‘And it was all weasel’: Defining a relationship through music

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One of my proudest moments at four years old was memorizing all the lyrics to “Hang Me Up To Dry” by The Cold War Kids. I sang it confidently to my parents one evening, a cappella. Along with The Cold War Kids, my father force-fed me music by the Rolling Stones, The Black Keys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others. He did everything he could to make sure that his music taste was ingrained into my head. 

Every night, the lullaby my father sang me was his own rendition of “Yellow” by Coldplay — except in his version, “yellow” was replaced with “weasel,” his nickname for me when I was young.

Cartoons and movie nights were replaced with music video watch parties. My favorite DVD was “Slowboat to Hades,” an interactive rendition of music videos and concert clips accompanying the release of the Gorillaz album Demon Days. My Christmas gift at six years old was a first-generation iPod Nano, pre-downloaded with all of my father’s favorite songs. I stayed up well past my bedtime replaying “Brick” by Ben Folds Five and listening to Radiohead. 

Looking back, passing down his knowledge of music was one of the few hobbies my father could easily share with me. My father has been in a wheelchair for my entire life, so teaching me how to play sports, cook or use tools was out of the question. Listening to music was something to bond over and an activity he was always able to partake in.

His music taste stuck with me throughout my early adolescent years, up until middle school when I decided that I had been deprived of listening to the “Top 40” played repetitively on the radio. As I began to branch out into an entirely new realm of music — boy bands, indie-pop and eventually rap — the shared interest between me and my father diminished. Our common ground developed into me complaining about listening to Iron & Wine at dinner, and him complaining about playing J. Cole and Kanye in the car. 

At the beginning of high school, the relationship between my father and me strayed even further. After a surgery, he was placed into long-term in-patient care. I saw him every other night for dinner. We caught up about what was happening at school, how cross country was going, what I was going to be up to over the weekend — the basics. There was little time for mindless bickering about the legitimacy of electronic music and why I should listen to a “real band” like Nirvana. Our similarities naturally lessened, and we began to grow apart.

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