Full disclosure – at almost no point in my life did I listen to music that was currently popular. Outside of a few exceptions like MC Hammer when I was 6 and the Foo Fighters in my late teens/early twenties, the majority of the music I listen has always been at least 20 years old at the time. And while driving around in high school with a cassette of Cat Stevens in my truck might not have been “cool”, it was preparing me for how to listen to music like a dad.
Somewhere between Yacht Rock and Hard Rock lies Dad Rock. Easy listening enough to be kid friendly, yet rock enough to let you hang on to the illusion that there is still a cool factor to it. I assume there are some dads out there who listen to their music of choice regardless of if their kids are in the car or not. I suspect these are the same dads who place letters in the end of the alphabet in their kid’s names. Jaxon’s dad listens to Ozzy in the car. Landyn’s dad listens to Vampire Weekend. Blaze’s dad listens to Post Malone. For the rest of us there is Dad Rock, and at the heart of the genre lies Bruce Springsteen.
In the last two or so years I’ve listened to more Springsteen than I had in my life. Sure, I’ve always appreciated the hits, but never before had I heard “Rosalita” and had the impulse to turn up the volume. I never used to hear “Glory Days” and actually feel nostalgic. I once heard somebody refer to Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind” as music dad listens to in the car when he’s sad. Clearly that person never heard “The River.”
I feel like Bruce himself has even become Dad Rock personified. When he was young he was cool. Some might even say sexy. Oh, the times he had. Don’t get me wrong, he looks good for man his age. But then again, he’s a man his age. And sure, he’s still out there touring but you can tell he ain’t what he used to be. He puts out some new stuff but it doesn’t compare to the old stuff. His music is not rebellious rock and roll any more. It’s safe. It’s reliable. It’s dad.
At some point I’ll expose my kids to a wider range of music, but not until the foundation is laid. Hopefully if they grow up listening to classics when they hear what’s new they’ll think “What is this crap? Put on some Phil Collins!”
And I know when they get older they will discover music on their own, some of it good and some of it Taylor Swift, but I feel like I can’t let that happen on my watch. So I’ll turn up “Spirit in the Night” and I’ll be sad to “My Hometown” if it means keeping my kids a way from trash like Drake or Billie Eilish, or, god forbid, talk radio.