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‘Old Man River’ versus a ‘Younger Girl’

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POSTED June 8, 2009 12:35 a.m.
“Hotel California” was playing on the Escape’s CD stereo as I turned down Yosemite Avenue headed for Staples Sunday with my 16-year-old granddaughter Ashley riding shotgun.
I asked her if she knew the name of the song.
“That’s ‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles, papa,” came the reply.
I decided to test her music knowledge. Big mistake.
I selected another CD and clicked on “The Little Old lady from Pasadena” by the Beach Boys.
I told Ashley that one day the song would be about her.
She gave me that look that only a teen can give an adult. You know the one. It’s “what language are you talking in, Papa?”
Then she delivered the wake-up line.
“I don’t know all the old music papa, but I know some,” she said.
As a consolation after I told her the name and the artists she said she kind of thought they might have been a Beach Boys song.
Kind of thought? The Beach Boys are the standard for California summers.
Then it hit me. That standard is approaching 50 years.  ”Keep Your Skirts Down Mary Ann” by the Andrew Sisters was old music. “Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra was semi-old music. In Ashley’s world – anyone probably under 35 – the Beach Boys are old music. And when you get down into the teens, It probably qualifies as prehistoric music.
Ashley must have noticed the look on my face.
“That’s alright, papa, you probably don’t know my music,” she added.
True. Although she doesn’t listen to the “hard” stuff I generally view rap by calling it “rap crap.”
That may be unfair but to me it’s not music. I’m sure Ashley feels the same way about the theme song from “Hawaii Five-0.”
I would have discussed TV shows with her but I didn’t really want to date myself especially since people I mention to my age or older if they remember “ My Mother the Car” starring Jerry Van Dyke they look at me as if I’m talking in pig Latin.
Actually, if you consider the premise of “My Mother the Car” - Van Dyke’ character’s mom came back as a dilapidated 1928 Porter touring car he bought as a second family car – it redefined the word “lame.” The car – or I should say his mother – only talked to him. It made Kit seem believable. It was so bad that in 2009 it was voted as the worst TV show of all time on the O’Reilly Factor even topping “The Jerry Springier Show.” TV Guide in 2002 called it the second worst TV show of all time
I digress except for the fact I remember the lyrics:
Everybody knows in a second life, we all come back sooner or later.
As anything from a pussycat to a man eating alligator.
Well you all may think my story, is more fiction than its fact.
But believe it or not my mother dear decided she'd come back.

As a car ...
She's my very own guiding star.
A 1928 Porter.
That's my mother dear.
'Cause she helps me through everything I do
And I'm so glad she's near.

My Mother the Car.
My Mother the car.

I’m sure there are mental health professionals out there reading this who are probably preparing papers to have me committed.
One can only wonder one day what will make Ashley’s grandkids’ eyes roll when she shares an “oldie” with them, assuming, of course, they are still using quaint things such as I-pods, CD players and I-tunes.
I think it might be wise not to share  collection of Sinatra CDs with Ashley or my Big Band CDs, country music – I tend to like the classics all the way to Garth Brooks and George Strait – or things such as like “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry, “Younger Girl” by The Lovin’ Spoonful or “Strawberry Roam.”
If I do, she’ll probably think I’m older than dirt or at least as old as cassette players.
Cue up “Old Man River” lyrics, preferably song by Frank Sinatra and not Jim Croce.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, e-mail dwyatt@mantecabulleitn.com

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