The music stops, but the lyrics remain …

“Mum, when we next get app store time can I buy some songs?”

He knows the answer will come in the form of a question.

“What is the song ?”

He answers with the song title, and “Oh, actually there’s two songs.”
He knows there are more questions to come – maybe I’m the genetic source of his inquiring mind.
He preempts my next question- “There’s no swearing in it, that I know of. “

“What is it about ?”
“I’m not sure.”
“What do you like about it?”
“The tune …”
“Are there any dodgy words in it?”
He’s not sure. He knows I’m going to check it out.
“It can’t be bad” he says “I’ve heard it at ….”
“Hmm ok. I’ll check it out and I’ll let you know if I’m all good with it.”

I do my research. I look the lyrics up, and to be honest I’m not all good with them.
The man is with me as I have a patented r-Anne-t about the lyrics and the underlying message/s. He is a patient one I’ll give him that. I read the words out – and I really don’t want to hear these words or the attitudes contained therein coming from the lips of this boy of mine.
We all know the power of words, we know they can heal and they can destroy, they can plant seeds of thoughts which can germinate and grow, they can produce good, healthy fruit or they can produce choking weeds and painful thorns.
Words in the form of music can be some of the most effective. I became acutely aware of this when he was about four years of age. We were driving home from school one day, I had music playing in the car. I was probably not always terribly selective with what I listened to. Amy Winehouse was singing about rehab… from the back seat she was joined for the chorus – in perfect pitch … “No, no, no”
I think from that point on I realised one of the things I needed to be more responsible for as a parent was for what he heard, and what he saw me being ok with listening to. He wondered why we weren’t listening to that song anymore. “It’s not really a song that’s suitable for kids” was all I came up with then.

Looking at iTunes top 10 songs this morning – I see one from the 50 shades of grey soundtrack, three more songs contain explicit lyrics. Then the two he requested are in the top 10… I don’t really want to hear him singing them – which he will, because he picks up words and tunes in a flash. I really don’t want to hear him singing any of the following lines….

“Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty…
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Called a police and a fireman
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire, man
I’m too hot (hot damn) (hot damn)
Bitch, say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot (hot damn)”

I don’t want my boy thinking that to be a man he needs to strut, and be so filled with love of self and self love that there’s no room left for anyone else. I really don’t want him thinking that bitch is an appropriate term, especially not when it comes to speaking of, or to, someone with affection.
I hope that these songs are in some way being ironic, I fear that they aren’t. I hope that they are full of social commentary about how self absorbed, and superficial we all are … I don’t think they are. I think they are just what they are – empty, unabashed, self promotion.

Some of them are about others – but what are they saying about others? His second song request left me a little unimpressed when I looked it up.

When I need motivation
My one solution is my queen
‘Cause she’ stay strong yeah yeah
She is always in my corner
Right there when I want her
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone
And they say
Do you need me
Do you think I’m pretty
Do I make you feel like cheating.
And I’m like no, not really ’cause

Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

She walks like a model
She grants my wishes like a genie in a bottle yeah yeah
‘Cause I’m the wizard of love

And I got the magic wand
All these other girls are tempting
But I’m empty when you’re gone
And they say
Do you need me
Do you think I’m pretty
Do I make you feel like cheating.
And I’m like no, not really cause’

Oh I think that I found myself a cheerleader
She is always right there when I need her

I think you get the idea. The title and subject matter suggest that it’s about the “girl” but I think, perhaps on closer inspection, it might just be, reading between the lines, mostly about the “boy”.
Nothing about what he does for her other than turning all the other tempting girls down – good of him (!) and then perhaps the reference to “the magic wand” he has – let’s not go there!

I don’t want him to think that women are designed to be either a temptation or an accessory. That all a woman wants is attention from a man/boy. That all a woman needs from a man/boy is for him to let her know that her value comes from being there whenever he needs her, from being his “cheerleader”.
But maybe I’ve misunderstood – maybe it’s meant to be a romantic song …

She gives me love and affection
Baby did I mention, you’re the only girl for me
No I don’t need a next one
Mama loves you too, she thinks I made the right selection
Now all that’s left to do
Is just for me to pop the question

…or maybe it’s a proposal for the lucky lady!

I’d love to hear a song or two that celebrates the idea that God designed Eve to be more to Adam than a genie in a bottle, more than just a companion. Try finding a song that tells him that women were designed to be an ezer kenegdo (try typing that one and not losing it as spell check changes it to “ever kneed” over and over again!!)
Here’s a couple of spots that give some more encouraging/interesting descriptions than “helpmeet”

http://www.insightforgirls.com/an-irreplaceable-role-as-an-ezer-kenegdo/
http://www.godswordtowomen.org/ezerkenegdo.htm

Is part of my issue, that this kind of popular music does nothing for me?
Is it that the writer/english teacher in me objects to the lazy song writing, the simple themes and concepts, and the minimalist approach to vocabulary?
I’m trying to think it through.
Or is it, as I hope, that the content worries me?
Am I going to, as parents have done before, decide the best way to combat these ideas is to cut him off from all outside influences?
Well, no, I don’t think that’s wise for him – every fortnight he’s in another home with different rules, different beliefs and different standards. I believe that cutting him off here, sets him up for failure elsewhere. I remain unconvinced that it is a wise approach for anyone.
What I have seen is that children who have been raised to talk through things and make wise decisions are far less likely to leave behind them a wake of destruction and heartache, than those who’ve had all decisions made for them and all of the “worldly influences” cut off.
So I try to talk about things with him when we can.
I don’t want to cut him off from everything.
I want him to think things through.
I want him to ask questions, to think about ideas, and beliefs. Maybe it’s the critical thinker in me, the English teacher who wants him to see behind words, underneath them, to dissect them, and analyse them.


When he came back the other night to hear my verdict on his song requests we had a conversation.
“Sorry my boy I looked it up – I’m not keen on these songs … sorry. I get that the tunes are catchy and that everyone is listening to them. It’s the words and ideas in them that worry me. Have you listened to the words in these songs?”
“No” I could see that he was disappointed, but he took it on board.
“Would you feel comfortable walking around singing “Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty” ?”
He laughed “No”
“What kind of man would?”
He doesn’t answer this one. Maybe because he knows someone who does, and doesn’t want to voice an opinion and I’m ok with that. But I do want to be having these “what kind of man” discussions with him.

I want him to consider the kind of man he wants to be and grow in that direction as best he can.
I want to be doing everything I can to help him move in wise directions – to make wise decisions.
And while it seems like nothing – what he listens to and what he sees now helps to form the “kind of man” he will become.

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One Response to The music stops, but the lyrics remain …

  1. Leonie Bray says:

    It is not easy being the tough one, by this I mean the one who really cares. Keep strong and they will respect you for it as they get older.

    Like

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