Kirsten Rawlins: Love of music that unites us
Before she was born, my partner and I were struggling to agree on a name for our daughter.
It was brought up as a topic of conversation over an Easter dinner with my family, with both of us offering names which had been placed on the ‘maybe’ list – each of them getting mixed, not overly positive responses.
It is here that I should point out my partner’s surname is Cooper.
“What about Alice?” my dad piped up – mostly joking.
‘Alice Cooper’, we thought. That could work.
After all, not only do the two of us both have great grandmothers named Alice, but we are also both avid rock fans – and who doesn’t love a bit of Ol’ Black Eyes?
So it stuck. And it’s worked out well too, as while she may only be 14 months old, Alice is absolutely music mad already.
Offer her The Teletubbies or In The Night Garden and she’ll watch them in small bursts, in between playing with her toys and getting up to general baby mischief, but put on a music programme or musical – the more songs the better – and she’ll ardently stare at the screen, bopping, dancing, and ‘singing’ along.
Even her nursery can’t quite believe just how much she loves the stuff – even remarking that she looks like she’s headbanging when she moves along to songs.
And she’s around music constantly when she’s with us. We’re forever listening to music in the car, in the garden and in the house – and it’s almost always rock and metal.
When I was little, I too was surrounded by music thanks to my dad. And though I didn’t like all of it – instead favouring my sing-along Disney tapes – it has stuck with me all these years later.
Not only does this make my taste and knowledge in music varied and extensive, but allows me to see the roots from which my own generation’s music has grown too.
It has also given me something to have in common with my dad and we now spend a lot of time together attending gigs, which is absolutely invaluable. Even my mum, who up until a few years ago couldn’t bear the sound of heavy rock, has come around and family outings to all manner of concerts are a wonderfully regular occurrence.
In fact, this bond with my dad led to me naming my daughter Alice Cooper too – Alice was the first rock star I saw in concert once I’d developed a taste for music. Prior to that, as a tot, my parents took me to see Meatloaf and Jethro Tull – the latter of which I hated as a youngster. I adore them now and have actually had the pleasure of interviewing the tremendously talented Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson. Dad’s influence has even had an impact on my career.
“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.” That was said by American novelist Sarah Dessen – and how absolutely true it is.
I must add however that when I was a teenager it was always obvious which parent I was mad at by the type of music I would blast at full volume from my bedroom. Dad hated rap and mum hated metal – so I would tailor my taste to whomever I most wanted to annoy. Teenagers, ey?
But music is magical, it is food for the soul.
And for me, it is absolutely therapeutic.
Frustrated? Shout out the lyrics to some wildly upbeat or heavy song and the anger just washes away.
Sad? Sooth the despair with a soft, lulling folk number or move along to something fun and my mood improves no end.
There are artists that truly have the ability to touch my soul – and most of these are musicians to which my dad introduced me. Simon and Garfunkel is one example. Give me just one or two seconds of their dreamy harmonies and I’m transported to another dimension in which I simply float, using their beautiful voices to escape from reality.
So how could I not want to pass this phenomenal gift on to my daughter?
I have no intention of forcing rock down her throat or discouraging her from listening to other genres – I, for one, love reggae and ska and absolutely adore a huge range of non-rock artists, from Roy Obison to Erykah Badu.
But it would be incredible to be able to share the bond with her that I have with my parents.
And if she ends up deciding that she likes the best type of music of all, rock and metal, then all the better.