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#MixShorts -- Love Languages: Three Generations (for Misha + AC)



By Mark Anthony Neal | @NewBlackMan | NewBlackMan (in Exile)




Tuesday, October 17, 2017.



Standing in front of that dormitory on that Chicago Street, I was no more prepared to bid her a “goodbye” as I was saying “hello” almost 18 years earlier.  17-years and 48-weeks to be exact, from the vantage of that moment, accounting for those two-weeks as a newborn before she called our home, her home, and now the two weeks since she’s been at college.


The vast majority of those days she spent, either sitting behind me in cars -- the Honda Accord, the Mercury Sable (which took us to Austin), the Town & Country which took us to Durham, talking it seems, since she was 6-months-old -- or riding shotgun -- most famously in the Chrysler 300 (which I still miss) that she dubbed the “Black Man’s Car” -- as she did for so many rides to school and swim practices.


And always digging for the aux chord -- until the most recent “softball dad” car came with the bluetooth -- listening to Ambrosia and Gino Vanelli as easily as we did J. Cole and Rihanna; like my dad and me, daughter and daddy’s love language is in the mix.  


I am reminded as much daily -- she still poaching my Google Play account (though she has her own) to listen, on occasion, to that “Chuck Leonard” playlists that animated so many of my days when I was her age.  The analytics tell me that Elton John is a favorite of hers, especially “Your Song,” which has been played  almost 4 times as much as any of the songs on the playlist.


***


My father was a man of few words -- and a few hundred songs.  If I have any skill at reading “texts,” it was because he was the first “text” I had to decipher, as the LPs -- he never messed with ‘45s -- on the Fisher turntable dropped in succession; his moods listening to Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King generating more introspection, while the two organ playing Jimmy (ies) -- Smith and McGriff -- produced something just short of ebullience in the man.


I was always better with my words, though the songs always seemed the better way to say what I mean; same 26-letters in the alphabet; same words in the dictionary, authorship is in the curation.  


Almost twenty-years ago, didn’t quite know what to say to the baby-girl I was now charged with helping move through the world, so Marvin & Tammi was always the obvious choice, since I could sing Marvin’s part -- had been practicing for a lifetime -- softly in her ear. By the time she was a year-old, she had her first official mixtape -- can still hear Bebe Winans’ “In Harm’s Way” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Miss Black America” in her nursery.  She and her sister -- whose love language is ideas, and thus she is as expected a mind-full -- now share a playlist called “The Whurl-a-Gurls” with a nod to Toomer’s Karintha whose “running was a whir.” That every once and awhile, the three of us breaking out into Mr. Davis's "Candy Man."


And though she never had no problems with words, she spoke back to me with the music; 16 years later I still can’t hear Jill Scott’s “The Way” without hearing my daughter sing “g..r..i..t..s..” along with her.



Mark Anthony Neal is a Professor of African and African American Studies at Duke University, USA. He is an eminent cultural critic and the publisher of NewBlackMan (in Exile).

#MixShorts -- Love Languages: Three Generations (for Misha + AC)

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