One reason I like my daughter who is almost 13 is because she is interested in music. Like, she is not the type of person who listens to a song for 40 seconds and then skips to the next song. That type of person has a place in this world, of course, and that place is in a river with alligators. No, my daughter is the type of person who will listen to a whole album intently, then ask intelligent questions about the types of instruments used, what studio trickery produced that wispy sound in track 3, and what did the singer mean when she said such-and-such. Ah, such attention to the essence of music warms my hypothalamus (I don't actually know what a hypothalamus does but I'm pretty sure it's good and that it's not overly inappropriate for a family blog).
A couple days ago me and Savannah were driving somewhere, just the two of us, stuck in traffic. She asked if she could pick the music. Go ahead, I says. She spun through the artists on my iPod, lingering on the Indigo Girls. "What are the Indigo Girls?" she asked. And I thought, Savannah you are the coolest daughter in the universe, but out loud I only said, "You want to know about the Indigo Girls?" because you cannot safely be loving and effusive with kids who are almost 13 -- being loving and effusive with them is a good way to get them to experiment with sniffing rubber cement and listening the Velvet Underground and to only refer to you as "Man."
She indicated she was interested in learning about the Indigo Girls. Not to brag, but I am a little bit of an expert on the history and socio-cultural context of the women's punk/rock/folk movement of the late-80s through the late-90s. This is because in law school I wrote a long paper on the Riot Grrrl movement, and also in an undergrad history class I used my semester paper to compare Madonna to Janis Joplin (unfavorably). I may not have learned much about history or law, but I am now kind of amateur-level authority on women in rock (and weak cheese hair metal bands, but Savannah didn't ask about them).
So I played Savannah a handful of Indigo Girl tunes, explained how they were pioneering female voices in socially conscious folk and rock along with others like Tracy Chapman and Natalie Merchant, pointed out those harmonies (!), and explained how the mid- to late-80s female folk movement arguably, and somewhat improbably, played into the rise of the rawer and more pointed Riot Grrrl movement of the early-90s, which itself led to the mainstream success of female pop artists like Sarah McLachlan and Jewel.
Savannah soaked it all in while I prattled on for most of the way home (I have a hard time stopping talking when I get on the subject of music). As we were pulling into the driveway she was again searching my iPod. "What's Nirvana?" she asked. Oh man, big mistake. I wouldn't let her out of the car for 20 minutes while we sat in the driveway and I briefly explained the significance of Nirvana (and how music history continues to overstate the significance of Nirvana). And now my daughter is ready to be 13.