I’ve had an epiphany lately. As much as we may not want to admit it, I think there’s a chance many of us in our 30’s and 40’s are morphing into those adults we made fun of back in the day. I know that’s hard to hear, but I think the evidence is becoming a little bit undeniable. Where am I getting this from? Well, being in the bishopric for our ward, I get the ultimate privilege of chaperoning youth dances in our valley.
(As an aside, I’m going to indulge myself with a little rant at this moment. See, I’m still a little unclear on why we go through the process of telling our youth they need dance cards in order to attend dances and then requiring a member of every bishopric from all three stakes to attend each dance in case someone…anyone…shows up without a dance card and needs someone to speak for them from their ward.
Either enforce the dance card requirement with no exception or, set up a tribunal inside the front door and pass judgment on each person as they enter with a quick thumbs up or down based on their appearance and overall general attitude. I think it would be just as effective and free up quite a few adults who might actually have other plans on a weekend night, but I digress.)
Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and pray that the DJ I’m about to describe is not a regular reader of my blog, because I might be a tad critical in just a moment. See, the thing is, several times at these dances I have observed playlists that do not include more than three songs that have been released since 1990. If I was a teenager, I would seriously be like, “WHAT? Are you kidding me?”
I mean, think about it. How would those of us who are children of the ’80s have felt if we showed up time after time to dances at the Stake Center only to hear the top 10 greatest hits of 1969? Knowing our generation, I don’t think we would have handled it well.
Hey, kids. Let’s slow it down now to this timeless tune from the Everly Brothers. I know some of you have been requesting Brian Adams, but seriously, that song is off the soundtrack of a movie with someone’s naked rear-end in it. So we’ll stick with this harmless melody about some girl named Cathy and her pet Clown.
Yeah…not so much.
But yet, somehow we expect these kids to be okay with doing line-dancing, or YMCAing, or any other fast dance that will in no way require members of the opposite sex to actually touch each other. And to add insult to injury, most of these dances are done to songs that came out before any of them were born.
Now, the reasoning behind this that I have heard is:
It’s just too hard to find music today that is appropriate.
Really??? This from the generation that produced such uplifting spiritual tomes such as: Pour Some Sugar on Me, Push It, Armageddon It, Take Me Down To Paradise City, Welcome to the Jungle, Walk This Way (Run DMC Version) and oh so many more. And maybe I came from an apostate stake, but most of these were played at church dances. The difference? I believe our parents had much less interest in the music we listened to and spent their time at our dances doing their best to ignore what was coming out of the speakers rather than policing it. Only a brutal in-your-face Son-of-a-B—- reference blaring from the alternate version of The Devil Went Down to Georgia would often get a reaction.
Anyway, the truth is, it is more difficult to find songs without a swear word in it today. But they do exist. And if we want our kids to have any interest in attending these church functions, we need to take the time to find them.
And I know I’m really going to get in trouble for this suggestion, but we need to be a little less puritanical in what we get worked up over. For some of our parents, the musical rebellion was found in listening to songs about sneaking off with the leader of a biker gang. Certainly not the behavior our grandparents advocated. For those of us with younger parents, the behavior described gets a little dicier. Take for instance the multiple drug references found throughout the works of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Mamas and The Papas and Simon and Garfunkle. Or dare I mention the many sexual allusions found in the hits of Neil Diamond.
As far as our generation is concerned, I’ve already alluded to several songs that are highly suggestive or downright descriptive. And I didn’t even touch on some of the worst ones.
But now, we are the ones fretting over whether or not Miley Cyrus worked in a drug reference in her latest song. Let me help clear this up by saying: I’m sure she did and…so what? If the song has a good beat and catchy lyrics, our kids are going to like it. And they will want to dance to it. But I’d be willing to bet that if we have done our jobs as parents, they will not join her on a wrecking ball several weeks after being subjected to her music. It didn’t happen to our parents, it didn’t happen to us and it won’t happen to them.
No, I have a feeling they will end up looking back and shaking their heads in slight embarrassment that one of the iconic songs from their high school years is Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. It’s a horrible song…but it’s theirs. Just like I’ll Make Love To You by Boyz II Men is ours. We may not have picked it had we been given a choice, but it is ours nonetheless.
So, as I wrap this up, am I saying we should play Robin Thicke at the next church dance? No. But I do believe we should go out of our way to provide music to our kids that is theirs…not ours. Neon Moon was a stupid song when it came out in the 1980s. We should not be forcing it down our kids’ throats thirty years later as one of only three slow songs played at a dance. (I have witnessed this happening at a minimum of three dances I have attended. All the same DJ, but seriously? Neon Moon? It’s title references bar hopping and drinking all by itself. So what was it we were saving our kids from anyway?)
I believe we should trust our kids enough to let them supply their own play list. Let them be the DJ’s. That’s how it was when we were kids. (Obviously be selective in which kids you trust to compile that list.) And if we hear something we think might be questionable? Take a minute…breathe deeply…and recall that first church dance we attended at age 14. You know the one. The dance where it took all night to work up the nerve to ask that special girl/guy to dance. And when the magical moment arrived, each of us can still recall how nervous and yet ecstatic we were to be holding her/him in our arms. And what was that song playing over the speakers? Oh yeah, it was Love Bites by Def Leppard.
And by and large we still turned out okay.
I’m pretty sure they will too.