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Steph can’t make her teens love Pink Floyd as much as she does

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I remember listening to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” for the first time as a senior in high school. It was 1988, and I was lying in my sister’s room on her blue plush carpet, listening to the tape I’d gotten from a friend on her stereo. I can recall staring at the ceiling and feeling … well, feeling. The sounds and the words surrounded me, came around my mind like a protective shield, and made me feel okay about feeling emotional. The music was just as intense as I felt, and it made me feel strangely understood. Good art can do that.

“Good art.” As I write those word, I can hear thousand scoffs travel through Brooklyn and beyond. Of course, not everyone is a fan of Pink Floyd. Of course, what makes any person feel connected to something is so particular. Why did I like Pink Floyd then? Why did others like ZZ Top? Why do some like jazz, and some go for rap? How is it that some bands make you want to jump up and dance, and others leave you completely cold?

These are the questions I constantly ask myself as I try to figure out what is going to get my kids going, what they do and will think is “good.” What works for them is not going to be of my choosing, certainly.

They are going to have to do the work to find the art and artists that satisfies and soothes them. It is a lifelong journey.

Last week, I was excited to be invited by a friend to a private preview show of Roger Waters’ new “Us and Them” concert tour in New Jersey. I was so thrilled to hear those old Pink Floyd songs my body reacted to as if no time had gone by.

The themes of isolation and difficulty in connecting resonated with me in the same way as they did back then. I took so much video of Roger Waters, aged but still rockin’, that my storage on my phone filled up and I wasn’t able to take a pic when he brushed by me later, at the after party. Bummer.

When I got home, I tried to express my excitement to my kids. I asked them if maybe they wanted to get tickets to the show at Barclay’s Center in September. My eldest first asked me to get out of his room, then shared with me the beats he had created himself on his computer. He didn’t seem to hear what I’d said about going to the show. He has tickets to the Governor’s Ball in June to see some of his rap faves. At 16, concerts with his mom are not what he wants on his calendar.

My younger son was in bed, with the lights off, playing with the kitty. I think I got a “great” out of him when I told him the concert was cool, but it was the kind of “great” that says (without saying it explicitly) “Get out of my room.”

I won’t push to take them to see Pink Floyd. There are some things I can force, but when it comes to music, I think it is best to let them create their own connections. I hope for them that the sounds and rhythms and words they find to listen to can offer them the same opportunity that music has given me to feel less alone in their feelings.

Read Fearless Parenting every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.
Updated 5:58 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Sean F from Bensonhurst says:
I run hot and cold on Floyd. The Wall is awesome, as is Dark Side. Some of the rest is kind of ponderous and depressing. None of it is, to me, art. It's just music I enjoy listening to.

When my son was about 11 or 12, he asked if we could watch The Wall movie. I made him a deal that if he finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy (he hates reading), we'd make a movie night of it. Two years later, he told me he'd finally finished the books, so we watched. He said it was dull and depressing, and he preferred the album over the movie.

All we can do as parents is expose our kids to different sorts of music, and respect their choices. My daughter is into hardcore metal (scream-o, I think they call it), Broadway show tunes and Disney music. But, I was into Kiss, Iron Maiden, Metallica, etc. when I was younger. My son likes classic rock, southern rock, country, the Rat Pack, the Beatles, electronic/techno dance music, and pop.

As Bobby Darin said,

"As long as I'm singin'
Then the world's all right
And everything's swingin'
Long as I'm singin' my song."

My kids are singing, and that's all that matters.
May 25, 2017, 11:41 am
Mike L from Kensington says:
I was at the Roger Waters dress rehearsal for his upcoming tour concert too. Phew..I gotta say..though I would take seeing Floyd without Waters as I did a bunch of times..this show was one of if not the biggest spectacles I've ever seen. It was much better than when I saw him solo years ago also at the meadowlands when he had Clapton on gtr.
You should try taking your younger son to the Barclays or MSG show cause it would be really cool for a younger kid to see those old Floyd songs done up with the unbelievable visuals! Those screens were monstrous and the graphics and 3D like effects were outta this world. I think any kid who's into computers and graphics/games would love this show as well as possibly get turned on to all the great old Floyd tunes. The 2 sets he played..you couldn't ask for much better setlists of songs. I'm more a Gilmour fan but definitely loved this Waters show. Plus I loved how much he stuck it to Drump throughout the show on several of the tunes with the images he had of trump lookin like the insane clown he truly is!!
May 25, 2017, 4:03 pm
Wayne from Costa Mesa, CA says:
You hit the nail on the head. Your introduction and mine are nearly identical, except I got the tape from my dad and I popped on the head phones, I lie back and in a little more than an hour my entire life had changed.

The first thing that intriguged me was the use of background sounds. There were things happening in the sound beyond the music itself and I realized that there was more to be understood, and I dug in deeper on several listenings.

The cry of David's guitar...the anguish and pure, raw emoting from Roger's screams and vocals that one could tell were from someone who had such deep feelings for what was being sung...the whole experience stabbed me in the heart over and over and left me in tears as I pleaded with my own bleeding heart alongside them.

My kids can listen to whatever they want as long as it seems age appropriate for them. I hope they find something as close as I have in Floyd/Roger. I hope everyone does. I can't imagine my life without having found it.
May 25, 2017, 5:06 pm
Harriet from Brooklyn Heights says:
You couldn't make a thirsty man drink a glass of water. It's because your not especially convincing, unstructured, lazily self-satisfied (for no obvious reason), and blah. And why is every week about how you can't force your children to do this or that? Is parenting for you just constantly trying to force things on them, then writting the same column again and again about how you've learnt that you can't force them?
May 26, 2017, 4:53 am
samir kabir from downtown says:
However, the author can cut her children's food and digest it for them. Minds of their own? Heaven forbid.
May 26, 2017, 4:54 am
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Your kids sound like major A-holes.
Ditch them before they drag you down with them.
May 27, 2017, 7:25 pm

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