wherein my son starts to ponder the lyrics

This happened two days ago, but in honor of the Grammys, it seems appropriate to post it now. As far as Liam and I are concerned, Adele should win all the prizes. I would also like someone to explain to me why Chris Brown can be all “Mr. Comeback” on the Grammys despite his habit of beating women, but Ellen Degeneres is a “bad role model” and shouldn’t be a spokesperson for JCPenneys.

Liam and I are driving home from soccer. I spend most of my life here driving to or from soccer, it seems, and yes, there is more than a smidge of irony in the fact that I had to move to the Middle East to become a true soccer mom.

So we’re driving and Liam asks me to play his new favorite Adele song, “Set Fire to the Rain.” He loves the entire album but this track is his new favorite.

“What do you think that means,” I ask, “set fire to the rain?”  I’m clutching at conversational straws with him a bit these days because contrary to my hopes from last week, he’s not swerved from his insistence that by switching schools we’ve destroyed any possible shot he has at happiness.

So maybe he’ll talk to me about Adele and we can avoid the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has become his new way of ending the weekend.

“It’s like a paradox,” he says through a mouthful of cashews.

“Yes, but why? I mean, what’s she trying to say?”

Chewing sounds from the back seat. I persist. I wax nostalgic. “When I was your age, we had record albums. And they’d have the lyrics on them, maybe on the back, maybe on the inside sleeve, and we would read them and try to figure out what the songs meant.”

From the back seat: “What’s an album?”

I almost plow into the car ahead of me. “You’ve never seen a record?”

Long silence. “Um…in the movies, I think. Maybe.”

I explain the concept of “record album” to my child, although I leave out the part about how albums were incredibly useful when it came time to make those wacky cigarettes that mommy and her friends liked to share during intense debates about the meaning of this or that lyric on a Police album. (Hey. It was the early 80s. You want me maybe to be listening to Rush?)

We listen to Adele singing about her hands being strong but her knees being weak and Liam says “wait! pause it! I think I get it. She’s saying that she really loves him but he’s not very nice to her.” I push play and the song goes on to tell us about betrayal and anger and good-love-gone-bad. In the rearview mirror, I see Liam, listening intently.

“I see what she’s saying now — ” then there is what can only be described as a professorial pause. “It’s as Lady Gaga would say. It’s a bad romance.  Yep, that’s it. It’s Lady Gaga’s bad romance.”

My son has discovered intertextuality.  Maybe I should get him a record player.

me, Adele, and Lady Gaga are linking up with yeah write this week…I’ll bet there are some grammy-worthy posts up over there, so you should just sing along, click along, and come read!

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25 Responses to wherein my son starts to ponder the lyrics

  1. KSB February 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    I remember how Liam loved paper and books as a tiny baby, and about hearing how thunderous noise might not wake him up but the quiet rustling of paper would. Somehow, I think I saw this day of professorial pauses and intertextuality inevitably coming. Love that very special boy! 😀

  2. Lady Jennie February 14, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    I cannot fathom what you mean by making cigarettes from albums? I have never heard of this and we are, I think, the same age.

    Granted, I’ve always been a tad naive.

  3. Mayor Gia February 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    hah anyone who references lady gaga is a-ok in my eyes 😛

    • Deborah Quinn February 15, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

      funny, isn’t it? not sure how he found her, given that we don’t really listen to her in the house–she’s my “go exercise” music. Where do our kids pick up pop culture, I always wonder? Does it seep into their rooms when they’re sleeping?

  4. Ado February 14, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    I love this post.
    I can’t believe he said, “What’s an album?”
    I mean – he should’ve said, “What’s an album, you Paleolithic RELIC?” Jeez.
    Just waiting for the day when I slip like that and use an ‘antique’ word, like 8-track.
    PS: It’s funny you had to move to the ME to become a soccer mom! Ha!

    • Deborah Quinn February 15, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

      Relic. C’est moi. I had “Dead Set” — a live Dead concert — on 8-track. Somehow those two things really, really don’t go together. Of course, I also had REO Speedwagon. Can you say doddering old fool? sheesh.

