The Man in Black and a 16 Year Old

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On a ski team bonding weekend trip last month, my son sang along with his phone as it played Johny Cash’s Folsum Prison Blues:  “When I was just a baby, my mama told me, son, always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns. . . ”  His 20-something coach looked up and asked why he knew the words to that song.  “Don’t you?”  my slightly disrespectful kid asked.  In his mind, Johny is so fabulous, he can’t imagine anyone not knowing the words to his songs.

He listens to hip hop and dubstep (are those different things?), country and classical.  He shares an iTunes account with his dad and plays gospel, “Oh Happy Day,” Bob Marley and Aerosmith. He hears a Hall and Oates song on The Voice and searches it on YouTube, downloads it from iTunes and two days later I hear him coming up the stairs singing, “you make-a my dreams come true.”  Ooo o.  O o ooo o.

Our digital world is changing the culture of music.  When I was young (I say, sounding like my grandma) we listened to whatever played on the radio, mix tapes (often recorded from the radio) and our friends’ vinyl collections over and over.  “Oldies” were for our parents.  Today, music is more fluid:  a new song samples a classic, and an entire generation is exposed to the beauty of Etta James.

This respect for artists of all genres feels new.  It gives me hope and confidence in a generation that is growing in its own direction, with its own culture, sense of style and appreciation for artistic talent, whenever and where ever it was born.

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