The Songs Of The Parents Shall Be Visited Upon The Children

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"The songs of the parents shall be visited upon the children..." Isn’t there a Bible verse that goes something like that?

Ah, the soundtrack of my youth. Not the songs I chose to blast in the car as a teenager when I got my license, not even the Annie LP I played over and over in my pink and green bedroom when I was seven. No, I’m talking way back—the songs that my parents chose for me when I was too little even to pop in an eight-track.

My musical memories are a montage of Olivia Newton John and the original cast album of Hair, with a little Roger Whittaker thrown in. Those are what I remember hearing as my mom and dad drove my brothers and me around in our camper, called a Chinook. (We were neither campers nor Native American, yet this was the family vehicle.)

When I hear any of those songs, I am immediately transported to my childhood, cosseted by their folksy notes. I always believed my parents lovingly curated these tunes for us kids... until one shocking day last summer. As a new mother, I was suddenly conscious that the music we were playing would reach my kid’s ears and sink into his psyche, so I asked my father how he and my mother chose our musical repertoire.

He informed me that they found these eight-tracks by the side of the road on the way home from church one Sunday morning. That’s it. There you have it.

And just like that, all my notions of my childhood soundtracks being conscientiously selected by my parents were dashed. Hilariously, at least. I mean, let’s be honest: the mash up of ONJ, Hair, and Roger Whittaker is ridiculous enough. It’s only fitting that this musical selection was a product of dumpster diving, but without the dumpster. No one wants to get his church clothes all smelly.

What did your parents offer you/inflict upon you musically when you were wee? And why? Have you ever asked them how they curated (or scavenged for) the songs of your childhood? Please do—and share your stories with us!