The driver decides what’s played on the radio, right? Not in blogger Clay Nichols’ car, where on-Board entertainment has been—To his horror—Democratized.
By Clay Nichols
“Do I smell funny?”
I address this question to the backs of my three kids as they pile, giggling, into the rear seat of my wife’s vehicle, leaving me to drive home alone in mine.
I mutter about ingratitude and poor manners as I settle into the fortress of solitude that is my car’s cabin, but I know what’s really behind my kids’ preference for driving with their mom. It’s all about the radio.
In my wife’s car, democracy rules, and the youth vote carries the day. Pop music, Top 40, and hip hop blast from the sound system. Every night is Karaoke Night when she’s at the wheel, with young passengers singing along in full-throat enthusiasm. She has the only carpool that features choreography. The local stations are pre-programmed and my oldest son plays DJ, bouncing between them, avoiding commercials. The scariest thing of all, my wife sings along! She actually likes that stuff.
I grew up with one strict rule when it came to in-car entertainment: The driver controls the radio. It seemed only fair back then. If you had the chore of driving, then you got to decide how to ease that burden. As a result, my parents’ musical tastes had a profound impact on me. The 8-track in my Dad’s sedan featured a rotating selection of Waylon & Willie. My mom rocked her ’76 Malibu wagon with a mix of Beatles, Bee Gees, and Simon & Garfunkel.
Likewise, I see the long haul to the kids’ soccer practice as an opportunity to pass on my musical legacy. I see the car’s entertainment system as an instructional tool, the drive as our school day. When the doors close with a thunk, class is in session, and the curriculum is folk, rock and Americana Appreciation 101. At moderate volume, I play groups like Wilco, The Black Keys and Counting Crows, artists like Jamey Johnson, Amos Lee and Patty Griffin.
And my kids roll their eyes and groan.
I knew that my teachings were falling on deaf ears when my younger son defined rock as, “A bunch of old guys screaming at you.”
I try to win my wife over to my side by appealing to her parenting instincts. She shrugs off my concerns that some Top 40 lyrics are suggestive. “And rock doesn’t have that?” she asks. My kids roll their eyes and groan.
I try to at least widen her horizons. Why limit yourself to traditional Top 40 radio? Technology like Chevrolet MyLink* makes it possible to access SiriusXM Satellite Radio** and stream Pandora Internet Radio*** from your smartphone, controlling it right on the screen in the car. Use your compatible smartphone or MP3 player to create a fun playlist, load songs onto a flash drive and plug it into the USB port****. The possibilities are as varied as contemporary music itself. Anything other than submitting to the tyranny of Top 40!
She smiles indulgently at me. My kids roll their eyes and groan.
When we arrive home, my wife and kids emerge from her car laughing, exchanging conspiratorial looks. I chuckle to myself and feel a surge of warmth for my family. Sometimes a little conspiracy against dad has a sweetness to it.
And I get to listen to the good stuff with no complaints.
The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.
Clay Nichols is co-founder and editor of DadLabs.com. He can often be found in a high-quality camp chair cheering his face off for his kids.
*Available on most Chevrolet models. Visit chevy.com/mylink for details. MyLink functionality varies by model. Full functionality requires compatible Bluetooth and smartphone, and USB connectivity for some devices. MyLink on Spark and Sonic does not include functionality such as enhanced voice recognition, Gracenote and CD player. MyLink on Traverse does not include Gracenote functionality.
**Available on most Chevrolet models as part of a trial. If you subscribe after your trial period, subscriptions are continuous until you call SiriusXM to cancel. See SiriusXM Customer Agreement for complete terms at siriusxm.com. Other fees and taxes will apply. All fees and programming subject to change.
***Data plan rates apply.
****Standard on most Chevrolet models. Not compatible with all devices.