Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In

Paul McCartney

Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In

May 12, 2009
I don’t believe in children’s music—which doesn’t mean I don’t believe in children engaging with music, just that I don’t know why children should be subjected to music that not only talks down to them, is irritating to the adults around them. “They like it,” you’ll hear parents say by way of justifying this annoying genre (they like TV and junk food, too, if you give them enough of it) but trust me, children like any and ALL music, even—and especially—your music, if you give them the chance. I wouldn’t read them books I didn’t enjoy with illustrations I didn’t like either.

I can also tell you that their father and I brought two sons into functioning adulthood without any of that crap—and it’s something they’ve continually thanked us for.

Although Matt's the music professional, my most vivid early memories of my children and music have to do with his younger brother, Adam, probably because of the dark winter when Adam was two and had pneumonia, which meant long weeks inside with just mom and the stereo. He spent hours dancing to the Beatles in front of the speakers, identifying which side of the album he wanted to hear by pointing to the cut or whole apple illustrated on the label. Among his other favorites were Bob Marley's “I shot the sheriff but I didn’t shoot the dead tree” and Paul McCartney’s “Man on the Rug." I remember trying to tear him away from Elton John’s "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" when we were late for a doctor appointment, by promising that we’d listen to the radio in the car. He was screaming “Yellow Brick Road! Yellow Brick Road!” as I carried him out and once in the car, insisted on hearing it there. I tried to explain that the radio played what it wanted, not what we wanted, but lost all credibility when I turned it on to find it playing—of course—“Yellow Brick Road.”

This all comes to mind as I’ve recently been spending much delightful time with various friends’ toddlers, loving the way 1-4 year olds are so trustingly imitative while remaining true to their emerging personalities—a combination that’s often hilarious. Then this morning Cary Smith sent me the link to this video of Thom Yorke singing the Radiohead classic “Weird Fishes” with orchestra (wait for the sound to start)…

…after which I found this, and it cracks me up:

Don't skip over the song links to the music videos above, each one better than the next, ending with Elton John accompanied by Muppets, the Sesame Street album being a big exception to my rule—because I enjoyed it. Happy parents, I always think, make for happy children. And why not give them something that enriches not only their present, but future life?
September 14, 2007
Okay, so I don’t wear glasses. Although my whole family has worn them, I never have, except intermittently, when doctors tried to pressure me into it because of an astigmatism, or told me I was at that age. I can already hear my friends groaning, because they’ve heard this from me so many times before, but I believe that glasses are much more widely prescribed than necessary—yet another stupid industry that uses too much plastic—and if you’d just look up from your computer or book and focus afar every few minutes and do yoga eye exercises every day, you won't need reading glasses (I do the exercises before getting out of bed in the morning or, as readers know, when I inadvertently find myself in the same room with performance art). I’ve discovered, however, that this is waaay too much trouble for most people, the ones who are groaning right this minute, but I’m going to plunge ahead regardless. Sometimes, when tired or under a lot of stress, I might not see so well, maybe even for a week or two, but then it normalizes. Sometimes, early in the morning or late at night, things are fuzzy, so I just don’t bother to read, or I use a magnifying glass. But most of the time—with plenty of light—I can read the names in a phonebook or the ingredients on a vitamin bottle. And I’m doing very exacting work with painting right now (unless of course, I put on a pair of glasses and discover that I’ve been an expressionist all along). So because my friends won’t take it from me, I’ve asked Paul McCartney to do a little yoga eye exercise demo and put it on YouTube. Here it is:

To read: Jacob Lieberman, Take Off Your Glasses and See