This happened two days ago, but in honor of the Grammys, it seems appropriate to post it now. As far as Liam and I are concerned, Adele should win all the prizes. I would also like someone to explain to me why Chris Brown can be all “Mr. Comeback” on the Grammys despite his habit of beating women, but Ellen Degeneres is a “bad role model” and shouldn’t be a spokesperson for JCPenneys.
Liam and I are driving home from soccer. I spend most of my life here driving to or from soccer, it seems, and yes, there is more than a smidge of irony in the fact that I had to move to the Middle East to become a true soccer mom.
So we’re driving and Liam asks me to play his new favorite Adele song, “Set Fire to the Rain.” He loves the entire album but this track is his new favorite.
“What do you think that means,” I ask, “set fire to the rain?” I’m clutching at conversational straws with him a bit these days because contrary to my hopes from last week, he’s not swerved from his insistence that by switching schools we’ve destroyed any possible shot he has at happiness.
So maybe he’ll talk to me about Adele and we can avoid the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has become his new way of ending the weekend.
“It’s like a paradox,” he says through a mouthful of cashews.
“Yes, but why? I mean, what’s she trying to say?”
Chewing sounds from the back seat. I persist. I wax nostalgic. “When I was your age, we had record albums. And they’d have the lyrics on them, maybe on the back, maybe on the inside sleeve, and we would read them and try to figure out what the songs meant.”
From the back seat: “What’s an album?”
I almost plow into the car ahead of me. “You’ve never seen a record?”
Long silence. “Um…in the movies, I think. Maybe.”
I explain the concept of “record album” to my child, although I leave out the part about how albums were incredibly useful when it came time to make those wacky cigarettes that mommy and her friends liked to share during intense debates about the meaning of this or that lyric on a Police album. (Hey. It was the early 80s. You want me maybe to be listening to Rush?)
We listen to Adele singing about her hands being strong but her knees being weak and Liam says “wait! pause it! I think I get it. She’s saying that she really loves him but he’s not very nice to her.” I push play and the song goes on to tell us about betrayal and anger and good-love-gone-bad. In the rearview mirror, I see Liam, listening intently.
“I see what she’s saying now — ” then there is what can only be described as a professorial pause. “It’s as Lady Gaga would say. It’s a bad romance. Yep, that’s it. It’s Lady Gaga’s bad romance.”
My son has discovered intertextuality. Maybe I should get him a record player.