Fathers and sons rarely are kindred spirits when it comes to musical tastes. My sons and I are not an exception to this rule. In fact, one afternoon, I came running downstairs when I heard some sort of scratching/screaming sound1, only to discover that it was my 14 year old son listening to something on his phone, using a bluetooth speaker.
“What is that?” I asked.
“It’s [insert band name here]2” he replied, matter-of-factly.
And then I asked a question that I swore I would never ask as a parent.
It’s some kind of rite of passage in the modern age. Music changes as time goes on, our fathers didn’t like our heavy metal, their fathers didn’t like their Rolling Stones, and our great-grandfathers weren’t all too fond of jazz or rhythm and blues. It’s part of that natural movement towards rebellion that draws our children to music that we may not appreciate all that much. It’s a literal siren’s song, I guess.
There’s no better example of this disconnect for my sons and I, then with the band Twenty One Pilots3. As someone who has struggled with a variety of mental health issues, I should appreciate TOP for the courageous light they shine on those sort of things. However, I can’t get past their, for lack of a better term, schizophrenic, approach to their musical style.4
So when my oldest son, who is now 20, came to me a few years ago to ask about going to a Twenty One Pilots concert in Columbus, OH, I was not all that eager to agree to it. But he and his younger brother were absolutely crazy about this band, and as a dad, I wanted to do something nice for them.
We were able to secure tickets, I reserved a hotel room up the street from the venue, and we made our plans to go. To Columbus. A place I’d only heard of and never been to.
And while I didn’t enjoy most of the concert, I appreciated the headliner’s ability to put on a really fun and entertaining show. But the opening acts? I actually dug them more.
And one of the opening acts was a band I had never heard of, called Judah & The Lion.5
A band that blends everything from hip hop to banjo into an alternative rock stew, Judah & The Lion played a fun set that included tracks from their current album at the time, Folk Hop ‘n Roll, and a cover of “Tubthumping”, a song I absolutely loathe.6
Terrible cover song aside, Judah & the Lion were fun. And I dug ‘em. Especially their song, “Take it all Back”.
I dug that song so much, I immediately added the album to my Apple Music, and played it, along with some choice Twenty One Pilots tracks on our drive home.
A modern spin on what I can only assume is the book of Ecclesiastes, the writer laments the loss of someone important to him, and in an attempt to prove the extent of his loss, he’d give everything up just for that person. Much like King Solomon, in his waning years, realized that everything he had was vanity without the fear of God at the forefront of his mind.
I don’t listen to Judah & the Lion all that much. But I look at this album as a sobering reminder of time with my sons, who, as they grow older, grow a bit further from me and my own tastes. Sometimes I lament over the choices that they make, and even if it’s not sin, I wonder why they make some of the choices that they do.
Sometimes I wonder if I did something wrong as a dad. If they can’t pick the right music, how are they going to make right choices? But then again, sometimes I have to let things go. Let them make their choices.
And while I may be quick to run and investigate what I think is something wrong, maybe it’s just music to them. Maybe what I think is noise, is culture to them. And maybe I have to just let them enjoy what they want to enjoy. Even if it might be painful to me.
And sometimes I have to take a step into their culture, just to understand them.
When we returned from our trip, exhausted from two days of traveling without much sleep, I turned to my oldest son, and said, “I get it now.” I’m not a fan of Twenty One Pilots, but I’m a fan of his. And sometimes you have to take the things you don’t like, and just push that aside just to find some sort of common ground.
Because some things you can’t take back. Like the hours we spent in the car, our in the hotel, or standing in the arena while they basked in the glory of Tyler Joseph rapping about Blurry Face, or laughing at Josh Dun playing a trumpet AND the drums.7
I wouldn’t take that back for anything in the world.
I thought maybe there was something wrong with the fuse box in the basement or even worse, the television. God forbid something happen to the television.
I can’t remember who he said it was. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it anyway, for fear of some rabid fanbase coming after me for my alleged ignorance.
Bear with me, I know this is about Judah & The Lion, but don’t worry, I’ll get to them soon.
They sort of address this with the song “Lane Boy”, I think.
Told you I’d get to them.
Seriously, it’s the worst song of the 90’s, right next to Lou Bega’s “Mambo #5” and the entirety of the Limp Bizkit catalog.
Or joking about the drunk guy who stood next to us during the entire show. We got hours of laughter from talking about DiNO (Drunk and Obnoxious).