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Saturday, June 14, 2003

On the Road—Postscript

I would be remiss if I closed out my road diaries without acknowledging my son Jonathan—my trusty shotgun rider, relief driver, and most importantly, disc jockey. Like most young people, Jon has one of those zippered binder CD holders that’s about as thick as five Sears catalogues. It was right under his feet throughout the entire trip. I revealed my out-of-it-ness by asking how he could afford so many CDs.

The dismissive reply was predictable: “Dad, nobody buys CDs anymore. Haven’t you heard of file-sharing and downloading?”

“Of course I have. I just haven’t spent any time thinking about it. I thought it was illegal or something.”

A shake of the young head and rolling of the eyes. End of conversation.

Happily, that was the only sour note. The lad’s collection was a revelation as well as another arena of filial bonding. It included the complete discography of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, and Credence Clearwater Revival, plus many of my favorites from The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits, and others. The father’s heart was gladdened by the son’s appreciation of formative rock and roll.

I’ve referred in earlier posts to the absence of a current generation gap in comparison to anything like the way it was in the Sixties. I’m sure that anyone of my generation will nod in recognition when I say that, when we were young, the notion of parent and child enjoying the same pop groups would have been about as likely as the two of them sharing a joint or hit of acid.

In addition, Jon introduced me to some really cool present-day stuff—e.g., Beck. Beck is well known, of course, and I’ve certainly heard of him. I even have a single of his on a Hank Williams tribute album. But I’ve never listened to his wider work. Like many deserving contemporary artists, he gets scant airplay in today’s corporatized, homogenized radio universe. Oldsters like me are thus left in the dark. How true it is that having kids helps keep you young!

Another introduction from Jon’s collection that I particularly enjoyed was Portishead. There were others—very hip DJ mixes, for example, about which I was completely ignorant. But the hipness and the intoxicating beats were a pleasant counterpoint to the many hours of highway boredom.

What really blew me away was when Jon whipped out both his Miles Davis collection and The Modern Jazz Quartet. I had no idea his eclecticism had expanded to this level! There’s nothing like the feeling of parental pride. I never proselytized my kids about my musical tastes. Jon came to Miles and MJQ on his own, and I was duly impressed.

So kudos to Jonathan. He made a long trip eminently enjoyable. Now, maybe he can show me how to get some of those free CDs. I won’t go to jail, will I?

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