The other day, I heard Billy Joel’s For The Longest Time playing in a store, and had a total flashback to childhood. I was in 3rd or 4th grade and we were on a road trip where my dad played Billy Joe’s Innocent Man album many, many times. I don’t have any memory of my dad listening to earlier Billy Joel songs, but I can tell you he sure loved that particular album.
The flashback got me thinking of other albums and bands I associate with my dad. Definitely Simon & Garfunkel. The Kingston Trio. The Beach Boys. Those are the first ones that come to mind.
When I think of my mom, the memories of specific bands or albums aren’t as distinct. I’m not sure I could accurately name a favorite band of my mom’s. I remember may parents had a record collection, but I don’t know anything about how it came to be. Did they collect them all together? Did they bring their own record collections to the marriage?
If my own kids were asked what bands they associate with me, I’m guessing the older three would say Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, and Sufjan Stevens. I’d say that’s accurate — I do love all three very much — but it’s interesting to me that none of them represent music from my teens, or even from college. Instead, I would say those three bands represent my thirties. And it occurs to me that I don’t think I’ve done a very good job introducing my kids to the music that influenced me when I was their ages.
In fact, with my younger three kids, I don’t know if they would associate any particular music with me at all. In France, I would listen to music every time we were in the car — and we were in the car a lot. But since we moved back to the States, when I’m in the car, I mostly listen to NPR or other news instead of music. It’s like music has unexpectedly taken a back seat to other interests. Is this just a phase? Is it an age-related thing? I have no idea.
Thinking about all of this made me curious. When you picture your own parents and music, what favorite band or songs or albums come to mind? And if you have kids of your own, do you think they associate certain music with you? Or know your favorite band? Have you intentionally shared favorite music from your youth? Have you ever gone through a phase where you’re not listening to music very often? I’d love to hear.
P.S. — Sometimes Ben will tune in to an eighties station, and it’s so funny to realize I know every word to every song. Often I don’t know the name of the band, or the name of the song, but still, I know every freaking word. Even on songs I didn’t really like during the 80’s!! Hah. Clearly my brain must store all this stuff just in case. : )
43 thoughts on “Your Parent’s Favorite Band”
We grew up listening to a lot of Neil Diamond, ABBA, Billy Joel, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Barbra Streisand. I still listen to it now (except Barbra). I feel like what I listen to now changes daily but most of what I’m drawn to is music from my past. Occasionally I love a new band like Bon Iver or. Leon Bridges. It took me four days of no music (which is unusual) after we brought our daughter home before I played her the first song she would ever hear. My husband wanted to just turn the radio on, but I was adamant that the first song she heard somehow would set the soundtrack for her childhood. In the end I chose Stevie Wonders, Isn’t she lovely and teared up as we danced in our living room all together (we waited and hoped for her for several years). Now at 7 months she still likes Stevie and also shows an affinity for Bob Marley.
I love the idea of having a specific song for your child’s homecoming and “soundtrack”!
Now I need a “way-back-machine” so I can do that for all my kids!
Isn’t She Lovely just makes me cry no matter what! For my second child, I played Bobby McFerrin and Yo Yo Ma’s album, “Hush” in the hospital starting from her first day on this earth. It’s a beautiful album! Did it influence her music in anyway? I don’t know, but she did grow up to play the viola and to sing opera!
That’s so lovely, Lisa! I have never thought of “the first song my child will ever hear” but I could totally get into that whole idea.
I grew up in a home where music was ‘mainly’ 50’s country, but also Johnny Mathis, Dean Martin, Billy Holiday, and others. (I’m not a huge country music fan)
When I had children I wanted them to love all kinds of music so they listened to everything from classic opera to Beasty Boys, Michael Jackson to Hawaiian slack key, rockabilly and showtunes… we were all over the map! But also, at home and in the car – a LOT of NPR/PRI!
I saw the soundtrack for “Pulp Fiction” at Target and noticed it had “Miserlou” by Dick Dale, (1962! when I was a really little kid) “Teen Age Wedding” and a few other songs I LOVE, so I picked it up excited to introduce surf rock etc. to our after school mandatory dance party playlist. A few days later, we had a bunch of kids at the house and one of my best friends, the Bishop’s wife. I decided this would be a great time to not only use the new “remote” feature on the cd player, but also crank up some “Miserlou” and get our surf on. So I shushed everyone down and said “Ok everyone, this is one of my favourites!” and turned up the volume very loud and pressed “play”.
