pop music and the teenage soul


this thing keeps happening as my 13 year old daughter listens to pop music.  it takes me by surprise.  maybe it’s the scientific algorithms or maybe not.

mazzy will play another teen anthem about taking life and love by storm and somewhere a few bars in – i have to stop myself from weeping.

mind you, these are not stellar songs, but there i am shutting my mouth and blinking hard.

the bold, unwavering declarations of pop music’s inner life heard through the ears of teenager – or the ears of 40 year old mother who remembers what it was like to belt out those songs – it’s a powerful thing.

my girl

and i forgot.

or maybe i never knew.

there is a fierceness in youth.  there is a belief in one’s self that is devastating in its naiveté.

and it’s so beautiful.

the passionate, furious emotion of the teenage soul.

i forgot.

you are sweet to me

here’s how it goes:

start a really popular anthem and cue mom singing along with child.  we’re hitting the chorus now – don’t cry! don’t cry! – and look over at my girl.  my girls.  my girls and my boy.

they sing along, too and for them, it’s no big deal.

there is no welling admiration for blind free will in their hearts.  that’s only in me.  they sing as the world flies by the car window.  somewhere inside the countdown of days to when they get to drive has begun.

they listen to the music that anticipates the launch.

and it is valiant.

3 replies on “ pop music and the teenage soul ”
  1. The teen soul… To live untouched by the responsibilities and harsh realities of adulthood… I think… Yes… I want to live there too.

  2. As songs of youth took root in the souls of my boys, becoming a soundtrack for their lives, I felt my job was to fill the air with good music they’d either glam onto, reject out-of-hand, or put on the shelf for a later listen. (Yeah…that was a long sentence, but it works) My (now) two grown sons have such differing, eclectic taste in music. Knowing of the fierceness you eloquently wrote of, I knew it was futile to try and put the brakes on rap and hip-hop. As a musician, I found that particular genre’ to (for the most part) was devoid of any real musical talent, Driven with the same duh, duh ,duh, duh, duh du, duh, duh, duh duh beat, marinated in misogynist “lyrics”…well, I just didn’t get it and didn’t want to.

    Fast forward to the present as a new grandfather, I can look back with a sense of accomplishment. With all the failings of my parenting, by grace, I didn’t eff up the jams.

    Loved your piece. It’s one of the most powerful writing you ever produced. Maybe because you wrote through the prism of Mazzy and your memory, I don’t really know. It’s just powerful. You accomplished what every decent writer aspires to…show, don’t tell. Consequently, I found myself head-banging right along in the silence of an early fall morning, at my desk, ignoring Third Day wafting through the bedroom. Instead, one anthemic lyric rose from the ashes of cynicism and age to shout above the grind of step-parenting, “MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS, WE WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN!”

    It took a divine intervention by God to prevent getting up to throw in a few Pete Townsend windmill air power chords. Maybe that wasn’t God, only the enemy.

    Thanks for the killer writing Zena. You rock hard.

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