I’ve started listening to music on the radio recently (over the last few months), and it’s been a new experience for me. As I wrote here, growing up I only listened to Jewish Music. Even when I started listening to non-Jewish music in my early twenties, it was mostly older songs. Recognizing the music I hear from too-loud car stereos, in stores, or even what was played during the 4th of July fireworks show is a strange new experience.
I mostly listen to country music, which I discovered that I liked way back when I was dating my wife and would put the radio on during the long drive from my house to hers. While there are a fair number of songs about pickup trucks (which I don’t own) and beer (which I don’t like), many songs are about family and living life. I identify with a lot of these songs in a way I never did with pasukim put to music.
For instance, there’s this song about a guy who takes his daughter fishing and talks about how he’s building memories with her. I often think about how my kids will remember their childhoods, and me, when they’re adults. Songs like this speak to me.
There’s this one, about a guy who works hard to support his family.
And this one, about a guy who’s applying for a job so he can take care of his kids.
There are songs about being a parent, like this one about a woman dealing with her daughters being typical teenagers, and which makes me think about what my two daughters will be like in a few years.
And songs about missing family who have passed away, like this one about a guy who misses his grandfather and wishes he could take his family on a day trip to Heaven so his kids could meet their great-grandfather.
There are also the raunchy songs my high-school rabbeim polemicized against, like this one, which is actually rather clever.
And this one, which of all songs is the one that my four-year-old daughter leant most of the lyrics to.
There are songs about small-town American culture, or at least the idealized version of it, which are remarkably similar to aspects of idealized frum culture. Like this song about a guy who goes out of his way to buy American to support ”his” people, just as many frum people will shop at frum businesses to help support their owners.
There are songs about 9/11 which are far better than the single sappy song I can think of that came out of the frum music industry.
There’s this one, which has a triumphant ring.
And then there’s this one, which can break your heart. My oldest is four, about the same age the girl in the song would have been in 2001. I heard it on the radio once, and I can’t bring myself to listen to it again. I’m not an overly sentimental guy, but anything to do with kids always gets to me. Especially now, when I have kids of my own. This song made me cry, something that no repetitive Hebrew song has ever done, however beautiful its melody may have been.