Now I am not sure anyone has ever seen “Pulp Fiction”, but the first cut on that soundtrack album is labeled “Miserlou” but is preceded by the whole “Hunny Bunny” sequence complete with the “muther freaking” all over the place very salty language!!! Holy smokes! It was both horrifying and hilarious all at once. My kids will definitely be bringing this story up at my funeral.
HAHAHAHA! The best story! So good.
I love the Pulp Fiction soundtrack! Yes, LANGUAGE, but we have played some of the songs for our kids without the salty dialogue!
I have to tell you Sarah, nothing will make the Bishop’s wife giggle at you for years like playing her the “HunnyBunny” scene at full blast in front of her two teen aged children!
Unfortunately this isn’t my most embarrassing moment! It seems my entire life is one embarrassing moment right after the other! (like the time a 3 day in the field GREEN missionary from Smallville Idaho pulled my DD black lace bra out of my husband’s glove box… yeeeeikes, there is NO way to tell this story where it isn’t as awkward as kissing your sister, it’s all very innocent, but ya, that doesn’t come across either!)
The Eagles. Oh my stars, so much EAGLES! I will admit, when I hear “The Last Resort”, it brings on the tears.
My dad is also a huge Anne Murray fan. Even though she moved to Ontario, she would often make an appearance at Christmas Eve mass in the very small town of Pugwash Nova Scotia where my grandparents lived. Since my dad never joined us at church, we got great pleasure in running through the door gloating that we saw her!
And finally, Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” record was the one my sister and I played all of the time because the album art blew our minds.
A couple years ago, my kids started working on a group lip sync to Total Eclipse of the Heart. It’s one of their favorites for sure.
The last resort is my husbands favorite song too!
I cannot hear a Beatles song and not think of my mom. She loved the Beatles with a passion. Also, Elvis Presley and some French singers Francis Cabrel and Joe Dassin. I grew up with a single mom and we always had music in our house. We listen to a lot of music and I know that if you asked my kids what band they think of when they think of me, they would say U2 without a hesitation.
If asked about Ben Blair, I think my kids would say U2 as well.
I didn’t get into popular music as a kid until I was in 8th grade. I distinctly remember starting to listen to different radio stations than my parents then. But then in high school my mom made an effort to listen to what we were listening to, which I really appreciated. I think it was certainly in an effort to make sure we were listening to good stuff, but also a way to connect with us. Funny enough, the car I drove in high school only got the oldies station, so I fell in love with 50s and 60s music then. My dad always thought it was hysterical that I knew that era’s music better than him at times.
I mostly associate disco music and musicals with my parents. And I’ve definitely carried the love of musicals with me and passed that onto my kids…cause I’m a theater teacher. In fact, the only thing we listen to regularly are musical soundtracks (usually to whatever show I’m currently directing and what I’m pining to see but can’t since we live overseas). My kids are very well versed in Broadway showtunes, but I doubt any of them could name a popular artist, though the oldest is only 9. But my two year old can sing nearly every song from “James and the Giant Peach,” as that is the show we are getting ready to do. And my entire extended family can sing the entirety of Les Miserables, or the Scarlet Pimpernel, or The Sound of Music together. I hope my kids continue to love showtunes and have as many fond memories singing together as a family as I do.
I had almost no familiarly with show tunes growing up (and I still don’t know much), but my daughter Olive has gotten into them, and with her older siblings mostly out of the house, she’s had main control of the music for the last couple of years. Which means we’ve listened to a lot of musical soundtracks. : )
Neil Diamond is my mom’s all time favorite, and my dad loved Simon and Garfunkel and the Kingston Trio. Our kids SHOULD know that U2 is my favorite, but you never know how much attention they have been paying to you.
Neil Diamond! I remember going to see his movie as a family when I was quite young. When I think of Neil Diamond, I mostly think of Ben Blair. He loves playing Neil Diamond songs on the guitar, and he’s also good at taking a non-Neil Diamond song, but singing it Neil Diamond-style. hah!
I love the thought of making non-Neil songs Neil Diamond style! We just traveled with relatives who live in Minneapolis, and they had a CD from a local singer who was singing Neil’s songs very well. I want to get his CD, but he only sells locally. Maybe they will surprise us and send one to us!
