Bands of brothers

“Is Carlo dead?”

My four year old son son sat wide-eyed and confronted the reality of it all. Carlo, a giant gash in the side of his head, lay in the sand. Flies buzzed around his silent frame as the camera did a long, slow death zoom to the open wound. The bleeding had stopped because there was no heartbeat to push it.

“Daddy, is Carlo dead?”

My wife looked at me, her eyebrows raised in an unspoken question. “Is now the time to start talking about death?” it asked.

I nodded.

The boy has already grasped the concept of death, but generally only as it applies to old people taking the dirt nap. In this case, Carlo was capital D dead and on his way to capital Nasty rot.

“Yes, baby, it looks like he is,” my wife consoled.

My boy picked up his plastic meerkat in his hand. “But I named this one Carlo,” he said and hung his head.

I didn’t really like seeing my son sad, but Carlo was dead and there was nothing we couuld do about it. Meerkat Manor hangs some harsh reality on a four year old brain, but it’s far from the worst thing my son saw on TV yesterday.


I have never come as close to barring my child from watching television as I did last night.

We don’t let the boy watch a lot of TV. He gets a couple cartoons in the morning, and, after a long day of swimming or playing that knocks his happy ass out, he might get a nature program or two. On rainy days, we’ll watch a movie. But, the TV is largely off at our house for most of the day.

Yesterday was one of those special afternoon in which the boy had been to camp all morning and then kicked some major swimming ass in the pool once he got home. He was wiped out and so he plopped down for a little TV time. I was working and not paying much attention when I heard the worst thing I’ve ever heard out of my son’s mouth.

“The Jonas Brothers rock the house,” my son said with a straight face. “They blow the roof off the house.”

I looked up, turned to the television, and then turned to my wife.

“Turn it off,” I said to my wife. “Turn it off!”


My son is smart when it comes to music. He instinctually knows when to throw the goat. Motley Crue’s “Live Wire” will come on XM and I don’t even have to ask whether the boy will be sticking out his index and pinky fingers in rock tribute. I just look in the rearview mirror and there it is.

The kid loves Crue. He loves Led Zeppelin. He likes jam grass. He likes music. I love him for that.

The other day, we were sitting in a restaurant and “China Grove” came on the speakers.

“Who is this, Dad?” he asked.

He heard the guitars, the syncopation, the drive. He felt it. He knew it was rock and roll.

“That’s the Doobie Brothers, buddy.”

The boy nodded and then listened. I was happy.

“Are they like the Jonas Brothers?” he asked


In the history of bands with “brothers” in the name, I would have paid to not live in a time in which my child’s first frame of musical reference would be The Jonas Brothers.

I grew up in an era that enjoyed the Doobie Brothers, Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Allman Brothers. Those bands, for better or worse, shaped who I am today. Hell, I even named my second son, in part, after one of the people in those bands. My generation was not the greatest in history, but we’re getting by and doing the world right. Hell, we even had the Blues Brothers and we’re better off for it.

And there are more. The Isley Brothers, The Everly Brothers, The Righteous Brothers, The Neville Brothers. I would have preferred my child had turned to me and said that any of them blew the roof off the house.

And it’s not as if there are not several good “brothers” bands in action today. Disney has completely ignored the talents of The Avett Brothers, Wood Brothers, and Waco Brothers. Instead, I get the 2009 version of the Monkees, except these kids wear purity rings on their fingers and vow to not get laid until they are married.

Rock and roll.


I know, I know. It’s a generational thing. It’s a Disney thing. No permanent damage will come of this. I should just let it be. But, I can’t. If I let this continue, who knows what will become of my boy?

I honestly am not sure how I’m going to handle it. I’ve considered throwing out the TV, putting a parent lock on the Disney Channel, and submitting my son to an hour a day of listening to my iPod. All of it seems a little harsh, so I’m thinking about telling him the coolest new kids’ show is called “Austin City Limits.”

If all else fails, I guess it’s good that my son has recently been learning about death.

At least he will understand what The Jonas Brothers have done to his daddy’s soul.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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16 Responses

  1. Bam-Bam says:

    Trust that you can still mold him.
    Believe in your parenting abilities.
    Ah hell…. if all else fails,
    maybe give BadBlood a shot? I can just see it.

    “Well Brother bands, brother bands, let’s see….

    Sepultura, Pantera, Van Halen ….”

    OK nix that.
    Get off the “brothers in the name thing” and maybe introduce him to The Kings of Leon. Hey! A triple threat of brothers at that!


  2. Katitude says:

    LMAO….let it go. he’ll figure it out for himself that pop boy bands are vile, stupid things.

    Even teenage girls figure that out eventually.

  3. John Boyanoski says:

    Confused about the dead meerkat part, but the rest was brilliant about brothers and music.

  4. Average White Boy says:

    Don’t forget the Winters (John & Edgar) and the Vaughns (Jimmy & Stevie Ray).

  5. Average White Boy says:

    The “Jonas Bros.” episode on South Park had me howling.

  6. otis says:

    Thanks, all.

    (BTW, John, if it wasn’t clear, the dead meerkat was a scene on the AP show Meerkat Manor which the boy was watching just before the channel got changed to Disney)

  7. Lee Jones says:

    You know, Brad, I wouldn’t worry too much. He kinda has to go through the Jonas Brothers. I went through the Monkees (and let’s recall they had people like Neil Diamond and Carole King writing their songs), but as soon as I found Steppenwolf and Cream, the Monkees fell off the play list. Uno will forget about the Jonas Brothers, but the forefinger and pinkie will always shoot for the sky when AC%DC or the Isley Brothers come on. Then you can silently do the parenting victory dance in the front seat.

    Regards, Lee

  8. T says:

    I just dropped a C on Taylor Swift tickets. Rock On!

  9. franky5angel says:

    Raya loves Shawn of the Dead, tattoos, Star Trek, biking, Obama, art, school, swimming, and Hannah Montana. Almost well rounded.

  10. KenP says:

    Kat is putting you on.

    She knows Otis and the Willis Brothers are way beyond lounge material.

    Admit it Kat…Heartbreakers…

    P.S. Damn nice tribute too.


  11. Tammie McGoldrick says:

    I think “Lee Jones” said it best. He’ll grow out of this. I too was a Monkees fan – until I heard real rock and roll and the Monkees became a distant, embarrassing memory. So time will correct this paradigm shift. It’s in his blood afterall.

  12. Drizztdj says:

    I give the purity ring thing 6 more months. Star or US magazine will have the exclusive.

  13. flopped da joint says:

    my 12 year old daughter’s fav bands are :the police, the cure,new order and pretty much anything from the early to mid 80’s. thank god i got to her early.

  14. Da Goddess says:

    Austin City Limits IS the coolest new show for kids. Seriously. I tape it for my son and he eats it up. He also devours everything I set in front of him from blues to punk and back again. He rarely comes up with something weird, but if he does, I patiently wait it out as I know another good some will easily turn his head from the pop that temporarily blinded him.

    I’m totally cuing up some tunes to send to you via, Otis. Not for you. But for your son.

  15. emme says:

    Otis- Yikes! It’s time for some remedial action. I like DaGoddess’s advice. Replace the graven Disney images with the true Rock (and BG etc) gods.

    Time’s a wasting, man.

    PS- What’s with all the hating on the Monkees? I know some of you laughed at their TV show and still know all the words to Pleasant Valley Sunday.

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