Cedar: Can we listen to that jungle record?
(I remember giving him lessons on Drum & Bass and maybe even Dubstep, but I don’t think we touched Jungle. He must be talking about something else.)
Cedar: The one with the people and the jungle.
Dad: I don’t know what you are talking about.
Cedar: Where they sang in a different language.
Dad: Oh! Sergio Mendes & Brasil ‘66.
(I find the record and put it on)
(Cedar and Cora looked stunned. They listen intently for awhile)
Dad: The rhythm in this Brazilian music is kind of African. Listen the piano is keeping the rhythm.
Cedar: What are they saying?
Dad: I don’t know. They are singing in Portuguese. You can hear the word “samba”. That’s a kind of dance and song. (cora begins dancing) I think this song is about The Samba.
Dad: So you like this record?
Cedar: (he’s been listening quietly for awhile) Yes.
Dad: What do you like?
Cedar: The music and the talking.
Dad: It’s different then other kinds of music we have, isn’t it.
(track 3, The Joker is playing)
Cedar: This one has a part from Batman - The Joker. (laughs)
(a slower song in English starts)
Cedar: I don’t like this one. (He only likes the faster, Portuguese ones)
(switching to side 2, track 2 Agua de Beber)
Dad: So what does this music make you think of?
Cedar: I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t remember what music makes me think of.
Dad: You were listening pretty intently for awhile, you weren’t thinking of anything?
Dad: So you like the jungle on the cover?
Cedar: Yeah. Do they play their instruments in the jungle!?
Dad: No. They just took the photo in the jungle.
Cedar: What? I don’t see a camera.
Dad: A camera can’t take a picture of itself. (he looks confused)
Dad: Look here’s a picture of Cora. You don’t see the camera in the photo.
Cedar: Oh. Yeah. Why?
Dad: The camera can’t be in a photo it is taking. You’d need another camera.
(he looks skeptical.)
Dad: Let’s try this one. The band is called Superchunk and their record is called foolish.
(Cedar looks very, very skeptical)
Dad: The cover has a drawing of a woman and a dead rabbit is hanging behind her. On the back is a photo of a dog in a car.
Cedar: Why? (Cedar looks as if he thinks this is the dumbest record cover he’s seen yet)
(I put on the record and 3 seconds into song 1…)
Cedar: Hate it. Hate the starting.
Dad: (laughing) Wait, there’s more. Just listen.
(We listen to side 1 and Cedar has become absorbed in playing with his cars)
Dad: So what do think. Not too bad huh?
Cedar: It’s too bad for me.
Dad: What? Why?
Cedar: It’s too boring?
Dad: What, not rockin’ enough?
Cedar: Yeah, not rockin’ enough.
Dad: What about the cover?
Cedar: *pppbbbpppt* (tongue waggling intensely)
Dad: What don’t you like?
Cedar: All the blue (pointed at her dress) and hair. It’s messy.
Dad: (turning over the record) and this side?
(he smiles and gives a thumbs up sign)
Dad: You like this side though? Why?
Cedar: It’s blurry.
Dad: Let’s try this record. Look it’s like a book. On the inside are the songs and the words. And when you fold it out and turn it over, you can see a whole guy! His socks are glowing too.
Cedar: Cool! (laughing)
(he puts the record on.)
Cedar: Wait, who is this?
Dad: This isn’t punk rock. It’s called soul music. Kind of like dance music.
Cedar: Wait, but WHO is it?
Dad: His name is Michael Jackson and…
Cedar: Michael Jackson!
Dad: What you know him?
Dad: Wait, how?
Cedar: From the video where he dances with the zombies.
Dad: Oh, right. Should have guessed that.
(after dancing around for awhile)
Cedar: He sings like the same way as with the zombies. The drums are the same too!
Dad: Yes, kind of. But this was before the Thriller album. When he was younger.
(a full-on dance mayhem takes place for the first couple of songs)
(we get to track 3, Working Day and Night)
Cedar: Cora, listen. (he switches to 45rpm) It’s Alvin and Chipmunks!
(we proceed to listen to the remainder of the first side at chipmunk speed as Cedar and Cora pretend to fall backwards on the bed, laughing hysterically)
Dad: Okay, so what did you think of this album?
Cedar: It makes me think of dancing.
Dad: Do you dance to punk rock music also?
Dad: Is this different?
Cedar: Yes, it’s not punk rock. It has trumpets.
Dad: What about the cover?
Cedar: It was cool.
Dad: What did you like?
Cedar: The fold up man.
Dad: Look at his socks.
Cedar: How do they light up?
Dad: I don’t know.
Cedar: Weird. You look at the words and then you turn it over and there’s Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson for the skies!
