Apr 292008

Like teaching a curveball to a young boy whose arm has not yet matured – or starting that same preteen boy on a heavy course of weightlifting – are there bands or albums that can be harmful to a young person’s musical development if exposed at too young an age?

This came up in a recent discussion with Townsman Andyr. I was telling him about our preadolescent boy getting into ELO‘s “Do Ya” and “Living Thing” and asking me to play him more of their music. When I told Andyr that my son asked me if “Do Ya” was the first heavy metal song, Andyr said, “Did you use this as an opportunity to open a discussion with him on The Move vs ELO?” My old friend knows me too well. Of course I did, and I made a mental note to play him the original “Do Ya” in the coming days!

Then Andyr asked me if I was going to turn him onto Roy Wood‘s Boulders. “No,” was my immediate reply, “he’s too young for that one.” That’s when Andyr brought up the curveball analogy. Having my boy jump ahead to a premature appreciation for Boulders (longshot that it might be) could mess up his musical development. It’s not that the material is “inappropriate,” in some prudish sense, but possibly loving it before working his way through the fundamentals of that strain of British pop music might give him a skewed idea of rock ‘n roll. He might blow out a forearm muscle and never learn to properly play power chords. You know what I mean?

I once had a similar feeling as a flea market, when a 12-year-old boy wanted to buy a used copy of John Cale‘s Slow Dazzle from a bin I was manning. Beside the fact that I didn’t want this boy leaving with a copy of an album I felt sucked and didn’t deserve to ever be resold (even if it was my own dreaded copy I was looking to move), I was worried that his possibly liking that album without first liking a great John Cale album might hinder his ability to ever discern good from bad Cale albums.

To those of you who’ve been entrusted with the musical development of young people, have you ever faced such a dilemma? I look forward to your sharing.


  3 Responses to “Oh, Very Young”

  1. Most music I think is harmful for kids is, ironically, the very stuff that is marketed toward them. Kidz Bop. Fucking Laurie Berkner and her dumb-ass moron music. Cheap-ass MIDI bullshit non-music made by some dweeb with a SoundCanvas and a hired jingle singer. The craptacular music I hear on kid’s TV shows like Dora The Explorer. Weird dudes who perform in wacky outfits, singing dopey songs that make you think the guy probably is a creep with really bad personal hygene.

    I know that’s not what you’re asking, though.

    Tago Mago is probably not for children, might seem scary. Marquee Moon, perhaps. Anything with a scary kind of vibe, like a lot of Industrial stuff (not that I sit around listening to Skinny Puppy anyway) just until they’re old enough to understand that it’s all just a construct.

  2. Mr. Moderator

    Good suggestions, Cherguevara, even the stuff I may not have been asking for. It is important that we protect our young from the Kidz Bop stuff that’s out there.

  3. 2000 Man

    I never much cared what my kids listened to. Then again, I don’t listen to anything all that “adult” anyway. I like plain old rock n roll most, so that’s what I listen to. They both loved Zappa when they were young, because he sang about eating yellow snow. One of them was into the Spice Girls, and I got to see that movie with him.

    They both grew up listening to a much broader spectrum of music than me, and their Snob Factor is nowhere near as huge as mine. I figured it was like my dad did with me when it came to reading. I was allowed to read anything I felt I understood. His Playboy subscription did mysteriously end when I started “understanding” that one.

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