  5. Stasha February 15, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    I still cannot picture you driving around. Great conversation, he cracks me up. I can just see you quoting Lday Gaga in your lectures at the University…

    • Deborah Quinn February 15, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

      Yeah, well, me driving? That’s a post of its own one of these days. And truth be told, I HAVE quoted Lady Gaga–or at least, I’ve made reference to the infamous meat dress. You know, gotta have the students think I’m “hip.” : )

  6. Runnermom-jen February 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Isn’t it awesome when they “get it”?
    Adele is one of our favorites around here too 🙂

    • Deborah Quinn February 15, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

      She’s fabulous, isn’t she? We have our own little karaoke on wheels when “rumor has it” comes on … it’s pretty funny (and loud). Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Katie February 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    I. Love. This. How astute and clever your son is! And a lover of Adele and Lady Gaga is obviously awesome.

    Great post!

    • Deborah Quinn February 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

      Oh yes, he is TOTALLY a genius : )
      But mostly he’s just not aware that pretty much all songs are about either bad romance or good romance. So in that regard, Lady Gaga could be the source of all songs! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Sarcasm Goddess February 15, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    “I would also like someone to explain to me why Chris Brown can be all “Mr. Comeback” on the Grammys despite his habit of beating women, but Ellen Degeneres is a “bad role model” and shouldn’t be a spokesperson for JCPenneys.”

    If someone does explain this to you, and you find the explanation to reasonable and acceptable, please pass it on to me. I have been bashing my head against a wall wondering the same thing.

    • Deborah Quinn February 15, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

      The only thing that anyone has said to me that makes any sense is “the grammys don’t like women.” And that’s as good an explanation as any. I guess homophobia trumps violence in the pantheon of “things that are bad.” Can YOU say messed-up priorities?

  9. my honest answer February 16, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    He is one smart kid!

  10. Alison@Mama Wants This February 16, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    My god woman, he’s so deep!

    Well, from my 35 year old perspective anyway, because I really don’t understand songs these days. Though I LOVE Adele.

    • Deborah Quinn February 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      Oh yes, he’s really deep…which is why he can be more aggravating than a herd of stampeding wildebeasts. I understand almost no music whatsoever, which is part of why I love Adele–SHE sings about stuff I recognize it!

  11. Janice February 16, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    My son and I have these type of philosophical yet oddly weird conversations, and particularly in the car. Why is that?

    Also, AMEN about Chris Brown. It’s a very interesting message we are sending, isn’t it?

    My son once spent a whole afternoon looking at 8-tracks because he thought they were so fascinating. He kept saying, “These are so WEIRD!” Kids these days.

    • Deborah Quinn February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Eight tracks ARE weird. So big and boxy. Like old computer floppy disks, don’t you think? remember how HUGE those used to be? And yet at the time, we thought we were soooo technologically advanced. I think the thing about a car is that you don’t actually have to LOOK at each other, so you can pretend to be aloof from the conversation…it’s always a good place to have serious conversations, I think. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Jackie February 16, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

    What a smart cookie, even if he is unaware of records. God help him if you whip out an a track!

    • Deborah Quinn February 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

      An EIGHT TRACK, I know! Talk about ancient times, right? But you know, I still miss cassette tapes. Say what you will, there is something much more meaningful in “I made you a mix tape” than “i downloaded a bunch of stuff for you.” It’s the labor intensiveness of the mix tape that counts, I think.

  13. Shannon from 'mynewfavoriteday' February 17, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    We are going to get along wonderfully well. I do remember albums, I love Adele, and thank goodness you little man can dumb that song down for me, because as I started reading the post I literally thought wouldn’t it be nice to have an album cover, what is this song about anyway? And then, all I need was a Gaga reference and I got it! Great post Deborah…loving that you are a full fledged SM USA style in the ME.

    • Deborah Quinn February 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm #

      thanks for stopping by…yes, were we ever in the same room (or even same hemisphere) it would be lovely to chat! until then, this. yeah–albums. am nostalgic about them – my collection went the way of all things in some move, long ago and far away. Sigh. Ah, youth…. : )

  14. Kimberly (Sperk*) February 17, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    The wonders of child developmet. We know it’s happening, but when we witness a milestone, it is amazing. I read this when you first posted the link on FB and it has lingered with me all week. Love music, watching my kids grow…therefore, love this post. Hope you have a great weekend.

    • Deborah Quinn February 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm #

      Thanks for the kind words! It is amazing when we see those little BLIP moments as our kids grow & change. It’s exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking and frequently (as in this instance) really, really funny. I was glad that I was at a stoplight when he said that about Lady Gaga b/c I was shaking with laughter.

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