Family Traditions

I celebrated a traditional Thanksgiving – only our family’s traditions are a little different than most, I suppose. We always go to Central Market the day before Thanksgiving to buy our Turkey while my brother scouts out hot women in the cheese department. There’s the annual trip to Terra Toys to play with the wind up toys, bang gongs, perform impromptu puppet shows and debate which Pez dispensers are the true classics. The store is staffed with an interesting and eclectic array of sales people, who live in their own version of Neverland. At the counter, when they ask you if you’re ready, your first instinct is to inquire. “What did you have in mind, darlin’?” We play Scrabble and re-debate the Kennedy assissination. And invariably we stumble across some family episode that is either partially remembered or disputed and must be dissected until the real truth of it is known.

This year’s dissection involved a family outing to see James Taylor somewhere in Western Massachusetts more than thirty years ago. It was probably the first “concert” my brother and I went to. The heart of the debate revolved around venue, year and opening act. My mother seemed to think we also heard Jefferson Airplane that night. But I was sure that I would have remembered that. In the course of the hours-long debate, involving copious hours on the internet, I started listing all the bands/performers my brother, mother, and I had ever seen – individually or together. Making lists is more than a family tradition – it is a way of life.

Matt’s List:
The Police
The Go Gos
Duran Duran
The Replacements
Treat Her Right
The Plasmatics
John Lee Hooker
Missing Persons
Omar and the Howlers
The Nighthawks
The Neighborhoods
Tom Petty
The Blasters

Mum’s List:
Peggy Lee and the Harry James Orchestra
Billie Holiday
Glenn Miller
Dizzy Gillespie
Les Brown
Charlie Parker
Stan Getz
Buddy Rich
Lionel Hampton
Count Basie
Mel Torme
Tony Bennett
Tom Waits
Tony Price

My List:
Procol Harum (my first date)
Return to Forever
Miles Davis
Eric Clapton
Cowboy Junkies
Ray Charles
Stevie Ray Vaughan
The Kinks
David Bowie
The Rolling Stones
Pattie Smith
Tom Waits
Greg Allman
Dave Brubeck
B.B. King
Aretha Franklin
10,000 Maniacs
Stone Temple Pilots
Air Supply (my worst date)
Tom Petty
The Del Fuegos
Dizzy Gillespie
Lionel Hampton
Milton Nacimiento
David Byrne
Bonnie Raitt
Count Basie
Livingston Taylor
Wynton Marsalis
Branford Marsalis
James Brown
Ricky Lee Jones
Seals and Crofts
Diane Schuur
Diana Krall
G. Love & Special Sauce
The Mavericks
Gerry Mulligan
Eric Johnson
Peter Allen
Stanley Jordan
McCoy Tyner
John McLaughlin
Jaco Pastorius
Asleep at the Wheel
Fred Eaglesmith and the Flying Squirrels
Penny Lang
Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme
Tony Bennett
Tuck and Patty
Lucinda Williams
Paul Westerberg
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
The Blasters
Marcia Ball
Tony Price
Jack Johnson
Phoebe Snow
Indigo Girls
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones


  1. Mom
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I saw Tom Waits and Tony Price too

  2. Posted December 7, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I’m ‘mature’ so I recognize all on Mom’s list and, actually, most on yours; but Matt’s an enigma — I imagine you already knew that.