Dad: What does Michael Jackson for the skies mean? Did you say “for the skies” or “in disguise”?
Cedar: For the skies.
Dad: What does that mean?
Cedar: I don’t know. Does this record go in the Os?
Dad: No. Michael starts with a “M” and Jackson starts with a “J”
Cedar: Why did you tell me who it was!?
Cedar: Why did you tell me it was Michael Jackson? I wanted to guess! And this is ONLY record that opens up!
Dad: Um, sorry and this isn’t the only record that opens up.
Dad: There are more. Why don’t you look for more records that open up.
Cedar: How you do you know?
Dad: These are my records.
Cedar: Look when it’s open like this it makes a bridge.
Dad: Sure does.
Cedar: Can we play a little record?
(Cedar gets out a yellow and black plastic 45rpm singles carrying case that I believe was my father’s in high school. It was my introduction to music as a small child, as I got to choose my own records to play on my Fisher Price record player when I was 4 or 5.)
Cedar: How about this one? (picking the record on top of the stack)
Dad: Sure, let’s see, Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats And Dogs by The Rovers. Hm. Okay.
(I help him insert the 45rpm adapter.)
Dad: I have no idea where this came from. 1980? Must have picked this up at a thrift store.
(Cedar takes multiple attempts to get the needle on the smaller record size. When it’s on he plays a bit at changing the speeds from 45 to 33rpm and laughing. Then he sits on the bed and listens to the song. He gets very still and listens to the entire song without moving.)
Dad: (when it’s over) did you like that? (expecting that he probably didn’t)
Dad: Really? What did you like?
Cedar: I don’t know!
Dad: Did you understand what they were singing about?
Cedar: No! I just liked the music…and the way they sang.
Dad: Oh. Cool.
(Well at least it was something other then early 90’s Bay-area punk pop. I was starting to think that was about all he’d like.)
Cedar: What’s the band what has the lady in it?
Dad: (naturally I know whom he must be referring to) The Pretenders?
Dad: Okay, here’s their first record. Go ahead and put it on.
(track 1, Precious starts. Cedar sits on the bed and frowns)
Dad: What’s wrong? I thought you liked this.
Cedar: Louder is better.
(obviously not loud enough)
Dad: Oh, sorry. Let me turn it up.
Cedar: That’s how it’s supposed to be.
(we listen for awhile)
Dad: So what do you think of this song?
Dad: What do you like about it?
Cedar: I don’t know.
Dad: What do you think of the record cover?
Cedar: I don’t know! It’s kind of plain. (he waves his hand gesturing around the cover art) It’s not punk rock.
Dad: It’s not?
Cedar: It’s not colored right.
Dad: What do you mean it’s not colored right?
Cedar: I don’t know. They could have colored it more, like punk rock, I don’t know. But they didn’t. The Police looks punk rock. The Clash looks punk rock. Mr. T Experience looks punk rock.
Dad: So if they colored it differently, it would look punk rock?
Cedar: Yeah like blue or greenish.
(jumps up and starts painting in the air with his hands)
Cedar: Like black, then bluish, then green with white…then brownish. (smiles and nods)
That would be punk rock…or just blue…like the Mr. T Experience. Can we listen to the Mr. T Experience?
Dad: (sigh) Yes buddy.
Cedar: I’m going to pick out a punk one.
Cedar: Are the As good?
Dad: You’ll probably find a good one.
Cedar: How about the Ds?
Cedar: I don’t know where the As or Ds or Ps are?
Dad: Look at the first letter on the album and you’ll know where you are.
Cedar: ahh (laughing). I found Jawbreaker. Jawbreaker is good. I know where the J ones are because I can find Jawbreaker.
Cedar: There are too many records! I can’t find ones that are good. When are you going to help me?
(lengthy, over complicated explanation of my record organizing system. really didn’t need to go there)
Cedar: I can’t find one that looks punk rock.
Dad: Just pick one! We can listen and if you don’t like it we can turn it off.
(he spends 5 minutes flipping through records, going back and forth, unable to decide)
Cedar: (hm) Cool! This one has lines on it.
Dad: Let’s see…TransAm. Oh this is a good record. You might like it. Mommy doesn’t like it.
Cedar: (intrigued) Mommy doesn’t like it?
(I put the record on. Half way throughtrack 1, Ballbados he says, “look daddy” and is shaking his head around and smiling. I think he likes it.)
Dad: This band doesn’t have singing in it. Just music.
Dad: They just rock out. No singing. Daddy saw them play in a warehouse party once with Arlo’s Daddy. It was a junky warehouse that artists were living in. We were right up front and got to see them playing.
