Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mark It: The First Lynyrd Skynyrd Cover Of The Summer

It was the Robins Roundup tonight.

For those of you not familiar with this small town of about 2,000 residents, they throw a yearly event in the town’s lone city park where people bring their lawn chairs and gather around the shelter house to eat, play, listen to music, and watch fireworks.

My family is not residents of Robins, but our house borders its city limits. And since the fireworks would probably keep all of us from sleeping anyway, we hit their festivities on what was the first official day to my summer vacation.

"We've got a small boy up here who misses his mommy...Now here's some Skynard!"
It all started by noticing the event would be featuring Loose Neutral, a classic rock cover band from Marshalltown. The members all look to be in their middle ages, probably refugees from previous cover bands. They featured a female lead vocalist who took many of the tunes under her wing, even when female artists didn’t originally sing them. She held her own pretty good, providing some needed grit during “Highway To Hell” and she let the drummer handle all of the lost kid announcements in between songs.

It was a nice and free way to start of my holiday, as we prep the van and head down to Kansas City.

Queue the Beatles’ song.

So far, it’s been brilliant. I put in a nice day at work on Friday and turned on my “Out Of Office” assistant for the duration. When I come back, I’ll have a week left at my old gig before I start with a new department in the same company. This is the part where I lay on all of the frustration of my company and how shitty the compensation for my aforementioned effort is. But that would just be basking in the boring negativity of everyday existence, wouldn’t it.

Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, or whatever it was that Lennon said, and right now the plan is to visit Kansas City for a while. It’s about six hours from my home and it’s been over 30 years since I’ve been there. I don’t care for the Royals and as an old school Raiders fan-before they sold out Oakland and moved to L.A.-I am still plagued with the bitter rivalry of the Chiefs for me to give two shits about the city.

This is where it’s up to the city to change my perception. It worked for Omaha.

The drive home from work on Friday was flawless. I remained in the left lane all the way on the interstate home, speeding on cruise control, no less, all the way to my exit on the north edge of town. The thirty minute commute took only twenty as a result, hitting the breaks twice to avoid the speed cameras just before the Cedar River bridge.

I haven’t told the kids where we’re going, choosing instead to leave it a mystery, offering only one clue per day during dinner time when they ask. The first clue was “The state we’re going allows you to purchase fireworks legally.” If they only put their minds to it, they’d remember that it was only two years ago we visited St. Louis, stopping for fireworks on the way home just before hitting the Iowa border.

I suppose it doesn’t help that Wisconsin also allows you to buy fireworks too, and since we went to Milwaukee for holiday last year, it explains why they keep thinking we’re going back there.

But tonight’s clue, “This state was home to one of our U.S. Presidents,” still didn’t bring them closer to solving. That just made them think it was Illinois.

Today’s trip preparation also meant that I updated the kid’s playlist on my IPod. The kids are old enough that a lot of the previous songs are now too “childish” to play, Gone are the Laurie Berkner tunes, the Yo Gabba Gabba, and even the Hannah Montana.

These have all been replaced with Top 40 hits, which meant that I had to take a trip over to Billboard to figure out what the hell kids are listening to these days.

Here’s what I discovered.

1.)    Every hit song in America has to have someone “featured” on it.
2.)    Beyond the Top 20, everything is just country crossover hits. When I was growing up, these were the spots filled by bands like Icicle Works and General Public. Wha’ppen?
3.)    Once your song reaches the Top 40 in America, it stays there forever. Shit like Adele and that party rockin’ in the club tonight song are still getting airplay and still selling. It takes such an effort to reach the Top 40 in today’s age that’s like a long tail browbeating. And fuck me, that goddamn Kelly Clarkston song (“Stronger” #19 last week) had to start life in a shitty car commercial with that nobody Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel network, how sad is that?!
4.)    My kids know these songs, man. I struggle to comprehend how, but then it dawns on my that my wife lugs these little shits around all the time, pumping the local Top 40 station in between errands. My nine year old son heard me arranging the playlist and goes “I know that song!” Before two long, my five-year old daughter walks in and starting singing along as well. I’ve lost.

The playlist craps out after about two hours, which means that I’ll have plenty of time to embrace my own musical whims, forcing my kids to retreat to the dvd player and my wife to her Kindle.

Hey, I never got control of the music controls when I was a kid.

They’re lucky they have an old man that’s nice enough for a two hour playlist.

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