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The Songs Of The Parents Shall Be Visited Upon The Children

Contributor Faith Salie finds out the shocking truth about the music she listened to as a kid.

Friday, April 05, 2013 - 01:02 PM


"The songs of the parents shall be visited upon the children..." Isn’t there a Bible verse that goes something like that?

Ah, the soundtrack of my youth. Not the songs I chose to blast in the car as a teenager when I got my license, not even the Annie LP I played over and over in my pink and green bedroom when I was seven. No, I’m talking way back—the songs that my parents chose for me when I was too little even to pop in an eight-track.

My musical memories are a montage of Olivia Newton John and the original cast album of Hair, with a little Roger Whittaker thrown in. Those are what I remember hearing as my mom and dad drove my brothers and me around in our camper, called a Chinook. (We were neither campers nor Native American, yet this was the family vehicle.)

When I hear any of those songs, I am immediately transported to my childhood, cosseted by their folksy notes. I always believed my parents lovingly curated these tunes for us kids... until one shocking day last summer. As a new mother, I was suddenly conscious that the music we were playing would reach my kid’s ears and sink into his psyche, so I asked my father how he and my mother chose our musical repertoire.

He informed me that they found these eight-tracks by the side of the road on the way home from church one Sunday morning. That’s it. There you have it.

And just like that, all my notions of my childhood soundtracks being conscientiously selected by my parents were dashed. Hilariously, at least. I mean, let’s be honest: the mash up of ONJ, Hair, and Roger Whittaker is ridiculous enough. It’s only fitting that this musical selection was a product of dumpster diving, but without the dumpster. No one wants to get his church clothes all smelly.

What did your parents offer you/inflict upon you musically when you were wee? And why? Have you ever asked them how they curated (or scavenged for) the songs of your childhood? Please do—and share your stories with us!


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Comments [4]

Frank Soriano from NJ

Music, no. Baseball, yes. As a result, on October 3, 1951, while stopped at a light in Livingston N.J., I was an ear witness to history when I heard "The Shot Heard Round the World." Not bad for an 8 year old.

Apr. 09 2013 04:46 PM
Lori from NY

I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis during the 1970s. My parents especially loved Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond. Some of my earliest musical memories are seeing the the album cover of "My Name is Barbra" (I wondered why it wasn't spelled "Barbara" like my mother's friend) and the Neil Diamond 8-track tapes that my dad kept in the glove compartment of his car. They were always in a great mood when they played these albums; I learned implicitly that music can transport you, make you feel something that literally doesn't exist until the music starts. "Sweet Caroline," The Way We Were," "Evergreen," Forever In Blue Jeans,' the list goes on.

Apr. 06 2013 10:54 PM

Great idea, Faith. Growing up in Miami as the son of Cuban immigrants, it was lots of contemporary (70s/80s) salsa on the radio station called "La Cubanísima" (WQBA)- Hansel y Raúl, Willy Chirino, and pre-pop stardom Miami Sound Machine. Still have a soft spot for all of it.

Apr. 06 2013 11:56 AM
Tom from NJ

Without the music my folks had on the radio - or occasionally on the "record player" - I'd be much less the person I am today. Growing up in the 50s, I heard the music of the day; "Poor Butterfly," "Ghost Riders In The Sky," Sinatra, Armstrong, Ella. I love it all now. I pretty sure I enjoyed it then.
"Inflicted"? No way.

Apr. 06 2013 07:42 AM

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