Being a parent demands certain sacrifices. You sleep less than you used to. Your schedule is no longer your own. You become intimate with another human being's poop. And sometimes, just sometimes, you listen to lullaby versions of songs you sort of liked when they first came out 10 years ago.
"Through the Wire" was the first time I'd heard of Kanye West. I don't know where that puts me on the sliding scale of hipness; I'm assuming I was late to the party. But I liked what I heard and what I understood to be the background circumstances of that particular track. West had recorded it at a time when his jaw was literally wired shut, the unfortunate aftermath of a car accident the previous year. That struck me as courageous at the time, in its way, and clever.
I also remember watching the music video for "Through the Wire," which debuted in those frantic months between when I graduated college and when I actually found my feet as a human person in the real world. Well, I remember glimpses of it. Footage of West when his jaw was wired shut, a post-accident puffiness blurring his features. And one scene in particular: West's Chaining Day ceremony, wherein Damon Dash put a glittering chain around Kanye's neck, at a concert in front of thousands (I assume?) of adoring fans, signifying his acceptance into the Roc-a-Fella family. I remember West looking sincerely moved. I believe that he was.
And then 10 years happened. I got older, slouchier, got married and moved to Alabama and had a kid. Kanye West evolved into music's most talented egoist, and had a baby with Ray J's sex tape buddy. It's hard to imagine him being openly appreciative of validation the way he was that day on stage with Dash. Much less validation that can be simultaneously read as submission.
I thought about that this morning when I put on my Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Versions of Kanye West CD, so that my six-month-old would have something to listen to other than Saturday morning infomercials. About how much difference 10 years will make in any life, whether you're an up and coming producer/songwriter/performer or a recent college grad who spends a little too much time at Fiddlesticks. Or a baby who knows she wants to crawl but hasn't quite put it all together yet.
It's an obvious point, sure. But it's one that doesn't really hit you until you're loading up the lullaby version of a song you used to sort of like, or at least you think you did. It was a long time ago, after all. [Amazon, iTunes]