(I start imitating various band members, matching the music in the song. Cedar’s eyes are wide and he is laughing)
Cedar: Were they really loud playing the cymbals? (he starts some ferocious air drumming)
Cedar: That sound there.
Cedar: I think that is a key-board what’s a guitar.
Cedar: A key-board what’s on a guitar and you can switch from key-board to guitar.
Dad: So, what do you think of this record?
Cedar: Good! Why don’t we one day, when Mommy’s down here, we trick her. We’ll tell her were going to put the Clash on and we put this on.
Dad: That’s not very nice if she doesn’t like it.
Cedar: We could just do it one day. It would be so funny.
Dad: So do you remember what the name of this band is?
Dad: TransAm. TransAm is a car. You actually have some Matchbox cars that are TransAms. Like little race cars.
Cedar: Some of your old trucks are broken.
Dad: Yes, I know. What does the music make you think of?
Cedar: Squeaking carts. Squeaking loud carts. (starts making loud squeaks)
Dad: What do you think of the record cover?
Cedar: It’s cool. The middle part makes me think that sound is coming out of it and it is yellling (starts making a high-pitched squeaking noise) No, it’s like this (he starts making a “raspberry” sound) It’s like a fart. (all things end up with fart sounds with him)
Dad: (trying to ignore his scatological urges) So it’s like sound coming out?
Cedar: Sound to that side and sound to that side. Going to your two ears.
(at this point we’re joined by Cedar’s 2-year-old sister Cora)
Dad: Cora do you like this music?
(they both start jumping around on my bed. that’s when Cedar noticed the smell coming from Cora’s exploding diaper)
Something smells poopy. —
Dad: Hey Cedar, pick out a new album to listen to.
Cedar: I want to listen to The Clash.
(we’d listen to Combat Rock 24/7 if I let him)
Dad: We can listen to The Clash, but let’s try a new record first. We have thousands of records and we only listen to the same 3 all the time.
Cedar: I want a punk rock record. (grunts!) But I don’t know which ones are punk rock!
Dad: Just pick one and we’ll listen and see what you think.
Cedar: (pulling out Jawbreaker’s 1991 Bivouac album) How about this one?
Dad: I think you will like it. Let’s try it out.
(he seems skeptical. then the music starts and he goes wild)
Cedar: YES! Punk rock!
(he starts jumping on my bed)
Cedar: Dad watch!
(he jumps as high as he can, yells “punk rock”, and does a full body slam, face down on the mattress, giggling like a fiend)
(later…after listening to most of the album he decides to study the album artwork)
Cedar: (giggling more) That’s funny!
Dad: What’s funny about the cover on this album? (curious what he is going to say)
(he points to the tuft of hair on the rabbit’s chin)
Cedar: Why do they call it an “album”?
Dad: An album is a collection of things - songs, photos - stuff like that. You think the artwork for this album is funny because of the hair on it’s chin?
Cedar: Yeah. It’s a bunny head with hair on it’s chin. And it has no skin! That’s funny!
Cedar: And kinda weird.
Dad: Yeah, I guess so.
It’s a bunny head with hair on it’s chin. And it has no skin! That’s funny! —
Cedar Joaquin Muñoz
4-year-old, music critic
Cedar: YES! This is the Police record I like.
Dad: I liked this Police album a lot when I was little.
Cedar: How old were you?
Dad: Let me see. Probably around 11 or 12.
(Cedar makes a screwed up face as if the concept of me as a child is crazy sounding)
(track 1, Don’t Stand So Close To Me kicks in)
Cedar: Yeah! (starts rocking out) This is awesome!
(I sing along with a bit of the chorus and Cedar laughs)
Cedar: Why do they say to her, “Don’t stand so close to me?”
Dad: Um. (trying to figure out what to say as I remember the music video with the band in academic garb trying to thwart the flirty advances of an underaged student)
Cedar: Probably because she was stinky.
Dad: Yeah. You are probably right.
(later…Driven to Tears starts playing)
Dad: Listen, you can hear the drums. Cymbals and his kick drum. Now the bass joins in.
Cedar: (listening) What’s making that sound?
Dad: That’s a guitar. And the “dum-dum-dum” sound is the bass.
Cedar: What is a “bass”?
Dad: It’s like a guitar with less strings and it makes the low sounds that keep the rhythm.
(I start air-bass playing much to his delight)
Cedar: Wait. I heard a “bass” in another song…it was in another song with a bass.
Dad: Probably. It’s in a lot of songs.
Cedar: No, I heard the bass before.
(he’s thinking really, really hard for a few minutes)
Cedar: Stevie Wonder! He had a bass in his song.
Dad: You are right.
Cedar: Stevie Wonder has a lot of bass.