🎤 Hey Kids – Who Sings This?

photo credit: W_Minshull via photopin cc
photo credit: W_Minshull via photopin cc

The kids know the question will come.

The radio volume is up, the song plays, the lyrics get belted out… Everybody have fun tonight – everybody Wang Chung tonight! Or, She’s a brick – house. She’s mighty-mighty. Letting it all hang out!

Take it … to the limit … take it … to the limit. Take it. To the limit. One more tiiiiiiiiime …

It’s our thing, to guess who sings the song on the radio. It’s evolved. My girls know the songs. They know the lyrics. They know I’m going to ask, “Who sings this, girls?” They’re starting to remember now, though.

Wang Chung. The Commodores. The Eagles.

I hope when I’m not around, they’ll play among themselves. Quiz their mom and grandma. Show off someday in front of a date. “Fleetwood Mac! The Who! Johnny Hates Jazz! INXS! Elvis!

Progressing in song

Once, every man with a high voice was Michael Jackson. They now ask me to sing the one Jesus Jones song we ever hear, for clarity. They someday will ask if this is Genesis or just Phil Collins, Matchbox 20 or just Rob Thomas.

(It’s a guess. I have a 50/50 chance.)

My dad started this. Saturdays meant something delicious on the grill, a game on TV, and Super Gold on the radio, tunes that would waft through the summer air as if they should have been blared from the dashboard speaker of a GTO or ’56 Belair or ’72 Dodge Dart.

Buddy Holly! The Spinners! Cat Stephens!

Camdyn asks for “cowboy music” when it’s us two. We’ll hear Kathy Mattea, Alabama, or Rascal Flatts, and intersperse a “yeeeee-haw!” now and again for effect. (Her sisters have no appreciation for the beauty this).

Hayden found inspiration in Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out,” as she swayed back and forth in the backseat of my car, and soaked up the empowerment of “Who’s That Lady?” as we made our way to the playing grounds for our soccer match.

I want the world to know … got to let it show …

Sticking to The Script

Madison keeps me current on the hit line stuff. I can’t rest on my laurels of knowing anything by Chicago, Level 42, or Belinda Carlisle. I’d better know The Script. Fun. Cher Lloyd. It makes sense.

I’m the kid named after a Three Dog Night song, “Eli’s Coming.”

The dude who sang “Across the Universe” by the Beatles as a lullaby to his girls. It’s not all ballads and love songs. I’ve been chastised by fellow motorists when they discover that’s AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” my daughters air-guitar to.

I’ve heard my youngest chirp up in the middle of Wal-Mart:

It’s a quarter after one
I’m a little drunk
and I need you now!

(Thanks, Lady Antebellum.)

The worse came when I played that 50/50 chance with Camdyn. What are the chances this particular station would play the unedited version of “Devil Went Down To Georgia”, on this particular day?

Sure enough, Charlie Daniels spit out the insult of the devil. The five-letter, female dog one.

“Son of a gun” doesn’t fly with many classic rock listeners. Maybe she didn’t notice. The proof came at dinner, with one defining proclamation. “B*tch,” Grace declared, hardly looking up as she forked her green beans.

“That’s what the cowboy man singing that song on the radio said.


Busted. I immediately went into damage-control. How could I politely explain why you’d hear the term at a dog show and be unfazed? Or, pretend she said ‘ditch,’ and diligently chomp my own broccoli?

Or admit to facilitate the expansion of Grace’s curse-word directory?

Yeah, I should have countered, “But who sings that??”

Nietzsche quote music


  1. brie says:

    I love this! and am quite impressed that your girls can identify some of my older but beloved bands…sadly my three kids cannot identify or appreciate any of my fav bands (Moody Blues, Eagles, Bread)…and as I develop a taste for their music (Rob Thomas, Adam Levine, One Republic) they scoff at me for borrowing their CDs to listen in the car on my drive to work! teenagers!!!

    1. Thanks Brie! As they’ve gotten older, they’ve rebelled against the old favorites, unfortunately. And I’ve gotten too old for some of the current stuff being passed off as music. I love me some Ke$ha and Cher Lloyd, and even One Direction isn’t bad, but other stuff feels like waterboarding for my ears.

  2. We have an added twist to the game-my husband’s favorite thing to do is find a best of… countdown on the YouTube on any given evening.

    My daughter knows all the words to the Lady Antebellum song too, and unfortunately the words to Red Solo Cup.

    1. Hey we have to keep the influence on the kids for what good music really is, right?

      Red Solo Cup … that’s the one that the kids are banging cups and counters everywhere for, isn’t it? Maybe all that tapping and drumming will occupy their minds and keep them away from the lyrics. I can only imagine.

      Remember when red Solo cups were for picnics?

  3. michellenahom says:

    That is too funny ~ my daughter does the same “Name that tune” game when we’re all in the car together. She gives us a little snippet from her music library (and it’s not all up-to-date music…she likes stuff from my husband and my era as well, and even has some songs from my in laws era!) and then tries to get us to guess. Sometimes I can get the artist, but names elude me. Someone always gets it though! It’s actually a pretty fun game.

