No, Really: DO Stop Believin’
Last night, I went to my younger son’s 4th-grade concert and enjoyed the usual cute little elementary school ditties one tends to hear at these things and a couple of mercifully short recorder recitals. (How did this instrument, the recorder, gain such a prominent hold on the schools of America? They were using these when I was a kid too! Do any musicians actually play these, like in an orchestra? I suppose it’s supposed to be a “gateway” instrument to bigger and better things, but still.)
So there we were, as the concert wound down, and suddenly — okay, in reality, it wasn’t so “suddenly,” because I had an inkling that this song was coming, since my son had been singing it around the house in preparation for the concert — but yes, suddenly, because I’d nearly forgotten about it, trying to blot out the reality of it, they started in on the final song: “Don’t Stop Believin’,” by Journey. Seriously. If I didn’t think their music teacher was doing an otherwise admirable job engaging the kids in their music class, I would have called for her immediate dismissal right then and there. I mean, Journey? What’s next, Styx? I’d rather hear a 10-minute rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” on recorder. I can’t recall now, because I didn’t think to listen for it at the time, but I have to believe that she didn’t have them sing the part that goes “A singer in a smokey room/A smell of wine and cheap perfume/For a smile they can share the night/It goes on and on and on and on.” Now that might have raised a ruckus from even the most lame-’80s-band-friendly parents in the house.
Not to take it too seriously, but it’s kind of sad that the music teacher couldn’t have come up with something more valid in terms of musical value — I suppose the fact that she wasn’t even born yet when the song came out might make it not as embarrassing a choice for her, the way that I can find some enjoyment in a song like “I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family because I was very young when it came out. But why not take it as an opportunity to teach the kids something about quality music? Say, “Anarchy in the U.K.”? Or something by Captain Beefheart? Okay, I jest (not because I don’t think those would be awesome to hear in a grade-school setting, but because realistically I know it would never, ever happen). But at least something by the Beatles, as a little education for those kids who might live in households where the parents listen to nothing but crap or — in some cases, I’m sure — nothing at all.
Ahh, well. Hopefully the kids haven’t come to the conclusion that Journey is one of the great groups in the rock pantheon — with any luck, they aren’t even aware that the song was “by” anyone, and they’re just thinking of it as another elementary school song to be forgotten by next year. Although it does unfortunately pop up on TV a lot in various spots, so I may be kidding myself entirely — they probably all knew the song pretty well already. The best I guess I can do is keep playing the good stuff here for our boys — education begins at home, after all.