Four Decades Apart

This past weekend, amidst all sorts of projects on the go, a friend sent me a YouTube link to a recording artist I haven’t thought of in a few years.  In listening to live video of his past recordings, I was pleased to see that his songs had weathered well.   What was better yet was that the songs I loved listening to as a child weren’t dated as my 15-year-old son popped his head into my office with that grin of his that says he thinks I may have happened across a new artist he hadn’t heard of yet himself.

He flopped down into a chair, obviously amused at the thought that once upon a time his mother was a 10-year-old who listened to music on the radio and had favourite artists.  And then he said something unexpected, “I’ll bet not too many 10-year-olds were listening to him, were they, mom?” 

I wasn’t sure what he meant by that.  Was he insulting my taste in music all those years ago or was he making an observation based on a leap of faith?

“Excuse me?” I asked him, trying to discern which question he had just asked.

“Well,” he answered thoughtfully, “it makes me think.  At least now I know where I get my obscure music taste from. I mean, he couldn’t have been mainstream for a 10-year-old back in the day.”  He paused and then continued with his comments.  “What I’m saying here is that I don’t listen to mainstream music for the most part because that’s where the best music is hiding and so I must have gotten that from you because I just can’t see how this guy would be mainstream for you as a kid … you know, in the olden days when the Internet didn’t exist and you actually had to tune in a radio station instead of download songs from iTunes.”

Now, considering that Gilbert O’Sullivan was wildly popular in the UK beginning in the 1970s, I had to ask myself if there was some validity to Lewis’ views.  Was Gilbert O’Sullivan mainstream for pre-teens decades ago?  I really have no idea but I’d like to think he was based on his phenomenal career that spans from the 60s up to his most recent CD release “Gilbertville” just last month.

“You know, mom” Lewis offered up, “this O’Sullivan guy reminds me of Dr. Noise … you know, the guy that does Trock.”  Trock?  Oh yes, I remembered Lewis sharing Time Lord Rock as in Dr. Who inspired music — Trock — with me about 4 years ago.

“If you forgot mom, he’s the guy that’s 50.  So me liking music by a guy that’s 50 is probably like you being 10 years old and liking Gilbert O’Sullivan,” he added.

I chuckled.  Sometimes Lewis says things people aren’t sure how to take.  Let me assure you that Lewis isn’t your typical teen who, without any knowledge of the individual, makes a determination about that individual. 

That Dr. Noise is 50 years old is immaterial to him; he likes his music and he likes his lyrics.  That his mother was once a 10-year-old girl is logical but also a little weird (wasn’t it like that for all of us when we first thought of our parents as having been children once?). 

That his mother as a 10-year-old girl would have liked the music and lyrics of Gilbert O’Sullivan is only odd in his opinion because his opinion of pre-teens is that they don’t usually care about lyrics or depth or emotion.

I thought back to when Gilbert O’Sullivan came to America for the first time in 1972 and appeared on the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.   I remember thinking to myself that I was willing to watch the skits if it meant watching the one song he was scheduled to play played live.  It wasn’t about idol worship but rather about learning from someone who was already making his way in the music business … something I had decided was my career path when I was 28 months old (that’s another story for another blog entry at some later date).

After listening to a few more O’Sullivan songs on YouTube, Lewis offered more on his initial opinion.  “It’s not really rock’n’roll but it’s not snooze music either.”   He sat back a little more in the chair, crossed his arms over his chest and added, “It’s melodic.  Rhythmic.  Some of this is very danceable.”  Then he looked sideways at me, smiled that charming smile of his and winked.

“Even the ballads are beautiful enough to warrant being played in the background … if I had a girlfriend,” he teased.  And then reality snapped me back into place and I realized that it won’t be much longer before that boy has his eyes on some girl he’s met and the lyrics to “Matrimony” will come back to haunt me.

It won’t please our mums and dads
But they don’t even know,
Besides if they did what’s the bet
They wouldn’t even go.



2 Responses to “Four Decades Apart”

  1. Gary David Currie Says:

    Very cool story. I was the same way only my tastes were not like yours. I was listening to the beginings of psychedelic rock. I remember going to the record store and trying to find out what was unpopular. Aslo I did listen to the popular stuff as well. I remember waitng for the new years eve countdown on my a.m. radio and then recording it on my cassete player. We were poor just my mom and I. I can relate to Lewis. Got to admit I did rock out to Jackie Blue and Kung fu fighting. But still loved my obscure music.

    • Elyse Bruce Says:

      …. everybody was Kung Fu fighting ….

      Now there’s a song that shot out of nowhere. Thanks for mentioning it, Gary. Maybe I’ll have Lewis give it a listen.

      I still maintain that the best music is the music that isn’t written with the primary focus on being commercially viable. Music that focuses on being music is what makes music timeless. And if it just happens to also be commercially viable, that’s a major bonus. 😉

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