    1. I think it probably leads to better SAT scores, being able to identify songs by The Clash and Duran Duran. And remember, every time REO Speedwagon plays for your kids, it’s 3 minutes, 24 seconds they’re not subjected to “Thrift Shop” (although I love that song – it just gives me the bends when I hear my kids sing “this is mm-mm awesome!”

  4. We totally play this game too! And it also started with my dad, who made sure I appreciated the music of his day. My first real lyric issue came when my kids were singing Lady Gaga’s “Love Games” in public (I allow top 40 every now and then to feel like I’m “current”) and was asked the inevitable question, “What’s a disco stick, Mommy?”

    Yeah. I changed the subject fast, as well as the station.

    1. This is definitely in the dad wheelhouse, this game. Well, everyone knows the disco stick is just a pogostick.


      When Gaga sings “I don’t want to be friends” in that one song, “Bad Romance,” my kids think she’s ending a friendship.


  5. inkpaperpen says:

    This is so funny! Lol. Reminds me of my mom. I wasn’t allowed to listen to Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys as a child. It was all Aerosmith and Motley Crue. Lol.

    1. It’s definitely entertaining. Your mom did you a favor, trust me! She ended up with a rockin’ girl in the process.

      1. inkpaperpen says:

        Oh yes, I definitely think she ended up with a pretty awesome daughter 😛

      2. Especially if you recognize Steven Tyler as the lead singer of Aerosmith, and not “that dude from American Idol!”

      3. inkpaperpen says:

        I actually recognize him as the guy who dumped Erin Brady, as well as the lead singer of Aerosmith. Gotta look at priorities lol.

      4. And he sings, “I don’t want to miss a thing?” I just googled Erin Brady. Um, you missed *something*, Steve.

      5. inkpaperpen says:

        And “Dude Looks Like a Lady” which is a personal favorite of mine lol.

      6. Sung by a dude with long hair. It’s like Frankie Valli singing “Walk Like a Man,” but in an octave like a woman.

      7. inkpaperpen says:

        Hahaha I didn’t think about it that way.

  6. Hubby and I used to compete to our 1980’s Billboard cds. Big Guy played just the first few opening notes and we tried to beat the other to the song title and artists. Hubby has 10 years on me…songs I listened to in Jr. High, he was listening to at the Pit Stop where he worked (yeah, that thought creeps him out too). Big Guy is well-educated in “classic” music (when did I become a “classic”?) and we’re working on Little Guy next. Your girls will remember and will likely carry on the tradition. “Don’t you forget about me, no, no, no…”

    1. Remember the Billboard top 10 list?

      We older dudes definitely have an advantage of actually walking and talking in the 70s. And the age difference is only creepy if you dated while you were in junior high and he was at the Pit Stop. I’m not going to ask.

      Elise has Pandora, and there’s a lot of overlap between our stations.

  7. Teri says:

    This is something we also do, but we first have to switch the category over from ‘Artist’ to ‘Song’ in the car. Satellite radio really does spoon feed these kids. This is a game we truly love because it really does keep the girls on their toes. It’s give and take too, because they get to hear (and learn to love) some great classics and I get to listen to the stuff they enjoy. I’ve learned that talent is a very loosely defined word in today’s music but I’m sure my mom thought the same thing when I was a kid, being fed a tasty diet of Patsy Cline, Elvis, Sinatra and Benny Goodman.

    The really cool thing is, we were diving with a big band station on the radio, and my 13 y/o recognized Big Noise from Winetka, because she plays it in jazz band.

    Nicely done, Dad.

    ps…..Jesus Jones: Right Here, Right Now? What else will be on his “Jesus Jones: Greatest Hit” album?

    pps…..both my girls have been to see Paul McCartney, The Police and Billy Joel in concert. And yes, I’ve had to sit through Miley Cyrus and Big Time Rush. As I said, it’s give and take.

    1. If we had satellite radio, I’d have to tape over the display. I wonder how the top students at MIT would fare in name that artist. I bet they’d do well. This is good brain food here.

      I loved jazz band – I played baritone sax. How awesome your kid is exposed to that beautiful music. I can’t get my kids into it.

      Thanks, T. Who knew this kind of game would take off like it did?

      p.s. Jesus Jones is, to my knowledge, a one-hit wonder. But he had a lot to live up to with a name like that.

      p.s.s. My girls haven’t been to a concert yet, unless you count that time the Jonas Brothers came to their elementary school. I’d sit through some of their stuff for a chance to take in a Collective Soul show with them (I don’t even know if Collective Soul is even still together!)

  8. Awesome! That song always seemed unrealistic to me. If if the devil was coming he wouldn’t go down to Georgia. Seems like he’d go straight to Texas.

    *wink wink*

    1. I think maybe the devil was coming *from* Texas. So, it’d be “The Devil Went East To Georgia.”

      Not the same feel.

