I sat down to write this post 2 hours ago, but ended up making an epic playlist instead. I call it DANCE FUN HAPPINESS…which is redundant, of course. I have no dance-related playlists that aren’t fun or happy (for example, there’s no “BALLET BARRE WITH EXTENDED FRAPPE SECTION” or “POLKA PRACTICE FOR PORTLY PEOPLE”) but I am so excited to finally be back in touch with music as a source of fun that I am owning every bit of that redundancy.
Let me explain.
One of the stranger things that happened when we first met The Cherubs was that music immediately became a battleground. I did not see this coming, although I should have, given that I arrived to pick them up for our second visit with nothing but Upbeat Christian Hits on my iPod. I know, I know…but in my defense: We’d loaded all those Upbeat Christian Hits back when Princess Peach was living with us. She came loaded with her own “playlist,” so to speak, and we found it a bit disconcerting to hear a three-year-old belt out how no man was ready to handle what she was bringing to the party. So we found some equally upbeat songs with a more wholesome vibe, and that just became the soundtrack for the car from that point on.
Fast forward two years. I was on my way to pick up the Cherubs, whom I had met exactly twice. We had not discussed music. I had not been listening to music. I’d been frantically reading books about how to adopt, and then driving in silence, thinking through all the things.
So that lovely day, I picked them up and headed out into heavy traffic to meet Steve at his office. They were SO FURIOUS that they had to go with me that they took the blankets we kept in the back seat and pulled them over their heads. I turned on music without thinking about it, really. And a few minutes later, they emerged, and told me what they thought.
I was shocked that #2 Cherub would be so straightforward in her disparagement. But I was also like, Why did nobody tell me to plan for music to play in the car??? (Tip for future adoptive parents: plan music to play in the car!) After much frantic scrolling and what could charitably be called unkind commentary, we settled on the Jacksons’ Shake Your Body Down To The Ground. (It was on a playlist I made as a joke while trying to recreate the soundtrack from the Jane Fonda Workout.) That song is seven minutes and fifty-seven seconds long, and we listened to it, on repeat, for one hour and twenty-two minutes. I don’t think any of us have been able to listen to it since.
Then we tried the radio, and yikes, that was a mess.
Is it just me, or is it SUPER UNCOMFORTABLE to listen to blatantly explicit lyrics with kids??? I mean that with any kids. But especially mine, now that I’m responsible for helping them form a worldview about relationships and human interaction.
(And before you pelt me with advice about how I could use those lyrics as a springboard for a wonderful teaching/getting-to-know-you moment, let me invite YOU to introduce yourself to a pair of random middle schoolers, take them for a long ride in heavy traffic, and then use the lyrics from Sexy Back to kick off a conversation.)
That summer, we found our way a bit. We listened to a lot of Toby Mac, and some dance music from the 80s & 90s. But then that ran its course and music became just another thing we threw overboard along with enjoyable family meals and shared television programming.
But that was then. The Cherubs are both teens now, so explicit lyrics have them spinning the dial long before I even notice (a rare win for teenage awkwardness). And between going to the gym and physical therapy, I’m reminded how music can raise or lower my mood. Moves Like Jagger should only be played when people are forced to do mountain climbers with furniture slides under their feet. And Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald shouldn’t be played anywhere, ever.
But when I’d come home and try to find music I liked for everyday life, I was blank. I couldn’t think of anything that had ever made me happy or got me moving.
Today I opened up my phone and discovered Justin Timberlake’s remake of the all-time, all-purpose best dance song: September. Seriously, how good is a song that gets multiple generations out on the floor when no one even knows the words???? “Do you REMEMBER…[something, something, something] SEPTEMBER…[something, something, something] DECEMBER… [blah blah] chasing the clouds away…” And off we all go, moving and singing made up words and filled with the joy of being alive.
(At least that’s how it is for me. If that’s not your experience, please don’t let me know, okay?)
Suddenly, my heart was ringing…in the key that my soul was singing… because this remake was for a kids’ movie and so Justin & Anna Kendrick articulate the lyrics really clearly (although even they have no idea what’s going on in the the chorus). And so instead of writing a blog post, I’m in the middle of a RENAISSANCE, just like THIS (only in my heart and with no black wigs):
From there I expanded to Ain’t No Stoppin Us Now, Fantastic Voyage, and Livin’ La Vida Loca (which is actually hard to dance too unless you’re REALLY willing to commit…) I added about a dozen others, then finished it off with some controversial choices – Madonna’s Ray of Light and JLo’s Let’s Get Loud – and my eclectic mix of DANCE FUN HAPPINESS was complete. And now I’m smiling more than I have in a long time, listening with unabashed delight.
Until the Cherubs get home. Then I’ll pretend I’ve been working diligently at my laptop all. day. long ;)