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Magic Power

Recently I heard a song on the car radio that I had forgotten even existed. However, I could immediately sing along with its every word.

She's young now, she's wild now, she wants to be free;
She gets the magic power of the music from me...

Ah, yes. The Canadian power trio Triumph accurately captured me in lyric form back in 1983. I was 16 and graduating from high school. I had a great boyfriend, a regular D&D group, attention-getting hair, a library card, and a functional stereo. I had my whole life in front of me. What more did I need? Life was good.

Fast forward 24 years to the other day. Even as I belted out "Magic Power" along with Rik Emmet, I laughed at the incongruity I have become: a 40-year-old woman driving a mom-style vehicle complete with two car seats in the back, with XM Radio's Big Tracks channel blasting so loud that people in other cars look over at us involuntarily at stoplights. Am I now ridiculous? I wonder.

Only my mother terms me 'young' anymore, and this knitting, pie-baking, classics-loving, church-going woman I've become is not anyone's definition of 'wild.' And would I want to be free of my hot spouse, my fun kids, or my weed-infested garden? Not on your life. On the surface, I've become the epitome of The Establishment against which rockers have been railing for decades.

Yet loud rock music continues to be a joyful indulgence of mine on a daily basis, Sabbaths excepted. My kids love singing along to songs they've learned at my knee; it warms my heart to hear their clear voices joining in on "Sweet Home Alabama" or "Baba O'Riley" or "Roxanne." Rock is somewhat of a family affair; we had a great time exploring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a couple of weeks ago, admiring relics like John Lennon's report card, the pieces of Paul Simonon's smashed bass guitar, and Jim Morrison's Cub Scout uniform.

My love affair with rock is not limited to the music of my (or my parents') youth. Through friends and the sorcery that is iTunes, I've discovered new treasures like Foo Fighters, The Fratellis, and Coldplay. But would The Veronicas or The Arctic Monkeys be happy to witness me, someone old enough to be their mother, dancing around my kitchen to their latest hits? Or would they run, screaming in terror? I rather suspect the latter.

Here's a highlight from my trip to Utah last week. I sat reading in my hotel room after attending the first day of a mission conference. Suddenly I heard music I recognized coming in through the large plate glass windows that overlooked downtown Salt Lake City's Gallivan Square. I opened the drapes to see a huge crowd gathered around the amphitheater ten floors below. I quickly did a web search on 'Utah Free Concerts,' which confirmed that I wasn't dreaming: Calexico was playing. I opened the metal window louvers so that I could hear well, ordered some Room Service nachos, and sat back in my private sky box seat to listen to one of my favorite new(-er) bands. I reveled in my good fortune, and couldn't wait to tell my kids that the group was even better live than on recordings.

Will it always be this way? I have a vision of myself as a 90-year-old great-grandma, driving a powder-blue Lincoln Town Car with the bench seat scooted way up, and The Raconteurs or Great Big Sea roaring through the sound system at a decibel level high enough to compensate for my faulty hearing aids. And maybe then, if Triumph comes on the radio again, I'll let my quavery, old-lady soprano soar along to celebrate that I am young at heart, wild about life, and free from any concern of what others think about my long-standing affection for the magic power of rock and roll.

Reader Comments (13)

rock on, sister

August 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdeb

I finished reading your post with a big grin on my face--"By Jove, I think she's got it!" And although my sound system blasts music that is a generation older than yours is, and I also get those looks from people at stop lights, I am delighted to find in you what seems to have been passed down through the genes. Your grandmother did much the same.

August 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterluisaj

Triumph AND Great Big Sea! Some great Canadian bands in this one.

August 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterbubandpie

The best part of being that 90-year old rockaholic great-grandma will be all the life moments lived in the process of Getting There. You'll enjoy every note then even as you do now, and that's how it orta be.

And if the bands can't deal with parental-age fans well, just yell something toward a stranger's kid and pretend he/she's one of yours. Better yet, bring your own.

That's *my* plan.

August 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRadioactive Jam

I love it!

I get those looks at stoplights too. :)

August 30, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

excellent! I long ago gave up worrying about whether people looked at me weird when I was singing in the car, whether it was rock and roll or some musical. my favorite was when, driving down the express way, I looked over and the guy next to me was clearly rapping - using big hand motions and everything - all alone in his car. I grinned, and turned up my own radio. Rock on.

August 31, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterpainted maypole

What a great post! I have often thought of how different I am from the kid that went to high school some years ago wearing Doc Martens and a Chili Peper t-shirt. WOW!

August 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterNH Knitting Mama

What make are your hearing aids and do you cover them with your hair?

August 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Great to have you back, and great pic of the family! Christian is so tall now!

Great post! I love what makes you YOU.

August 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

YES! Love the image of you as ninety year old! Rock out babe!

August 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Wright

I'll be right by your side, dancing in the streets! In fact, music is one of the ways I motivate myself to cook, clean house, do just about anything other than read and write. And I rock out to a lot of folks who probably wouldn't want to know I'm a fan, too. And I'm closing in on having a decade on you, lol! (I just turned 48).

August 31, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Great post. It is wonderful to maintain that young spirit and appreciation for what one day will be really old music. I would sing, but my kids would moan at my tuneless sounds.

September 4, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdawn

I love it! I also love rock music and a lot of the newer stuff -- Yellowcard, Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin, ColdPlay, Name Taken. Good stuff.

But I also wonder whether they'd be happy or frightened to find out that I love their music.

September 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

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