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It’s all, like, about the birthday mix

Middle Child was all, “But it’s MY birthday mix and I want MY music,” and I’m all, “But every year I make you a mix for your birthday and I pick the music thinking you’ll like most of it, at least some of it, but thinking about you when I make the birthday mix,” and she’s all, “Well, yeah, some of it is good but some of it is, like, really, really weird,” and I’m all, “Well, yeah, some of the music I like some people think is really, really weird but it’s all good, right?”

And she’s all, “I wouldn’t say it’s ALL good,” and I’m like, “Yeah, it’s all good.”

She’s all, “You asked me for songs I liked but then you’re going to put songs on my mix that you like?,” and I’m all, “Yeah. Songs I like. It’s part of the deal. This year you actually get to pick some that you actually want on your mix but you also get songs I think will get you to listen to other things,” and she’s all, “But I only like to listen to the music I like,” but I’m all, “Well, I’m like the guy who’s making you the mix so I get to make the rules,” and she’s all not like, not liking that at all.

I’m all, like, “You still love ‘Fish Heads’ (a classic electropop novelty song from the Dr. Demento days) even though I put that on a mix YEARS ago,” and she’s all, “But that was on EC’s (Eldest Child) mix and I never get cool songs like that.”

I know, right?

In years past, those mixes had been confined to the length of a CD — 23 songs (or thereabouts) — but we’re now an all iPod family (MC and EC are all lightning fast thumbs and bowed heads) and that allows a mix of any length. Since MC’s birthday is the first since Santa dude (and dudette) delivered the Christmas iPod touch (a pun on so many levels), the traditional birthday mix is limited only by imagination.

And my kids know that, with no undue trepidation, my imagination is nearly boundless when it comes to music. Letting MC know that my intention is to take her 11 selections and counter them my own response (in evil, sinister, “Do your chores or no TV” dad mode), she’s all letting me know that, sometimes, my imagination is not entirely appreciated.

So she’s all, “Here’s my list,” thrusting a crumpled piece of lined notebook paper at me, her choices written in red crayon, as I’m all scoping out NBA scores on the ESPN site.

Her list is like, all tween tuneage, Nick and Disney channel stuff, I’m thinking, but I’m like surprised. Not everything is a bowl of Sugar Bombs that will soon be rinsed and sent down the disposal. In fact, there are some indications of EC’s influence — and my own. Despite the red crayon and Big Time Rush choices, there’s a hint that MC has made the ‘W’ in ‘tween’ a lower case character.

Indeed, her first choice is “I Gots a Weasel,” by Ween. Well played, MC, I’m thinking, start it off with a purely defensive move in a ploy to throw the old man a curve ball, especially with her knowledge that Daddy loves him some Ween.

To be fair, MC had heard the song on Daddy’s pod during a road trip and called for several encores. It’s Ween at their Frank Zappa-ish ala The Residents surrealistic best and a fine preparation for a sanity anchor should she ever discover hallucinogens.

Ever the chess master, I counter with more Ween, “Roses Are Free,” a bit more weirdness.

Her next choice is Maroon 5’s version of “The Way You Look Tonight.” Although I’d considered any number of vocal versions (obviously Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday), I countered with the Coleman Hawkins instrumental version. It’s my bet that in the decades to come, Hawkins will overtake Maroon 5 on her pod.

LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” was no surprise since it’s a song that she’s been crazy about since last fall. I confess I like it as well, which helps since it seems I can’t go anywhere without hearing it. Nevertheless, unable to leave well enough alone, my own electro-dance selection was “Freak Out/Starry Eyes” by LCD Soundsystem. A little more down tempo from LMFAO’s massive hit, it still has the same dance floor appeal.

“Meet Me Halfway” by the Black Eyed Peas was her next choice. Not my favorite BEP song (but certainly not a bad choice) so my follow up was my favorite, not-politically-correct side: “Let’s Get Retarded.”

Because, sometimes we’re all, “Let’s get (R-word) in here,” when we’re “Apt to lose this inhibition.”

