Having kids changes everything -- your sleep-wake schedule, anxiety levels and musical choices. This fall I resumed control of my car stereo again when we dropped our younger son off at college. Before then, it had been a bumpy ride trying to keep everyone happy. We went from my tunes to their tunes because I couldn't take the whining. Before long, I'd lost touch with my own preferences, thanks to a musical snob who often rode shotgun with his iPod.
Facing a long solo road trip from Pittsburgh to New Haven this November (unless you count Bob the Chihuahua sleeping in the back seat) I seized the opportunity to finally choose the music and bought Adele's 21 CD. By the tenth hour, all lyrics had been memorized. (A special shout out to I-95 traffic for making the Greenwich to Darien drive about 90 minutes longer than it has to be.) I sang back up on every track, amusing more than a few commuters along the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
It took only one road trip with Adele to realize her astounding talent. She doesn't almost have it all. She has it all. The amazing voice. The truth telling, soul-baring messages. The ability to make EVERY song touch an experience or emotion.
For anyone who's ever sang into a hair brush, your new anthems will surely be Adele's. Like Aretha Franklin's "Respect," Carole King's "It's Too Late," Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive," and Janice Ian's "At Seventeen," her songs hit an exposed nerve, but also move you forward.
Some things never change, like music making you feel 21 again. But parenting has a funny way of putting a twist on even that. Before long, I began worrying about Adele's heartache and her need to find a supportive relationship deserving of her attention.
When I confessed my obsession with 21 to my son, his response floored me.
"I could have loaned you my CD. Adele's great."
And that's when I knew she'd sweep the Grammys. Anyone who can bridge a family's music generation (and gender) gap, is sure to be rolling in the deep pile of awards. Congratulations Adele!
PS: My son is single and really kind.