  9. Rosey says:

    My mom and grandparent’s music are still some of my faves today and my kids can tell you who’s singing them now too (at least the oldest two…my 14-yr pretends she can’t stand any of it, but I know she secretly loves it). 😉

    1. The kids have to know our music is much better than theirs … don’t they?

  10. Chris Carter says:

    My kids belt out “8675309” at the top of their lungs at random times, with the back up of “I GOT IT I GOT IT!!….” We are 80’s people- but ever so often, all the classics from all the decades ring in real time! You are so lucky to have those precious memories with your dad…
    As always- love your post, sweet friend!! 🙂

    1. For a good time, for a good time call?

      Even if we didn’t expose them to the great stuff, they’d find it – they’d get tired of “ifyoulikeitthenyoushouldaputaringonit!” and will default to Heart, Electric Light Orchestra and Spin Doctors, right?

      I’m glad dad had the oldies playing … when I hear “she’s real fine my 409,” it brings me right back to Saturdays with dad.

      Glad you like it, CC!

  11. Rorybore says:

    Name that tune = best game ever!!
    My iPod is loaded with everything from old blues and jazz (Charles Mingus and some Irma Thomas anyone?), to classic rock like Floyd and Zeppelin….. to yes *shamefaced* Call Me Maybe and some Disney tunes. But they will know Music. And they will love it. Mommy say so.
    But yes, there have been unfortunate occasions of the unedited “Payphone” and sometimes I am not quick enough on the FF when a Beastie Boys anthem comes on. LOL

    1. It sure beats punching and spitting, doesn’t it?

      I like your eclectic style in music. All of us have some shameful items in that basket of musical goodness, you know. I might or might not have thumbs-upped some One Direction, even.

      The unedited Payphones and Thrift Shops of the world are the best, though, aren’t they? It’s unfortunate playing music with objectionable lyrics is so frowned-upon in our society.

  12. Letizia says:

    This is so funny! You are right, you have to watch out for some of those lyrics…. but maybe you’re just introducing them to a form of poetry, right? 😉

    1. Yes, poetry! Colorful, meaningful poetry … right?

  13. Hi Eli! Great to meet you. What a journey it has been for me! lol – I’m coming all the way from Google Plus. It took a little guess work to track you down. 🙂 Fun post. I like what you have done with the place. Supporter of 5M4M and SITS Girls? Sweet! Look forward to reading more.

    1. Good to meet you too, Pamela. Glad you landed here! Yes, I support both those fine endeavors. Since I’m a boy, the least I can do is support the girls.

  14. Kate Hall says:

    Great music! I used to play this game at my slumber parties when I was a kid. My aunt would play her 45s and we would all guess the name of the song (rather than the musician). I would get most of them, but then wasn’t allowed to win a prize because it was my birthday and then I would throw a birthday tantrum. Those are great. I brought that song, “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To” to life.

    1. That’s a heckuva playlist, right?

      I can still remember a lot of the stuff on my 45s. I bought “Jesse’s Girl,” by Rick Springfield, and noticed when I got it home that there was a lipstick mark on his face. I imagined that it came from a really, really pretty girl. So, I kissed it too. It didn’t occur to me until now that I was also kissing Rick Springfield.

      Birthday tantrums are the best. You really don’t get in trouble for them, because it’s your birthday. I think you’re overdue about 37 prizes, don’t you?

  15. Grinning over the “yeah, but who sings that?” line! Love this game and the fact that your dad started the tradition. Both my two – 19 and 20 are into music but according to them NOT because of me. This summer, if he said it once, my son said it 47 times “We weren’t raised in a musical house.” Excuse me. I beg to differ. Just because I’m not big on knowing who all the bands were/are that doesn’t mean I don’t listen to tunes. In fact tunes are constantly on when I’m driving. I don’t listen to talk shows – especially when chauffering. “Yeah – but we always have to tell you who’s singing …” Oh man. It’s never ending. I should have read this post 17 years ago Eli. It would have been a fun game to play.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It keeps us sharp, Kelly. Marie is particularly proud to know the one hit by Duncan Sheik every time it comes on.

      Your comment reminds me of a joke I heard today.

      A young girl rode home with her family after her baby brother was baptized. She began to cry.

      “What’s wrong, honey?” dad asked.

      “When baby brother was baptized, the preacher said he did it because he wanted us to grow up in a Christian family. But … I don’t want to live with anyone else!”

  16. stomperdad says:

    My kids ask me that question when the radio station has their “throwback track contest”. “Dad, who sings this? You could win!” We’re usually in the truck and I usually don’t have the cell phone on me. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m not. My kids love Big Yellow Taxi and Fast Car. And when you wrote out those lyrics I didn’t read them. I SANG them!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      If only we could use this superpower for financial gain, Eric. You and I are blessed with useless knowledge.

      That I know what Naked Eyes and Duncan Sheik sing ought to pay off at some point.

      Those lyrics were meant to be sung, for sure. And your kids have picked a couple of great ones there. I especially love the story in Big Yellow Taxi.

      Joni Mitchell’s giggle is priceless.

      1. stomperdad says:

        The radio always picks popular songs so I more often than not know the song. It’s my wife who has taken songs to the superpower level. Not only can she name a song within the first 3 notes, she also knows all the words. While I sometimes can hum the tune but forget the words and the name.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        When you don’t know the words – make them up.

      3. stomperdad says:

        We excel at making them up.

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I consider it a creative exercise, anyway.

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