I’m driven by music; I grew up vibrating in four-four time. I never believed in love, probably because I always imagined I’d fuck my life up by getting together with a musician. Instead I lucked into this academic who isn’t a big fan of concerts and guitars, who anchors me instead with the kind of harmony that doesn’t need sound.
He understands how I thrive on the other, though.
Last year on our anniversary, Scott stayed home with the kids so I could drive to Birmingham and see The Head and the Heart. In his opinion, he missed getting a sore back. I would have lost out on so much more. Because seeing a good band perform, dancing invisible in the crowd, singing along with every song, these things mend a gaping breach, a soul-chasm that rends and must be re-sewn often.
This past summer, I tried to see Amanda Fucking Palmer, but I went to the wrong stage at the right venue and accidentally fell in love with Songs of Water. Not that I wasn’t pissed about missing AFP. Just that I had so much fun that it was worth it.
I’ve worried about the kids for years now. I always had access to live music as a child, and it’s something we’ve never given them. They’ve absorbed what little we’ve offered. They adore the really bad cover-show Six Flags puts on for Fright Fest. They rocked out when we went to see the Wiggles a few years back for fuck’s sake.
They want to dance in the crush and pulse with the drums. But Caroline’s sensory processing issues and Sam’s behavior problems have made concerts impractical choices, at best. She melts unexpectedly, and he’s still apt to vanish without warning. Nonetheless, when I found out Houndsmouth was coming to Athens, Georgia, about three hours away from us, I hit an impasse.
I mumbled my way out of The Head and the Heart thing with the kids. They had school the next day and I didn’t sit down once in four hours. They aren’t as into AFP as I am, so I dodged that bullet, too. (Just as well, since I went to the wrong concert.)
But they share my taste in music. Houndsmouth is probably Caroline’s favorite band right now. Sam’s still only eight, arguably too young (though by whose standards I’ve begun to wonder). But Caroline just turned twelve. I couldn’t justify leaving her behind again. So I packed earplugs, made sure she wore practical shoes with good insoles, and got her a ticket for her birthday.
Best. Decision. Ever.
She stomped in time and withstood the press of the crowd. She understood without being told when to clap her hands above her head and scream for more. She seemed to sing every line, even to songs she’d never before heard.
And I knew without question that I’ve waited far too long for this. I’ve let asshole suburban values stand between my kids and something fundamental. And make no mistake, this is my responsibility.
Scott is not at fault here. We’re a parenting team, yes. I’d never commit to anything so momentous without his support, and any real decisions are made by the two of us, not by me in rambling blog essays. But I want to be clear that I’m pissed at myself here, not him. He’s not standing around hovering hen-like, trying to hold them back.
I should have known from my own experiences how important this is. I should have been taking Caroline to shows for years now, and I need to get her to another one soon. More than that, next time, I need to take her brother, even if I have to fasten him to my side with superglue.
Rock-and-roll isn’t an adult-only experience. Kids need it, too, mine more than most. They need to hear music when they can feel it. They need to go to the place where the band telepathically supplies the lyrics and the audience amplifies the song. They need to be assimilated into a whole far larger than the sum of its parts. They need to metamorphosize into the thing they are singing and emerge rejuvenated from the collective. They need to become the fabric that stitches itself whole, even as new edges fray and shred.
Music does its own teaching without lecture aids or slide projectors. Those things have their places, even for the artists themselves. But the love begins in the experience. Concerts are the first places Caroline and Sam will completely see their own potential to create.
Why in the hell have I withheld that?
I can’t remember any longer.
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.