U2 for my husband. Guns N Roses for me (although my kids know this in name only and not really the specific songs.) And the music we brought with us to the hospital for my firstborn to hear first? Gordon Lightfoot! That also was their first concert, by chance – we were supposed to go with another couple who broke up, and instead of wasting the two tickets, we took my 3 month old daughter and nearly 3 year old son with us. We walked around the block at intermission and knew we could easily leave if anyone was fussy, but they behaved great!
As a family, we are all fans of Imagine Dragons – too bad every concert venue in our vicinity has astronomical ticket prices.
My 14 year old daughter and I went to a Zac Brown Band concert on Sunday night. I was amazed to see so many babies/toddlers/preschoolers there! For sure they were a tiny minority (ha!), but there were more than a few.
Music was a big part of my childhood & some of my best memories are of sitting around the campfire listening to my dad play guitar and harmonica. Our “family favorite” for my whole life has been John Prine! As a whole family (and with our spouses) we’ve seen him in concert a number of times & always look forward to his tour schedule. We play his Pandora station lots a home & since we don’t allow tech at our cabin, we play CDs–JP, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Phish, Grateful Dead, Neil Young, the Beatles, and then sometimes toss in something from our teens/early 20s like Sufjan Stevens, Modest Mouse, some old Olympia WA punk music or my husband’s college favorites like Barenaked Ladies or Elvis Costello.
As a teacher, I’ve learned that students’ background knowledge has to be built, so we do try to infuse our days with music.
I find that I don’t listen to as much music in the winter when it’s cold and dark (when it would actually be a good idea for me to listen!) That’s been a thing for years.
We listen to a lot of NPR in the car as well, but our boys will request the local semi-alternative channel regularly when they are along.
I just needed to say, I read your PS and my first thought was, “Ben? Who’s Ben?…OH! Ben Blair!” I so think of your husband as Ben Blair that “just Ben” took a moment to process.
Most Friday nights we commenced with a family cleaning party while cranking Rhythm of the Saints and Graceland. When all the machines were going and the beds were remade with fresh linens, I’d order pizza and salad and we’d sit down to dinner followed by board games. My grown sons still comment that every time they hear a song from one of these albums they are inclined to pick up a broom or mop!
I always liked to keep the car free of music or talk radio. It distracts from potential conversation or the opportunity to simply look out the window and daydream. Particularly on the way to and from school, I thought it important to allow their minds to find calm. On road trips, we’d definitely bring out the audio books and have sing-along parties!
Oh, man! I love this thread. For me, whenever I hear anything by James Taylor, it makes me think of my dad. ACDC also does this, because whenever we would have a cleaning day, we would know because Dad would put on ACDC really loud. My sister and I would howl “Noooooo!!!” Because we knew that our whole day was done for. But now, we hear ACDC and it makes us delighted. For my mom, it’s definitely Carole King, Sara Barielles, or Five For Fighting. Those are her favorites.
I think classic 70’s rock will be what my kids remember me listening to. Right now, my seven year old’s favorite song is Hotel California. This thrills me. :) I’m trying to inject a little more motown into their life. It’s really fun to see what music my kids really respond to…who knows what their genre of choice will be? I want them to taste it all. :)
Foreigner 4, Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA and The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack were in heavy rotation in my childhood home. All on vinyl of course. I still love that Foreigner album!
My dad liked the Kingston Trio too! Although we had albums of theirs when I was a kid, I don’t remember him listening to them at all, which is sort of funny. My mom was a big Anne Murray fan. So 70s. ;)
If asked my daughter would immediately name the Beatles as my husband’s favorite band. She would also know he likes Van Halen (original line up), but I don’t think she could do the same for me.
My favorite mix tape when I was growing up turned out to be a combination of the American Graffiti soundtrack and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. I still love The Beatles, The Beach Boys and oldies from the 50s.
I also love U2 but my favorite band I’ve listened to every day for the past 10 years is Angels and Airwaves (the band Tom DeLonge formed when he left blink-182), and my kids have grown up with them and associate that band with me.
My husband shares my taste in music and added a lot of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to our collection. There’s a lot of classic rock–we have found it hard to like the more current stuff on the radio!
