When I was a teenager in high school, and throughout college, I did listen to rock music, but preferred the music of the late 1960’s and early to mid-1970’s. There was some incredible music written during that era. I was never one to listen to a good deal of the current hits, but in the mid 1980’s I did occasionally listen to Journey, Air Supply, Chicago and a number of individual solo artists.

This past week, I spent one of the most enjoyable weeks working with the Beavercreek High School Friend’s Show Choir. Awesome! Sharon Busch is an incredible director, and she runs a brilliant program. The students were warm, welcoming and a delightful bunch of teenagers. I could work with them forever.

While working with the camp I became exposed to Nate James’ “The Message” and two hits from a medley of Bon Jovi, “It’s My Life” and “Living On A Prayer.”

Friday night was the parents’ show of what the show choir had accomplished. Sharon Busch grabbed a piano, and man, can she jam! I was conducting the show choir instrumentalists, nearly dancing while conducting, and Sharon was even more energetic than me. Bon Jovi’s music can really grab you!

The lyrics to “It’s My Life” have fastened themselves to my brain:

This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted
A silent prayer for faith-departed
I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd
You’re gonna hear my voice when I shout it out aloud

It’s my life
If it’s now or never
And I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
(It’s my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, “I did it my way.”
I just wanna live while I’m alive
It’s my life

This is for the ones who stood their ground
For Tommy and Gina who never backed down
Tomorrow’s getting harder make no mistake
Luck ain’t even lucky got to make your own breaks

It’s my life
And it’s now or never
I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
(It’s my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just want to live while I’m alive
‘Cause it’s my life

Better stand tall when they’re calling you out
Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down

It’s my life
And it’s now or never
‘Cause I ain’t gonna live forever
I just want to live while I’m alive
(It’s my life)
My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said
I did it my way
I just want to live while I’m alive

This afternoon, Jose returned from a six hour marching band rehearsal, and while getting ready to go to his job at One Lincoln Park, I asked if he could help me figure out how to download several songs onto my MP3 player. He happily agreed, enjoying the moment to assist his semi-technologically-challenged father.

Jose moved the cursor onto one of the songs and jumped back, laughing. “What the hell is this?”

I looked up at Jose. “It’s Bon Jovi. He was really big in the 1980’s and…”

“I know who Bon Jovi is. Why are you listening to him?” Jose asked as though he was a father catching his twelve year old son listening to Gangsta Rap.

“Well… I like it. Bon Jovi is just a little older than me.”

“You like this kind of music?”

“YES I DO.”

“That’s just out there.”

“When I was young, ‘far out’ was a popular little quip.”

“No, Dad, this is just funny to know you listen to rock music.”

“You’ve heard me listen to rock music before.”

“Yeh, but WICKED and hits from THE WEDDING SINGER [Broadway version] don’t count.”

“Jose, I listen to rock music, too.”

“But this is a little heavier rock than some of the shit I’ve heard you listen to.”

“I also like Meatloaf. The rock artist and not the…”

“I know who Meatloaf is…”

“Why is it so crazy that your father would like heavier rock?”

“You play Beethoven, Bach and Broadway. You don’t play Bon Jovi.”

“But I am at least still versatile in my musical tastes.”

A look of concern spread across his furrowed brow. “Are you attempting to be cool?”

“Cool? Excuse me???” I sat back in my chair on the deck and folded my arms. “Why can a 16 year old Mexican son be cool but a 42 year old Caucasian dad cannot?”

“You’re 43…”

“I know how old I am and I am cool, too!”

Jose gave me a tight-lipped grin, and nodded his head.

“Dad, it’s like this… it’s just messed up. My generation is into the coll rock music and guys your age want to listen to our music.”

“This is not YOUR music. Your grandmother listened to Rock-N-Roll when she was younger, and I can remember Mother listening to rock music when I was a teenager. She knew Air Supply and some of the other top bands. And another thing, when I went to pick up Molly Crouch for her lesson Thursday, I was telling Mrs. Crouch about Beavercreek’s show and when I said we were doing a Bon Jovi medley she said, ‘I bet one is LIVING ON A PRAYER.’ Mrs. Crouch is about four to five years older than me. Mrs. Branson even knew the songs and she use to like some of the heavier rock bands in the 1970’s. You make it sound like it is a sin for my generation to appreciate quality rock music.”

The tight-lipped grin appeared, accompanied by the chin extending from the neck in the familiar nod. Jose turned on his heal and went inside.

My MP3 player was loaded.

Around 6:00pm, I decided to go to Kroger to get some cucumbers to make some cucumber salad like my sister-in-law, Stacia, made the previous weekend (of course, the recipe from the internet was nothing like hers…). I plugged my MP3 player into the stereo, and as I backed out on to Shroyer Road, “Living On A Prayer” started. I nudged the volume a bit.

The song was still too soft.

The volume was pumped a little more.

At the stoplight at Lincoln Blvd a car pulled up beside me.

I was not paying attention. The music was a little loud.

Oh… I realized someone was shouting to me from the neighboring car.

“Mr. Haas!” screamed a former student. “When the hell did you start listening to Bon Jovi?”

“I’ve always liked rock music – and why is everyone saying ‘hell’ today?”

He laughed and abruptly left my side as the light changed to green.

I turned into the Kroger parking lot at Eichleberger Plaza, and as I slowly turned into a parking space, there was a gentleman approximately my age – his head began bouncing. I thought it was a seizure but then realized his head was pulsating to the music from my car.

“Wow! This is COOL. Someone my age is getting into this music.”

I remembered a few years back when rock legend Donna Summer was performing at the Fraze Pavilion near us. We walked over, the boys groaning with each step as the music got louder. We ran into Cathy & John Moore, parents of two wonderful sons who were former students (Jeremy and Dan). When “Last Dance” started, the area on the street outside the Fraze went nuts. Cathy was up dancing with others. How neat that was to see my generation, several decades removed from puberty, up dancing to a legend from our youth!

I smiled at that memory as I parked and got out of the car.

“That’s one helluva song!”

I turned to see the guy bouncing as he put his groceries in the back of his SUV.

“I saw him in concert,” the gentleman grinned.

“Bon Jovi?” I asked.

“Yeh. (Uncertain…) He was the one who recorded it. Sounds like you have the 2000 or 2007 version of his latest album.”

“Yip. That’s what I have all right.”

I turned quickly to head into Kroger, fearing he might as me more particulars. I had no idea what version I had. It was on Amazon.Com and I bought it for $.89, along with several other songs from the show choir medley.

As I traipsed through the aisles of the grocery store, I had a little more bounce to my step. Someone from my generation seemed to accept the fact that at my age I am allowed to listen to rock music.

“It’s my life…”

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