Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Stills

Lets all breathe a collective sigh of relief, shall we? Grading is over! All that remains is submitting the results on-line. I like to put a couple days between finishing and submitting - just so any residule anger, disappointment, or euphoria will not challenge my original findings. But, this post is not about grading.

Robin mentioned something about unpaid advertising. I sensed it was almost a bad thing. Robin, if you held no judgement about it, I apologize. BUT, that bit of conflict had me thinking...

(Not a great segue...I've had better days)

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way I listen to music. Eric has some of the boytoys aquired prior to our meeting still hooked up. What a shame - I don't think he foresaw the dramatic electronic revolution on the horizon. The speakers serve as plant stands. The Sony 5 CD player rarely gets used. I usually make a Hallowe'en CD of spooky music and pipe it out to create the right mood for the trick-or-treaters. That is the last time I recall using it. We used to have a Sony dual tape deck, but we didn't even take it out of the box when we moved here almost 3 years ago. Kids and tapes are a real bad idea, incidentally. Think TP-ing but with your favorite recording all over the livingroom.

I suppose if you thought about my relationship to music based on this paragraph, you'd conclude that things came to a halt right about the last time I attended Lollapalooza in '94. It could very well have stopped there. I'd say my interest in music went on hiatus. Without Cable TV and alternative radio, I could be a thirty-year old housewife with a taste for retro. Actually, I think I'd live in a musical vacume. Most of my pre-mom and wife stuff has disappeared, and they might have been replaced with The Best of Barney and Disney's Greatest.

The internet has given me back that opportunity to self identify with music. It is so much easier folks! Now I don't have to slog through 90% of the music that radio stations think I ought to like. My method of discovery: I google "best albums 2004" and just surf out all the lists. I don't care whose list, any list will do. I find a band that has an interesting name, or choose one that happens to make more than one "Best of" list, check out their website, sample what they have to offer and then use my P2P program and see what I can come up with. With that being said, I think I owe some free publicity to those gracing my online playlist. For allowing me to regain my sense of musical adventure, I'll give all the free advertizing one would be willing to listen to.

One day last summer I found a Montreal based band "The Stills" on a couple best of 2003 lists. They had their entire first album on-line. Genius! I listened and I liked. This was at the same time my 4 year old developed a keen interest in music and the internet. Instead of letting him listen to the Best of Barney, I made him his own playlists - some fun stuff - Bob Marley, ELO, Cheap Trick, The Pixies...Harry grew very attached to The Stills, and figured out how to surf to their website and played the song Fevered over and over and over and over again. For a couple of months he would attend to this obsession while his mother gladly supported it, and even thought it was the coolest thing since he first learned how to google search.

Lets just back up here and insert a bit of tangential bragging. Keep in mind that Harry just turned 4 years old last summer. He mastered effective and basic oral communication the year before and quickly understood that learning your ABC's will allow you to search anything you want on Google. My husdand and I are often wide-eyed in astonishment when we inventory the skills he quickly mastered to use the computer. This clearly demonstrates that the Vygotskian Pedagogical theory trumps Piaget

So, one day this fall, Eric was away and I was spending a routine evening with the kids. Harry came and sat on my knee as I was idylly surfing the net. He asked me to see the Stills. I obliged. Then he said "I want to talk to the Stills mommy". Lightbulb moment. I surfed my way over the the "Contacts" link and told Harry we were going to talk to the Stills by sending them an E-mail. He was psyched.

Subject: 4 year old fan


I am Harry's mother, and since he can neither type nor spell I
offered to help. But, he loves the Stills and wanted to say


(mom: Whats your favorite song?)

Harry: Fevered. I like to say Hi to the Stills...
Mom: You just did. Want to say anything else?
Harry: Yeah
Mom: What do you want to say?
Harry: I love the Stills
Mom: Are you all done?
Harry: yup
Mom: Do you want to say bye?
Harry: Bye! See you in the song! Bye! And say I love you.

I don't know how else to convey that this was an authentic

Thanks for your time

Heather, mom to Harry

And that was that. Harry and I had our fun, and some PR guy reading the fanmail would get a snigger that someone out there on glue had the nerve to pose as a 4 year old to get some attention.

Three days later, I see a message from "The Stills" in my inbox. For a minute I thought that it was one those automatic replies. You know, a "We love all the attention, but don't have time to attend to all the peasants in musicland". Oh was better - much, much better:

Hey Heather,

That's really cool. Tell Harry that we are happy that he likes the
stills and when he is older we would love to meet him. Here is a
picture you can show him of me!

thanks for writing very cool and unusual e-mail!

How cool is that folks? Now there is a letter to tape into his baby book. And the picture, was one of the Stills basist Oliver Crowe. Harry was thrilled. Mom was more. Come on, this is a defining moment in motherhood...encouraging your child that much closer into the realm of cooldom.
Harry has moved on to other interests, such as pointing to a logo and asking "Is that a corporation?" (which really sounds like "is that a corponation"). But every so often he'll find and I will hear Fevered over and over and over again.


Famility said...

I'm with you. I never, ever use CDs anymore--not that I ever did use them very much. (I'm more of a book on tape/NPR kind of guy). I gladly pay the $12.95 a month for Rhapsody. Now I listen to music that I had abandoned years ago--stuff from ELO to Zevon to Floyd to Neil Young to Dire Straits.

Incidentally, I have saved to LPs from my youth: Abbey Road and the Monty Python 3-sided album.

Famility said...

Make that "two" LPs from my youth.

Robin said...

It was actually intended exactly as you've expressed it here: totally positive. I love yahoo's jukebox because you can choose the artists you like, and based on your selections, it plays music it thinks you might like (not sure what algorithm it's based on though--sometimes I totally hate the stuff it thinks I might like).
There's a semi-new concept called the long tail that explains the phenomenon you're talking about, and I think the trend is only just beginning because, as you say, the kids these days (heh) are so technologically savvy.
I also think it's cool that the web facilitates this kind of direct connection...but I'm gonna shut up now (can you tell I love this topic? heh)

Kim said...

I love that story about Harry. And, Robin Diane's comment reminds me of something the editor from my writers' conference said this weekend. He mentioned that his boss thinks that books as we know them will no longer exist because the lines between books and movies and internet and TV are already starting to blur. Sure, there will always be room for the printed page, but e-books (real ones with ebook readers) will gain in popularity...and it's all because of these techno-savvy kids.