Monday, June 24, 2013

Norah Jones "Sunrise"

"Sounds like a siren."

Said by another grade schooler, I might have taken it as a slam on the song.  But he was no ordinary grade schooler.

I was a strangely adult-like small child.

I don't know if it was the product of being the oldest child in my family.  Or growing up in a neighborhood where the only kids to play with were older.  Or if it was because I was hyper-verbal.  Or that my parents stressed some very old-school patterns of etiquette.

Whatever the reason, I was a strangely adult-like small child.

Through much of my grade school and middle school years, I really felt like many of the friends I had hung out with me more because their parents liked me, than they did.  It wasn't unusual for me to find myself at the kitchen table, having some kind of thoughtful discourse with my friend's parents, while my peers were outside, you know, being kid-like.

Kids would look at me funny, because I used these phrases like "one fell swoop" that no normal kid would ever use.

In middle school we had to do a book report, using a biography.  While the age-appropriate kids read sports biographies, and the savvy kids opted for teacher-bait books about Harriet Tubman and Mark Twain, I read an autobiography of Sid Caesar.

You know, because middle school is when all kids really become interested in the golden age of live television, the roots of Jews in comedy and the recovery stories of alcoholic TV icons.

Eventually, my older-than-I-should-be thing evened out, and I'm a reasonably normal, age-appropriate 40-something.

But for many years back there, I wasn't speaking the same language as the other kids.

When I first started dating my wife, back in 2004, her nephew was a grade schooler in circumstances much like mine at that age.  In some ways, even more pronounced.

Where I was the oldest kid in my family, he was an only child.  Where my friends were older neighborhood kids, he spent a ton of time exclusively with adults.

And where I had an unusual interest in, depth of knowledge about, and amazing recall of TV comedy, he was same about monsters, creatures both real (like bugs) and mythological.

He could talk extensively on the topics, and wasn't shy to do so.

My wife's family was welcoming to me from the start.  And though they were familiar with MVY before even meeting me, when I appeared on the scene in 2004, they became regular listeners.

And that's where my nephew first heard Norah Jones.

His comment?

"Sounds like a siren."

Now, if a kid, listening to a radio station aimed at people 3 or more decades his senior, were to suggest that a singer or a song was "like a siren," you'd probably take that to mean that the music, so age-inappropriate for them, was ear-splittingly horrible.

But that's not what he meant.

He meant that this singer sounded like a Siren, the mythological creature who's beautiful singing voice entranced sailors before luring them and their ships to sail too close to the rocks, ultimately causing shipwreck and death.

That kind of Siren.

And of all the reviews and comments and press-churn over Norah Jones' rise to success, this description was more succinct and more spot-on than anything I'd come across.

No ordinary grade-schooler would have come up with that line.

So here's to being age-inappropriate, but perhaps extra-ordinary.

Hear the song on Youtube.

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