will still tolerate me and I reckon I’ve got a good decade left until Ella starts to disown me, I’ll keep my dancing shoes polished and ready for action. I still can’t floss though!