Janci: Music remains a family matter

Guest columnist praises her parents’ musical learnings and discusses their influence on the holidays.

Jenelle Janci

Jenelle JanciAlong with embarrassing nicknames, fanny packs and baby pictures, the music taste of our parents is a topic that makes many a skin crawl.

I, however, couldn’t be bothered less.

For the first 13 years of my life — you know, before I became best friends with the Internet — my dad was my main source of music. A hippie of yesteryear, he has been in multiple musical groups, one of which was a country duo with my uncle — an act that landed them a nationally broadcasted spot on the 1980s talent program “You Can Be a Star.”

Although my dad was never successful enough to quit his day job, he still plays open mics occasionally and considers music a big part of his life, which in turn, makes it a big part of mine. Don’t let the Jimi Hendrix and Woodstock posters in our basement fool you — the man is up to date on modern music. Ever since he got a satellite radio subscription, good ol’ Jack Janci has been leaving me more burned CDs of new artists than I know what to do with.

Every car ride I share with my dad, primarily our two-hour trips to and from Temple, turn into battles of, “Wait…but have you heard THIS?” It’s an exhausting and not always agreeable back-and-forth, but by the end of it we’ve both heard a number of new artists we wouldn’t have heard otherwise.

Although she hasn’t been in a band herself (but the thought is highly pleasing to anyone who knows my mom), my mother is also passionate about music. Besides the fact that she fell for my dad while he was in a band — and who could blame her? The love for musicians must be genetic —  my mother’s love for music is evident when a tune with her particular groove begins playing.

While her main musical paramours remain Daryl Hall and Jackson Browne, my mom gets all weak in the knees when it comes to soul and doo-wop singers — another gene she passed down to me. Put on Sam Cooke’s “Twistin’ the Night Away” when we’re around if you’re prepared to see two ladies lose their s—. It’s some magical stuff.

My mom’s also pretty up-to-date on current music. She nearly wore out her copy of Bruno Mars’ “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” from overplay, and shocked me with an “I already know them” when I asked her if she had listened to the Lumineers. Ever since she’s had a Facebook account, my mom’s been unstoppable.

Other than bragging about my cool parents, I find it relevant to discuss how their musical tastes have shaped our holiday celebrations. What would Thanksgiving be without my mom humming “I Can’t Go For That” while we make green bean casserole that I can, and most certainly will, go for?

Even more prevalent is my dad’s musical influence over our Christmas celebration. Every year my dad and his two brothers perform a medley of Christmas carols and original tunes — a setlist that has rarely changed in my lifetime and I don’t foresee altering anytime soon. My personal favorite of the event, just beating out the trio’s classic rendition of the Chipmunk song, is an original by my dad entitled “Everybody’s Getting Something From the Liquor Store This Christmas.” Every once in a while my dad retreats back to his country roots, and this is a prime example. The song, which always sounds to me like it would benefit from a pedal steel guitar whining over my dad’s strumming, was inspired by my brother’s job at our neighborhood wine and spirits store. By the second verse, my father has listed each family member’s alcoholic beverage preference. It’s a real treat.

I’m aware that not all families incorporate music into their holiday traditions as much as mine. However, as those of us who live away during the school year prepare to retreat from our Temple abodes back to our lives at home, I encourage everyone to embrace their family’s musical influence and their influence on holiday gatherings, whether they be the Rat Pack or the Wu-Tang Clan — because Lord knows one day our kids will be asking us what was on our obsolete iPods.

Jenelle Janci can be reached at jenelle.janci@temple.edu.

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