Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wait a Minute, This Song Is a Metaphor

“1901” by Phoenix is playing on the radio while Minnow and I drive to the Long Island Children’s Museum on a rainy April morning.  At the conclusion of the song the DJ mentions that at this year’s Coachella Festival, Phoenix invited R. Kelly on stage to sing “Ignition Remix” while they performed “1901” in an unexpected musical mash-up.  I started laughing as I imagined R. Kelly commanding the crowd to “Bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce,” while Phoenix sang, “Fold it, fold it, fold it, fold it.”

“Why you laughing, Mommy?”

“Oh, Minnow!  I miss that song.”

I haven’t heard “Ignition Remix” probably since sophomore year of college.  It was THE song of Spring Break 2003, when my girlfriends and I partied at the beaches and clubs of Nassau, Bahamas.  Now here I am navigating a slick boulevard in Nassau County, NY with my toddler in the backseat, and all I want is to be ten years younger, sipping a Bahama Mama while wearing a midriff top in some seedy Caribbean nightclub. 

At the next red light I download “Ignition Remix” onto my iPhone and plug it into the car stereo.  Within seconds the familiar keyboard intro is filling the interior of the Jeep.

No I’m not trying to be rude,
But hey pretty girl I’m feeling you,
The way you do the things you do,
Remind me of my Lexus Coup.

By the third play of the song, Minnow is singing toot toot and beep beep along with R. Kelly.  By the fourth play of the song, I start really listening to the lyrics and realize: This song (like R. Kelly himself) is horribly inappropriate for young children! Especially smart, impressionable ones.  I had no idea what this song was actually about, probably because I was drunk when it was popular.  It’s not about cars!  It’s a metaphor!

And then another thought dawns on me: What other questionable music is my daughter absorbing while cruising in the car with me?  It drives my mother-in-law batty that Minnow’s favorite song is “Time Spent in Los Angeles’ by Dawes.  The chorus goes like this:

You’ve got a special kind of sadness,
You’ve got a tragic set of charms,
That only comes from time spent in Los Angeles,
Makes me want to wrap you in my arms.

But according to my daughter, the chorus goes like this:

You’ve got a special kind of sadness,
You’ve got a special kind of sadness,
You’ve got a special kind of sadness,
You’ve got a special kind of sadness… (And into infinity).

“I don’t like that song she sings,” my mother-in-law says.  “It’s about sadness.”

“It’s not, really.  It’s about California, which is pretty much the opposite of sadness,” I reply.

But I still feel guilty because Dawes is certainly not Mozart.  In fact, Mozart is not on Minnow’s iTunes playlist, but Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, and Loudon Wainwright III are.  It’s my fault.  I’m not one of those moms willing to listen to the “Hokey Pokey” on repeat in the car.  Driving is stressful enough.  But, admittedly, I was growing weary of  “I Will Wait,” “Ho Hey,” and “Daughter,” so I sort of embraced that the kid was digging R. Kelly.

I am hoping Minnow will forget all about “Ignition Remix,” by the time we leave the Long Island Children’s Museum, but when we get back into the car she immediately requests the “car song.”

“What song?” I ask, feigning ignorance.

“Toot toot!  Beep beep! Cars talking, Mommy.”

Minnow continues to ask for the “car song” each time we get into the Jeep for the next few days.  On Sunday morning, as we’re driving to church, Minnow again makes her appeal. 

“What is she talking about?” my husband asks.

Reluctantly, I turn on “Ignition Remix,” and, without missing a beat, Minnow starts singing the words, like, perfectly. 

Sipping on Coke and rum,
I'm like so what I'm drunk...

“Do you play this song for her?” my husband asks.

“Not all the time,” I reply sheepishly.

That night, on our way home from dinner, my mother-in-law is sitting in the backseat with Minnow. 

“Car song, car song!” Minnow demands.

“What song does she want?” my mother-in-law inquires.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I lie, mentally willing my husband to drive faster toward home.

“Toot toot!  Beep beep, Mommy!” Minnow reminds me.

“Oh! That one.  The wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round, ‘round and ‘round” I improvise.

And that is probably the closest we’ve ever come to listening to kid-friendly music in the Jeep.

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