Friday, February 15, 2008

Local Woman Listens To Grandson's iPod

When Kirksville High student and self-proclaimed “Northeast Missouri music czar” Larry Walforten forgot his iPod on his senior class trip to Thousand Hills State Park last week, he was more than a little peeved.

“All my friends had Fall Out Boy, Rick Astley, Cameo, and all the other musical visionaries of the 20th century to make this trip bearable. For five nights I had to listen to the sounds of a gently running river stream, the howls of the coyotes, and the calming, steady calls of the owls. Who wants to listen to that crap on a camping trip?”

Yet nothing prepared him for the shock he experienced when he returned home from the trip. His grandmother and legal guardian, 89-year old Eunice Walforten, had discovered Larry’s iPod. While Larry was suffering from both a lack of music and a massive sumac rash he caught on the second day, the woman was busy dissecting every song in her grandson’s collection.

“I discovered the device when I was cleaning Larry’s room on Monday morning. Larry’s a good kid, but he’s a total pig, just like his deadbeat long-gone father," the grandmother stated. “At first I thought it was a garage opener, and then a device for smoking marijuana,” Eunice readily acknowledges in between sips of Sanka.

Although she admits to not following music trends since “Richard ‘Rabbit’ Brown serenaded people on the Pontchartrain,” this hasn’t stopped Eunice from becoming very opinionated regarding Larry’s musical preferences. “I don’t think this young Dylan guy will amount to much,” Eunice says dismissively. “What’s a four-legged forest cloud anyway? In my day, someone who talked like that would rightly be committed.” Yet Eunice does say this “Dylan whippersnapper” has potential: “I absolutely loved Empire Burlesque, and I haven’t heard anything better than `Under The Red Sky' in a long time.”

She likewise dislikes the artists found in Larry’s seldom listened to “Music Cred” playlist. “This Waits fella barks, yelps, and howls like a deranged madman. Unconventional and challenging sounds have no place in my music world.” Eunice also fails to see the charm in Neil Young, the last artist in this playlist. “I’m not too keen on that voice, but I do predict Mr. Young will become a shrewd businessman whose concert tickets will one day cost hundreds of dollars.”

The grandmother also says she’s found herself constantly returning to the music of Black-Eyed Peas and on-stage urinator Fergie time and time again. “Now this gal’s got some real talent and a lot of important things to say, just like FDR in one of his Fireside Chats,” Eunice says enthusiastically. Fergie’s originality and cutting-edge tunes also impress her. “I doubt any musician has ever come up with a better generic, non-offensive, mediocre, and crassly commercial sound.” Yet Eunice doesn’t like Fergie’s chances of reaching the big time. “The American record-buying public’s well-documented disdain for such fluff rife with product placement might end her career though; this type of music never sells millions of albums.”

Larry reports that his grandmother’s constant opinions about his music have left a strain on their relationship. “My grandmother listens to the same music as me,” he laments in complete resignation. “Think it’s cool that an old woman knows all the lyrics to Jay-Z’s ‘99 Problems’ or that she no longer thinks Timbaland is a country in Eastern Europe? Well, it’s not.”

Larry also believes that his grandmother’s discovery of his music collection has cheapened the music for him. “Take Public Enemy for instance. That group understood me; they knew what it was like to grow up as an oppressed, suffering, and moderately affluent white kid in rural Northeast Missouri. Now she plays It Takes A Nation Of Millions for her friends during their games of Mah Jongg.”

Larry isn’t giving up hope though. “I plan to start exploring something called ‘indie rock,’ whatever the hell that means. From what I’ve heard, no one listens to that stuff. It’ll be years before she catches up to that music.”

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