It’s hard, but if you love somebody, let them be

Earplugs in place, blisters on little fingers, angry neighbours on stand-by; let’s get ready to grumble – my boy’s in a band.

US Kiss 1

Even before hitting the big 1-3, he’s done more than I ever managed and achieved a life-long dream of appearing on stage, in public, belting out tunes in front of giggly classmates.

Meet The Wolfpack – a Dr Pepper’s lonely hearts club band, named after the guys in The Hangover, which, of course, they’re all too young to have seen. Officially.

Keith Harrison

And in true rock‘n’roll fashion, they’ve already had fall-outs, line-up changes, threats to quit, strops, break-ups and make-ups in just a few short months.

The Boy started off as a drummer, disappearing behind a second-hand kit and quickly breaking the stool before realising that if he was going to have to stand up anyway, he looked better with a guitar in hand.

So we Slashed out on a snazzy red number, that weighed so heavily on him he decided to chuck it in and switch to the bass.

“Only four strings dad,” he chirped, “A bit easier.”

At their first gig in the school hall, The Boy was lead singer for one Song 2.

He took a deep breath, parted his hair to one side and let fly . . . Woo-hoo! A star is born.

Or maybe not. Because at the second show, TWP (great bands always abbreviate) had replaced him with some new kid on the block, while he concentrated on bass for Seven Nation Army. How come?

“Well dad,” he offered, like I was the NME, “It’s hard when I’m singing AND playing bass.”

Sting managed it for years, I replied.

“Who?” he asked, depressingly, before adding: “And you know I stick my tongue out when I’m really concentrating . . .”

“Like Gene Simmons?” I quipped.

Another blank look: “Who?”

“No. Kiss?”

The Boy exited stage left, swiftly, making ‘YUK!’ noises while I headed for the attic to check on my warping vinyl stash.

There, as I flicked through some old Motown classics, Echo & The Bunnymen rarities and virtually the entire Two Tone back catalogue, I came across some old pictures of my lad down the years.

There were some of his earliest baby shots, all dressed in Preston North End colours and bibs, his first music t-shirt – a cult classic featuring The Cure, a ticket stub from a Paul Weller gig I dragged him to and an old VHS copy of Quadrophenia that he’s strictly not to watch until he’s 18 at least.

And a telling thought hit me; I can show him all this stuff, but he’ll never be me – and I wouldn’t want him to be. He doesn’t really like football, which is a good thing. He won’t watch any films from the last century.

And I don’t like most of his music – which is exactly as it should be.

The temptation at a certain age is to live your life through your children, with the logic that what made you happy at their age will work for them – and for you – many years later.

With the exception of Cadbury Fruit & Nut, this is almost always not the case.

It’s second best for all concerned and you can’t live your life by proxy; you’ve just got to let them find their own way and give them the gentle steer of a musical soundtrack that may one day strike a chord.

So it was with poptastic serendipity that The Boy returned with a pal in tow just as ‘If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free’ hit the 45rpm turntable.

“Do you know who this is?” I asked his mate.

Blank look.


Blanker look: “Who?”

Yeah, the kids are alright.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Comments for: "It’s hard, but if you love somebody, let them be"


I'll have a pint of what you're on . .

Try our beta site!

We’re getting ready to launch our brand new website for and we’d like to give you a sneak preview.

We’re still applying the finishing touches, so please bear with us if something’s not quite right.

We'd love to hear your thoughts, good or bad, via the simple feedback button that you'll see to the right side of every page.

Try the beta