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"Quick, Who's This?"

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As a toddler, I was a devoted fan of preschool staples like the Barney song and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. I loved the inevitable group hug that followed a recitation of “I love you, you love me.” I adored sitting in a semicircle before naptime and linking my fingers together to represent a spider making its long journey up a waterspout.
But there were two other songs that I learned at this age that I am quite sure my fellow preschoolers had never heard of. That is, unless they too had fathers who took it upon themselves to sing “Undone: The Sweater Song”, by Weezer, and “If I Had a Million Dollars”, by the Barenaked Ladies, to them on a regular basis. While my peers were busy plodding through the mundane rhyme schemes of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, I was belting out quality lyrics like “If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away. Watch me unravel, I’ll soon be naked, lying on the floor, lying on the floor, I come undone”, with my voice crescendoing to an anguished wail that rivaled that of Rivers Cuomo, Weezer’s lead singer, himself.
Thus began my musical education under the guidance of my father. I don’t think that there was any significant reason that he chose these particular songs to teach me when I was barely out of my pacifier stage, but they still made a huge impression on me and remain two of my favorite songs even today, 14 years later. Of course, my musical taste has expanded considerably since preschool and encompasses many more styles and genres that I didn’t even know existed when I was younger.
My father’s main tool in passing his impressive knowledge of music on to me is the radio. We have an unspoken rule that whenever we are driving somewhere together, the radio should be on, the volume should be up, and National Public Radio can only be listened to for up to 15 minutes before the station must be changed (I sometimes have to uphold this clause by force). We have learned the art of avoiding long commercial breaks, tedious disc jockey commentary, and waves of static, allowing us to revel in the contentedness that can only be achieved through listening to music without interruption.
Of course, there is one problem with this whole operation, and that is the dreaded question that I know will be inevitably demanded of me:
“Quick Kiran, who’s this?”
About 85% of the time, my dad recognizes the song that is playing on the radio before I do, and he quizzes me on my musical knowledge by posing this question several times per car ride. I am significantly more accurate now than I was when we first started playing this game several years ago, but I still have to ask for clues sometimes. And I occasionally have to admit defeat and utter the dreaded response: “I don’t know. Who is it?” Then my father will lament my underdeveloped ear, and the game will begin all over again.
When the tables are turned, I milk my glory for all it’s worth, exclaiming “Dad, I can’t believe you don’t know who this is! How have you never heard this song before?” until I finally take pity on him and reveal the answer. To his credit, he usually only misses pop songs that will be out of style within the year, while I have the audacity to not recognize the timeless tunes of Peter Gabriel and The Clash.
There’s something magical about hearing a song that my dad and I both love playing on the radio. It’s infinitely more satisfying than hearing it on an iPod or another music player where we have control over the selection. The unpredictability of the radio keeps us on our toes, teasing us enough that we’ll suffer through several mediocre songs on the off-chance that a good one will be on next. And when something that we love does finally play, the volume gets turned up a little higher, the windows get rolled down a little lower, and we look at each other before saying together:
“Quick, who’s this?”





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