by Road Zimmerman | The Minor
A new compilation by the now-famous Anderson twins, who are most known for their work with the scat scene revival among gay men in Minneapolis, “Songs Your Dad Played on the Way to Middle School” is exactly what it sounds like: a comprehensive collection of remastered songs your father played when driving you to middle school every morning. The Anderson twins have said that they hope the compilation “shows the struggle of listening to your father’s music each morning, hoping desperately that he would play something involving ambient noise.”
Track #1) “Rich Girl” by Hall & Oates
One of the many top-40 trash songs that your father loved, “Rich Girl,” by Hall and Oates, leads off this compilation. Your dad would sing along to it, laughing, and looking at you lovingly as he asked you to sing along too. Sometimes, if the day was warm enough, he’d roll down the windows and you could almost see the young man he used to be–the young man you would be in a few years. Disgusting. This track is a perfect salvo to a group of songs that are nothing but the dreck your father enjoyed.
Track #2) “Call Me” by Blondie
Repetitive drivel, “Call Me,” by Blondie, may be one of the worst songs and best examples of selling out that the ’80s saw. Seemingly harmless, the song is an anti-feminist rant, and it reeks of poorly chosen subject matter and trying too hard. Your dad would play it and tell you stories about going to a Blondie show, desperately trying to relate to you, knowing how much you had started to enjoy music. He’d talk about how he used to go to a lot of shows, how he saw James Taylor in a small room around Chapel Hill. How he remembered taking your mom to a concert. Your dad was a poor man, completely unaware of his horrible taste in music. He would go on to tell you that no matter what mistakes you made in life, he’d always support you and love you, and that he knew middle school can be hard on young boys who are too mature. Dad was an idiot.
Track #3) “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits
The title track of Dire Straits’ Grammy award-winning album, “Brothers in Arms” was written by lead man Mark Knopfler, a facile excuse for a musician. “Brothers in Arms” saw Knopfler lauded for his unique work with the guitar, an instrument that has been phased out of most current relevant music. This song stands as a testament to unoriginal garbage in an age of unoriginal garbage. Your dad said that he bought it at 25, just as he was becoming an actual adult, or maybe just realizing he was an adult. He said that he didn’t really know how to talk to you anymore, and that he felt like you were moving farther and farther away from him. He said that he just wanted to understand you. Then he said that, if you would rather, he could just turn the music up and not talk about it. He had no idea how much you didn’t want him to turn the music up, not music with such a painful lack of experimentalism. He just kind of went silent and looked off in the distance. He muttered that he was trying his best. A classic driving to middle school song.
Track #4) “Summer Teeth” by Wilco
The most current release of the compilation, “Summer Teeth” has an infectious pop beat your dad called, “one of the best songs he [had] heard in years.” Maybe he just wasn’t listening hard enough to hear what shit this is. Led by dad legend Jeff Tweedy, Wilco is a band your father said was something that he felt like both kids and adults could enjoy, completely unaware of how stupid he sounded. This song is a perfect fit for the compilation: a forced attempt at relation to youth passing a withering generation. Your dad said he hoped that you could be happy, and that songs like this could mean something powerful while still being joyful. He said that you didn’t have to be upset constantly, that not all art comes from contempt, cynicism and hatred. Your dad was a poor lost soul. As you stepped out of the car toward your middle school, he waved hopefully and smiled. You turned away and looked down at the ground.
Track #5) “These Days” by Jackson Browne
Your dad put on this song and said that he just wanted to talk. He told you about how Jackson Browne wrote it when he was young, just a little bit older than you were then. How the song talks about love and loneliness and everything that you were feeling. He asked you to please listen. You just turned away; you wouldn’t look him in the eyes. He began to cry, and he said that he just wanted to make things easier for you. That he would love you forever–that he would do anything to understand what you were experiencing. You stayed silent. The song continued playing. You watched your father cry for the first time. You made your father cry. What a bad song.
Road Zimmerman hosts the “Is This Music? Hour: Wider Sounds” on WXYC from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Thursdays and is an avid reader of Cellar Door.