It was EC’s influence on the next choice — Flobots’ “Airplane Mode” — since big sister has been a recent devotee of the band (she blew everyone away with her rendition of “Handlebars” during last week’s Middle School talent show, thankyouverymuch) and there’s been a huge amount of bleed-over from pod-to-pod.

Daddy doesn’t need to flex his rap props, and he didn’t need to follow up Flobots with anything remotely hip-hop-ish. Instead, I stuck with rap, bustin’ it REAL old skool: Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.”

And I’m all, Evil Dad, had that followed up with Radiohead’s “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” just because I can.

Getting like, all tween on me, MC asked for the Big Time Rush version of The Beatles’s “We Can Work It Out.”

My head ached at the prospect of hearing those twinks massacre a pop classic. For those of you not familiar with BTR, they’re a “band” with a show on Nick , each episode featuring them “performing” a tune at some point. Kind of like a modern day version of The Monkees but without the benefit of Don Kirshner producing or Neil Diamond or Carole King and Jerry Goffin writing the songs.

Fortunately, the side was nowhere to be found. Yes, I can be an implacable curmudgeon but I will, within reason, go the distance, no matter how distasteful, to appease my children. Yet, it wasn’t on iTunes nor Pirate Bay (my favorite torrent site) nor even BTR’s official site (I shudder to think I was about to throw those bums a bone or two).

Relieved, I was nonetheless prepared to offer a concession and I found that with the Glee cast’s version of “Hello, Goodbye.”

Guess what — it isn’t half bad, really. The vocals are a little over the top but the production and playing is completely in the spirit of George Martin and the Fab Four. I’m almost never a fan of Beatles covers (I’ll give exception to Richie Havens’ “Here Comes the Sun,” and Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Got to Get You Into My Life”) but I have to hand it to the Glee folks and say they made an incredibly catchy tune no less catchy.

(It also didn’t hurt that MC has recently become a Glee maniac, and has asked for the show’s first season on DVD as part of her birthday booty).

Of course, Dad had to include the real McCoy’s, so MC got the original version of “We Can Work It Out” on her mix and, I have to believe, she won’t be disappointed.

More Maroon 5 followed, “Sunday Morning,” more forgettable pap. For good measure, I countered with the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” (M5 had the good sense NOT to cover VU) as well as “Sunday” by Yuck (that last one being a somewhat subtle jab — we’ll see if she gets it).

MC went with more tween tunes, Hot Chelle Rae’s “I Like It That,” the sort of song that used to occupy a slot in the days of AM Top-40 radio and then, weeks later, would occupy a few grooves on a Ronco “Today’s Smash Hits” compilation hawked during a Flintstones’ rerun.

Reaching way back, I included my own “I Like It Like That,” by Chris Kenner. All the way to the year of my birth. That long ago.

Entering into the final rounds, both of us a bit punch drunk at that point and grabbing for the ropes, it seemed wise to go two-for-two before going to the judges. Thus, “I Won’t Apologize” (indeed) by Selena Gomez and the Scene and “Every Time You Lie” by Demi Lovato was answered by “Liar, Liar” by the Castaways and “My Babe” by Little Walter. One-two punches and a little rope-a-dope before the bell.

A final jab of tween torture, MC finished with “Take a Hint” by Victoria Justice and Elizabeth Gillies (more Nick TV show stars).

Her Foreman to my Ali was ineffectual as our Rumble in the Jungle ground down to the count. Not only did I follow up with Carla Thomas’ “A Woman’s Love,” but finished with The Boss, “We Take Care of Our Own,” from Springsteen’s excellent “Wrecking Ball” album (the subject of a review in my next column).

The 11th-year mix is done. Not only did Dad get his way, but he wrote about it, mixing metaphors with insouciance (chess, boxing, tweenspeak, etc.), while handing out some great music but also getting some good music in return.

I’m all, “Well, here you go, happy birthday,” and she’s like, all thumbs a-pumping and head-bowed. No doubt deleting the stuff she doesn’t like but, hopefully, from time to time, hitting the replay button.

The latter wouldn’t surprise me. Middle Child is all, like, like me to that degree.

jim@pagosasun.com

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