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Confessions of a Boomer Dad: 5 Hits My Kids Brought Home

Green Day

When children grow up listening to rock, hard rock, and heavy metal in the home, and in the womb, it has an impact on their inchoate musical tastes. Children may come to appreciate the parental soundtrack, but it follows naturally that they will seek out their own music--may in fact rebel against parental music choices--upon reaching maturity. Maturity here is defined as middle school and high school in the context of musical appreciation.

It is the nature of pre-and post-adolescents to reject the icons of their forebears in pursuit of their own cultural identity. As a teen I rebelled against Andy Williams, Rosemary Clooney, and Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack with an obsessive attachment to The Beatles, Stones, Animals, and others.

What follows are five songs generated by two generations that followed mine, Gen-X and the millennials. If there was some other letter-coded generation I missed, please spare me, I feel old enough already.

These are songs my children brought home and blasted from their speakers loud enough so that I had no choice but to sit up and take notice. After all, they’d had no choice about having to hear repeated plays of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” (and they liked it!), so turnabout is fair play.

1. “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”—Green Day

This I can tell you: when news of an upcoming Green Day concert hit the halls of my son’s high school and my daughter’s middle school in 2004, it was the proverbial “big f%#ing deal.”

There was a scramble for tickets, and the arena-sized show sold out quickly. Green Day was pop, and they were punk, but mostly they were “Uuuuge!” They had the songs, and the chops, but mostly the attitude, a raucous combination of alienation, generational scorn, and enough sneering chutzpah to capture the hearts of Boomers, Xers, and millennials alike.

“Boulevard,” which won the Record of the Year Grammy that year, perfectly captures Green Day’s transgressive charm. Wall-of-sound guitar tracks interweave with ballad-to-balls-out dynamics, creating a gorgeous tribute to aloneness and rugged individualism. Lead vocalist/guitarist Billy Joe Armstrong shines like never before, leaving the door open for love while enshrining this big hit with Sammy Davis Junior’s “I Gotta Be Me” and Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” in pop music's lone wolf hall of fame.

2. “Still”—Geto Boys

All the kids were talking about a movie called Office Space in 1999. The now-famous printer destruction scene was accompanied by the brutal gangster rap song “Still.” Little did I know that by the time the film hit theaters the song itself was old news to my gangster rap-infatuated daughter (I blame MTV). Whenever I heard rap coming from behind her bedroom door, I told her to either turn it down or use headphones. While I knew what the genre was all about, until Office Space I had never really listened.