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.