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It’s Their 1970s

By Katy Killilea
Ray-LamontagneOn a chilly day, as my whole family was indoors doing stuff alone/together–hunting for snowboard bindings in the basement, organizing Pokemon cards, reading comic books, and unloading the dishwasher–it hit me. This is my kids’ 1970s. And Ray LaMontagne is their James Taylor.

I do not mean that Ray LaMontagne sounds like James Taylor. I mean that he plays the same role in my family that JT did for me in the 70s. It’s what my parents put on the record player when they weren’t putting something on for a particular reason. It was the soundtrack to our ordinary lives–it’s what Barbie and Ken listened to in their camper and what was playing as I chatted on the phone with my boyfriend, Donnie Osmond. And thirty years later, I still love that music as fervently as the pageboy-ed fans with the giant spectacles most often seen in audiences of James Taylor’s PBS specials.

Ray LaMontagne is a singer-songwriter with a rough, eerie, warm voice and three gorgeous albums, including his new release, Gossip in the Grain. I love it as much as the other two. I can’t leave it in a stack on my turntable to demonstrate my love for it. Instead it is in constant rotation in my iTunes, and my kids don’t ever comment on it but I do notice them singing along and doing that shoulder-shrug-to-the-beat that little boys do unconsciously when they’re feeling the music. I like Ray LaMontagne the same way I like Nick Drake and he’s even a little bit Van Morrison-ish. But he is, for sure, something all his own, not just another lovely, raspy voice.

What’s playing on your family soundtrack these days?

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  • What about lala.com–listen to a whole, uninterrupted album for free (once) before you buy it. Pandora’s great too–but sometimes you just want one artist for free at a time!

  • Pandora + Airport Express + Airfoil = a house full of free, streaming music (ok, a lot of equiqment, but then it’s free) On your computer, just go to pandora.com enter your favorite artist(s) or song(s) and then it just plays like your favorite radio station. I entered Ray LaMontagne and I got Jack Johnson, Israel Kamakawiwo’olem, Ben Harper, Radiohead and a half dozen others who I’d never heard of and wouldn’t know about if not for Pandora. Thanks to the Music Genome Project…and the advertisers supporting Pandora. And with Pandora.com on an iPhone and I’m all set for life.

  • My music addict husband had Ray LaMontagne on in the kitchen just this weekend…finally I was like, “who is this dude?”….”this is the brooding , husky voice of Mr. Ray LaMontagne…you know, rainy day music”. Stayed on all weekend…

  • My children will one day reminisce about the Beatles, Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews Band. I wonder if they will reflect on how on dad-filled weekends there was AC/DC, and on mom weekends there is Sarah McLachlan and others.

    I especially love Hipster Holiday music, and there is nothing like listening to the kids belt it out when they think no one is listening.

  • We often have the Beatles and Motown playing but I am an 80’s punker myself – so I often have some of the more family friendly 80’s alternative playing when the kids are around, like the Cure, BAD, REM, Talking Heads and New Order. Other favorites include Elvis Costello and They Might Be Giants (before they started making music for children.)

  • Great article Katy!

    Oh, the memories…it’s 1976 and I’m lip-synching to “Tangled Up in Blue” which is blasting from my parents 8-track. Dylan definitely provided the soundtrack for my childhood.

    My kids will probably think of Bowie as our family soundtrack, because when mom is in control of the iPod it’s all Bowie/all the time…LuLu even named her Bitty Baby ‘David Bowie’…Glam Rock lives!

  • Oooo…Katy. I LOVE this piece. Thank you!

    Right now our family soundtrack is the “Soundscapes” station on digital cable.

    My husband wired our tv and stereo together so I can keep the tv off and tucked in its cabinet and still hear the music through our stereo! SO relaxing.

    I LOVE the image of you and your family doing things alone/together. We’re not quite there yet (tough with a toddler in the house!) but I look forward to that wonderful place of alone-togetherness in the not-too-distant future!!

    Thank you!!!