I have no idea what my parents favorite bands were. I don’t think they really had any? My kids would say I like country music and probably (correctly) identify the Dixie Chicks as my favorite band. My husband has much different musical tastes. They know he likes hip hop and classic rock, but I’m not sure the kids or I could correctly pick his favorite. When my kids were little, I mostly played audio books in the car. They enjoyed them at the time, but my 16 year old daughter now bemoans her lack of 2000’s music knowledge. I think it helped them be good readers and expanded vocabularies though, so I am ok with that!
What a great topic! Music was such a big part of our household. My parents were divorced, but both were equally into music, but different music. My mom had such eclectic tastes, and I believe that I owe my taste in music to her. Mom played the soundtrack from the musical “Hair” as well as Beatles albums, music from Roberta Flack and Donna Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66, among others. Consequently, I grew up loving all of that. At Christmas mom would always play Christmas albums from Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald (I actually played an Ella Fitzgerald CD during the repast of my mom’s memorial service).
My dad was all about jazz, and his favorite artist was John Coltrane. I think when my children consider this question as it pertains to me, they will say that they remember me listening to The Isley Brothers, Steely Dan, Lauryn Hill, Sergio Mendes (all Brazilian music, really), Sade, Seal, Prince, David Bowie, and Sting.
My dad has a great story about receiving a Chicago album at Christmas as a teen. The details like the highly anticipated cover image and putting the needle on the vinyl for the first time and having his mind blown by the sound of the first song! And hearing what comes out of each speaker!
When our kids were young, the local public radio station played only classical during the day, so they grew up with that. In fact once, when a song with vocals was on, our daughter whined, “Turn off that singing!!” She grew up to play piano and oboe, and our son plays piano, clarinet, mellophone and is a senior music composition student. He, however, is not opposed to vocals in music, though he doesn’t have a lot of experience composing for voice yet. I often wonder if those early years of listening to classical, baroque, romantic, etc music all of the time had an impact on their future interests. Music and reading and talking to your kids…all so important!
Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Carol King, John Prine, James Taylor, and Jimmy Buffet (specifically the Volcano album). We also only had two cassette tapes in the car during road trips: the soundtrack to The Big Chill, and Sweet Baby James by James Taylor.
Linda Ronstadt for my mom, though now she acts surprised that I remember that! For my dad, The Who, Creedence Clearwater, Little Richard, and The Traveling Wilburys (of all things!).
We listen to “pancake music” on Sundays after church which is The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album so I think my kids will remember that!
I have a son named Aksel. As someone who was in jr.high/high school in the 90s I feel like I have to tell people, “It’s Scandinavian Aksel, not Guns n Roses Axl”. :)
Love this! My kids occasionally call me “Mama Jazz” because I am crazy about jazz music. We all love all music, though. We were on vacation the summer of 2016, and any twentyone pilots, “Me Too” (Meghan Trainor), and “Cheap Thrills” (Sia) always bring back California for our midwest family. I always think of my mom when I hear Billy Joel, or “Time in a Bottle,” or that one that goes “I wanna hear some funky dixieland, pretty mama come and take me by the hand.” And my dad is “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog” and “I Like Bread and Butter.”
First – the picture at the top of the post of the Beach Boys album made me so excited, because at 35 I loooooove the Beach Boys. A few years ago, for my birthday, my sister and husband took me to their concert and it was so fun. And I love the Beach Boys because my dad did. He also loved Simon and Garfunkle and the Beatles.
Something that is kind of sad to me is that I don’t think my kids would associate any particular music with me (well, maybe the Hamilton album), because I mostly just listen to popular music. I am a fitness instructor, so it’s kind of a part of my “job” to stay up with current music. I should do better about introducing them to Destiny’s Child, Green Day, and Dave Matthews Band. :)
I don’t remember my mum listening to music until I was about 12 years old and then it was Abba. Playing records at home was more my dad’s thing. He never listened to modern music. I remember him listening to Gracie Fields, the Seekers, Nana Mouskouri, Rolf Harris, church music and classical music.
I used to listen to music a lot but in the last few years, probably since around the time I turned 50, I don’t listen to music anymore. I need quiet and silence these days. I used to sing and hum as I worked around the house, but I don’t do that anymore either. To put that in perspective though, I care for my 31 year old daughter who is severely intellectually disabled and she listens to music ALL day every day. She likes to watch things on her iPad and match up the music on her music player, plus she sometimes has her radio going as well, so that is 3 things making noise. My daughter listens to mostly children’s entertainers from her childhood, nursery rhymes and musicals. My other children will remember the favourite songs of their disabled sister which she listens to over and over and over again. They are etched in our brains. I think this may be why in my own time I chose silence over music. The quiet nurtures me and helps me manage all the other time when there is constant noise.
