Friday Night Dance Parties
posted by Amy

Every once in a while, a certain song takes over around our house. My husband starts playing it on his guitar, the kids play it on their cd players and practice their air guitar moves, and I find myself humming it endlessly. A few years ago it was "Wig in a Box" from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch soundtrack. A bit later,"Hotel Yorba" by the White Stripes took over, followed up by "Jolene," the cover of the Dolly Parton song Jack and Meg White often sing live (that one goes over big in our house because it can easily be converted to "Josephine," our daughter's name).

Right now, the song we're all humming is Wilco's "Just a Kid" from the Spongebob Squarepants Movie soundtrack. This song, co-written by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and his young son Spencer Tweedy, is the highlight of a surprisingly strong movie soundtrack (other artists on the album include The Flaming Lips, The Shins, Ween, and Motorhead).

With lyrics like "I don't wanna go to school/But I don't get to make the rules/Too early, too early, too early, too early in the morning," "Just a Kid" expresses feelings everyone in our family can relate to, from Josie (age 3) to my husband (age 36).

In a 2002 USA Weekend interview, Tweedy, the father of two sons, said of becoming a father, "When I worked in record stores, or lived in an $80-a-month apartment when I was playing with Uncle Tupelo, I had a naive sense of well-being. When Spencer was on the way, I had this overwhelming fear of change -- of letting go and losing what was important to me."

Listen to any of Wilco's songs, and you'll hear Tweedy struggling to come to terms with grownup loves and losses. His kids Spencer and Sam and wife Sue Miller are a central part of his life; he talks in the same interview about how "every Friday night, right after pizza, we break out the disco records, and everybody dances."

A big part of why I love the song is how its chorus, "Everybody, everybody, everybody, everybody/Has to do something they don't want to do," makes us feel like we're all on the same team during those tough school morning wake-ups, late afternoon homework sessions, dishwashing duties, and laundry marathons. After all, everybody has to do something they don't want to do, and even us grownups don't make all the rules. If we did, school wouldn't start until at least 9 a.m., rather than the ungodly 8 a.m. start time my six-year-old is stuck with, and we'd always have time for a family dance party to "Just a Kid."