The Gap

I was 42 when my son, Dillon, was born. I’d say we are basically two generations apart in many respects. We still like some of the same movies, tv shows. video games and animes. We also like some of the same music, big movie scores and orchestral productions. Because of our age difference, however, there are some big, and sometimes humorous, differences in our musical knowledge and in our perception of what is ‘old’ music. Below is a fictitious treatment of a conversation Dil and I might have over this holiday season.

Me – “Dil, do you recognize any of these Christmas songs we’re
listening to?”
Dil – “Well sure, dad, I know almost all of them. I mean, like,
how many Christmas songs are there??”
Me – “Maybe more than you think, boy. Ever hear of ‘Shake Hands
With Santa Claus?’ Or ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,’ by Little
Jimmy Boyd? Or ‘Snow Bound’ by Sarah Vaughn? Or ‘All I want For Christmas Is
My Two Front Teeth?’ How about ‘Christmas In Sun Valley?'”
Dil, looking at me strangely… “No. But I’ve heard of Sarah, uh,
what’s her name…”
Me – “Ha! Okay. Have you heard of Louie Prima? Brenda Lee? Peggy
Lee? Perry Como? Johnny Mathis?  Dean Martin? Andy Williams??”
Dil – “Is he any relation to Roger?”
Me – sigh. “How about the Carpenters?”
Dil – “The Carpenters…….. nope.”
Me – “All right… here’s a dead giveaway… who sang “White Christmas?”
Dil – “Oh, I know that tune. A lot of people have sung it.”
Me – “Yeah, but who made it a hit, initially?”
Dil – “It was a hit??”
Me – “Oh god. Dil, it was the biggest selling, most money-making
record in history…”
Dil – “Record??” Then, “Yeah yeah… I’m just pulling your chain now…”

Me – “But really, man, don’t you know who sang “White Christmas??”
Dil – “Think about it, Dad. When did it first come out?”
Me – Well, shit…  it was written in 1942 or somewhere in there…”
Dil – “Right, and what was that? Let’s see, that was only 44 years
before I was born. I’m supposed to know that shit, right??”
Me – “But it was a hit, it was the biggest song ever, at the time,
and the writer, Irving Berlin, was a famous song writer… didn’t I
ever tell you about it??”
Dil – “You’ve played it for me, but I don’t know who sang it.”
Me – “Ever hear of Bing Crosby?”

Dil, with a huge eye-roll – “Bing. Bing…. uh, Cosby?? What?
Not sure I ever heard of that dude….. of COURSE I’ve heard of
Bing Crosby. Always wondered how he got famous. White Christmas, eh?”
Me – “I don’t believe you. Don’t mess with me, boy, this is serious.
You need to know about some of these things, these classic tunes and
who sang them…”
Dil – “Why? Why do I need to know who did stuff in your era? I hear
a Christmas song, I like it… why do I need to know who sang it first?
That person is most likely dead now anyway. Is there going to be a quiz??
I don’t think so… isn’t it enough to be able to just enjoy the
song, without knowing the history of the singer or song writer?
Especially if it happened 40 – 50 years ago….. Jesus. And besides,
how do I know if this Williams whatever, or the carpenter, or this
Irving person, even exists? How do I know you’re not like, making these
names up, just to mess with me? Wait… let me ask you… do you know
who Bruce Springsteen is??”
Me – “C’mon Dil, I’m just sayin’…”
Dil – “No, Dad, I’m just sayin’- Do I know who Henry Mancini is? Yes,
because you’ve told me a hundred times. Do I know who Miles Davis is??
Yes, because you’ve told me a hundred times. Do I know who Irving
Whatever is?? NO. Because you never told me, and because nobody my
age has a clue who the dude is. Sorry Dad, it’s not something they
taught us in school. Maybe because It’s Not Important???? God….”
Me – “Okay, you’re right. I hate to say it, but you’re right. Guess
I’ve been trying to force my old values on you. It WAS a long time
Dil – “Look. I know that music and that period of time means a lot
to you. But you have to remember that Christmas music is a month long
at best, and most of us have never heard of those singers. It doesn’t
mean they weren’t important at the time, or great even… but like,
we’ve got our own great singers now. If American Idol had a
Christmas sing-off, would you know any of the singers??”
Me – “Oh, that’s not fair…”
Dil – “Not fair?? I’m talkin’ singers right now, and you’re talkin’
singers 44 years ago, and you’re like sayin’ “it’s not fair?????”
Me – Silence.
Dil – “Okay, Dad. So who was this Como dude?”
Me – “No,no, you’re right, Dil. It really doesn’t matter. I’m attached
to all that, but that’s no reason you should be. You’ve made a
good point… all that is my life, my memories. I won’t try to
force that stuff on you again, okay?”
Dil – “Oh, for sure, man, it’s all good. I know you didn’t like,
mean anything by it…”
Me – “Good. Glad you understand, boy. Just one more thing, though…
do you happen, just *happen* to know which big, I mean REALLY BIG
rock star sang, ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas?'”
Dil – “Ummm… give me a hint?”
Me – “Well, okay… Elvis…”
Dil – “Elvis who?”

Steve Hulse

3 Replies to “The Gap”

  1. Well written, Steve. My question to Dillon would be, “Do you know the origin of the holiday?” The spirit of love this time of year is almost palpable. Music is one important aspect of the season to those of our generation. My kids grew up listening to the old favorites in our home. What did Christmas mean to Dillon and your family while he was growing up? It might have been different if he had grown up in Virginia City. Great way to introduce the season, Steve.

    1. Yes, Karen he does know the origin of the holiday. He took a Sunday school class in the church we were attending at the time for four years, learned the origin of most spiritual holidays, and how and when they’re celebrated. We celebrated Hanukkah one year with some friends of ours. It was pretty cool.
      Actually, he knows a lot more about Christmas music and the old hit singers than I gave him credit for. Matter of fact, he’s not speaking to me right now, after reading this…… ;^)

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