Ha! All these “parents” favorites are MY favorites. I am much older than most of your readers- 58-probably close to the age of your parents- so I grew up In the 6o’s and 70’s loving James Taylor, Yes, Dan Fogkebwrg, Cat Stevens, The Beatles, Yes Genesis, etc and then Brice Springsteen, The Eagles, U2 as time went on. My parents liked jazz!
My parents but especially my Dad never turned the stereo off in my house. He had so many favourites e.g. Beatles, Linda Ronstandt, The Pretenders etc and was always listening to the latest thing. I feel l appreciate many genres of music because there was literally a soundtrack to my childhood :)
I love that you asked this question! Music was such an influential part of my parents’ live and subsequently mine (and hopefully my children’s)!
My parents are baby boomers and grew up in such an fascinating time, musically and politically. Their stories from their adolescence revolve around music – my mom and her best friend, riding their horses down country roads and listening to “Wild Thing” on AM radio tied to a horse’s saddle, my dad’s first road trip in the Ford Fairlane he saved up for by mowing neighbors’ yards, blasting Wipeout as he and his friends played air drums along on the upholstered seats. They were part of the Vietnam War generation and met at Kent State in 1970. The protest songs and anthems from that time MEAN something to them, and they can’t hear them without waxing on to us about how it felt to be young and scared but also brave and powerful during those days.
We were always listening to music in our house and talking about it. My mom loved and still loves James Taylor, Paul Simon and Eric Clapton, and my dad has always been excited to hear the next new thing. The radio was always on and we would get to call in during the request hour and choose anything we wanted! It was important to my dad that we cultivated our own tastes in music, too, but he also loved sharing with us his favorites. I taught myself to read by spending hours listening to my parents’ records and following along with the lyrics in the album liners! Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Teaser and the Firecat (Cat Stevens), particular. And for my 5th birthday, I remember how hugely grown up and important I felt when I received my very first records that were ALL mine – Mister Mister, The Bangles, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller! Ha, so 80s.
When I was in high school I got into punk and ska and reggae and my dad was thrilled to find something new he’d never heard before! We’d listen to new CDs in the car together on the way to school and talk about them. My dad was one of the first people I know to listen to Pandora and he still comes up with new band recommendations for me every time I stop over. One of my friends loves to tell the story about how we came in late at night one when we were in college to find my dad listening to headphones in the kitchen. He took them off and said, very seriously, “have you guys heard this Justin Timberlake fellow? A-MA-ZING.”
My parents loved Fleetwood Mac, Dwight Yoakam and Dolly Parton. I never really realized what an awesomely eclectic mix of music that was until just now as I’m writing it down. If I’m feeling sad, I always ask Alexa to play me a mix of these artists and it immediately brings me right back to being a kid and all the awesome memories that accompanied my childhood. If you asked my kids what’s my favorite music, they would immediately reply “anything by Prince, especially Purple Rain.” Probably because most nights before they go to bed, I drag them into the kitchen and say to them, “want to hear the greatest song of all time, written and performed by the greatest musician of all time?” And then, Purple Rain ends the night in the most perfect way.
The music I remember growing up with was Dan Fogelberg and Rod Stewart and, later, Garth Brooks. But the records in my parents’ collection included a lot of Elton John, Simon & Garfunkel and Cat Stevens.
If my kids were asked to guess my favorite band they’d say Mew, but they don’t let me listen to it. Together we listen to Queen and Abba and Of Montreal and Miike Snow because that is what we can all agree on. I recently introduced my 7-year-old daughter to Erasure (who I just got to see again after so many years) and she just kept shaking her head and saying “this is so weird”…
On a family vacation when I was in middle school my father decided he’d had enough of us kids listening to our Walkmans and bought two cassettes for all of us to listen to on the car stereo: the soundtracks to Flashdance and Ghostbusters. He was so excited and played them over and over. We, of course, were annoyed and horrified but looking back I now see it as the sweetest thing and those two albums will always and forever remind me of him, which also makes me laugh, because one of the songs on the Flashdance soundtrack is called “Manhunt”.