Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sometimes It Pays To Listen To Your Kids

Unlike two of their three children, my parents are staunch conservatives who voted for Bush in both 2000 and 2004 and who resolutely maintain that this was not such a bad move given the alternatives (that loser Gore and that god-awful Kerry, respectively). They are also, like many in their generation, big fans of Bruce Springsteen, so I wasn't surprised when they told me they'd be forgoing this year's traditional Memorial Day weekend at the beach because they had tickets to his concert. And because I think it's good for them to broaden their horizons, I didn't mention that The Boss has grown decidedly more anti-war and anti-Bush of late.

I just talked to my mom, who called to chat before she left for the concert. As we were getting off the phone we had this little conversation:

Me: Well, have fun at the concert.

Mom: Hey, who's Pete Seeger? (this seemed like a non sequitur to me, but we're talking about a woman who once responded to my query of "are we out of beer?" with "we're in the kitchen. . .come on in," so I usually just roll with it.)

Me: He's a folk singer. Why?

Mom: The concert is a Pete Seeger tribute concert.

Me: (uncontrollable laughter)

Mom: What? Why are you laughing?

Me: He sings protest songs, Mom. Militant political protest songs. Remember that Christmas you bought Brian (my militant left-winger of a little brother) the entire Pete Seeger collection?

Mom: Uh-oh.

Me: (still lauging) I'm sure ya'll will have lots of fun. You know Bruce Springsteen hates the president, right?

Mom: (laughing a bit herself now) Stop laughing. Dad said he didn't know what the concert was about when he bought the tickets. He tried to pawn them off on Laura (my sister) and Brian, but they didn't want them. (Laura, no doubt, because she has other plans and Brian because he shares my view that John Mellencamp, not Bruce Springsteen, is the true musical spokesman for America's working class.)

Me: Okay, well have a great time, Mom.

Mom: (unconvincingly) I'm sure it will be fine.

Me: (more laughter)

Mom: I'll call you tomorrow to tell you just how not-fine it was.

So my parents have paid good money (lots of money, I bet) to see Bruce Springsteen sing the protest songs of a movement they actively avoided in their youth and to listen to him criticitize their president.

I think it actually probably will be fine. My brother and I once caught my Dad humming along to a Joan Baez (protest) song. "You like Joan Baez?," we demanded incredulously. "I like her music, but not her politics," my dad replied. My brother and I looked at each other quizzically and then launched into a joint lecture about how her music is her politics, how art is frequently political, and how you can't divorce art from politics. My dad listened politely and finally said, "I just think she has a pretty voice." We shook our heads in exasperation, but it's this attitude that will carry my parents through tonight's Bruce Springsteen concert. They may disagree with the lyrics (okay, they'll definitely disagree with the lyrics), but they'll enjoy the singing and the actual music. And they will certainly never admit it, but I bet they'll even agree with a thing or two The Boss has to say about the mess our current president is making of the world. After all, my parents are not retarded. They just sometimes vote that way.

Update 05.29.06: My mom's review of the concert: "It was totally awesome! I'm going to buy the CD today!" (at Wal-Mart, probably, which will cause poor Pete Seeger to roll over in his grave.)


Brian said...

Viva la Resistance!

I struggle with the thought of "The Boss" taking over Seeger songs. It's like when Dylan wanted the Guthrie songs that went to Billy Bragg - what the hell do either one of them know about what Seeger and Guthrie were trying to say?

(You know Joanie (Baez) is sitting in a tree out in California to help protest yet another bank foreclosure on yet another small-time farm.

Where's Dylan?

Oh, that's right, he never cared about the politics of folk music. He just liked the way it sounded. Kind of like, "I just think she has a pretty voice")

Brian said...

I feel an anti Dylan/Boss post coming on (on my new, highly classified blog) pertaining to politics in art and people not acknowledging it.

Megan said...

Um, Billy Bragg sort of kicks some fascist ass. He's a long-time militant British folk rocker. I could hear you on Wilco, but Billy Bragg was a good choice.

And I think The Boss has come a long way from "Pink Cadillac." Plus he has a really cute ass on the cover of that "Born in the USA" record.

And what the HELL is the point of having a top-secret blog that no one gets to read?

Brian said...

No, no. I meant what do Dylan and Springsteen know about what Guthrie and Seeger were trying to do.

Puppies are cute.

Brian said...

And the point, of course, of the top-secret-ness of the blog, is obviously to not have to deal with people whining and complaining about hurting their precious feelings over some silly little nothing-ness of certain subject matter.

And, you know, it's on the internet. It's not like people aren't able to find it, and a lot of people have already.

Brian said...

Just not people that have spent too much time in sensitivity training classes!

Megan said...

I come by my sensitivity naturally. . .no training necessary.

And I've played WIFFLEball with you. There's no fucking way you could play major league baseball (to return to our argument that got me banned from your blog). Puppies are cute, but not as cute as you trying to hit a ball.

Brian said...

Anyone with two arms can play baseball. It's for pansies.

Megan said...


vikkitikkitavi said...

Um, I see the comments have strayed off in another direction, but I was just going to say the Mellencamp hates the president, too.

Megan said...

I'm surprised there are people out there who DON'T hate the president.

Anonymous said...

pete seger isn't dead...he undoubtably WOULD roll over in his grave about the wal*mart purchase if he were...but he's not