We bond over American Idol. I accompanied him on his festival solo last year. We sing in the car on road trips. I was so happy when he joined choir I almost signed up myself. The teacher might have objected; it's a men's choir.
My teenager and I enjoy our music.
Amigo, age 18, has the most eclectic taste in tunes of anyoneI know. His playlist.com collection runs the gamut from songs he won't play when there's a grownup in the room to songs that prompt him to say, "Mom, you know this song!" and "Mom, sing!" which is a cue for us to harmonize. He'll listen to (or sing) pop, oldies, classic rock, classical organ, country and western (both kinds!), blues, bluegrass, and folk.
Yes, folk songs. The kind passed on for generations through the oral tradition, spawning major variations in some and little or no variations in others. Folk music: the ultimate in acoustic, unplugged performances. The kind heard at the Farmers' Markets, the neighborhood park, or the small-city downtown festivals.
Every Sunday night he listens to Simply Folk on Wisconsin Public Radio. If you're not close enough to my fair state, you can find it online and listen that way. From 5:00 to 8:00 Central Time (Daylight Savings or not, depending on the season), they play folk music. Some weeks there's a theme. Once a month they have Request Night, playing requests from faithful listeners. Amigo requests frequently, and we all listen together so we don't miss his favorites.
On the last Request Night, Simply Folk made his day. His week. His musical month.
Amigo sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" at his high school music festival in February and earned a favorable rating and positive comments. He sang well and grew to love the song. In preparation, he did a little research and found out that although Swing Low is more than 100 years old, this popular spiritual has hardly changed a bit. Why mess with perfection, even in the oral tradition? He emailed Simply Folk and asked if they had any recordings of this simple tune.
The response was positive. In fact, the show's producers chose not one, but three very different performances of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" to play on their Sunday night request show. Amigo was ecstatic.
I think we'll look for a few more folk festivals when summer comes. How many times can a mom and a teenager enjoy a concert together? This kind of performance, we will.