It's beyond dispute, I'd have thought, that good parents don't try to produce clones of themselves. We desire, above all, for our children to be happy and fulfilled in whatever way suits them. I don't particularly want mine to end up as journalists (God forbid, some might say); I'd grin and bear it, albeit through gritted teeth, if they developed an EastEnders habit; they could even support Arsenal if they really, really wanted to. So why is it so important that they like the same music as me? Am I a muso-fascist?
In the car on the way to spend the New Year with our friends on their farm in Wales, my 15-year-old stepdaughter Charlotte, having somehow contrived to lose her iPod, wanted to borrow mine (she claims hers is at a friend's house, though as it's allegedly been there for several months I suspect we may have seen the last of it). I handed it over, suggesting she might enjoy the Zombies' legendary Sixties album, Odessey and Oracle – the 97th greatest album ever made, according to Mojo magazine. "Thanks," she said with an engaging look that made me think she might follow my advice.
Fat chance. The repetitive beats emanating from her earphones suggested she'd selected dance music of some kind, but there's not much of that sort of stuff on it, so I asked her what she was listening to. "Aqua," she said. Aqua? As in "I'm a Barbie Girl / In a Barbie world / I'm plastic / It's fantastic"? On my iPod? "How did that get on there?" I asked, trying to control a simmering sense of outrage. "I must have put it on by accident," she replied with a sweet smile.
A few years back, hopes had been high that Charlotte would end up ticking the same musical boxes as her mum and I. The film School of Rock helped, as it introduced her to the delights of Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, David Bowie and The Ramones. Then the educative process began in earnest: White Stripes, The Smiths and Nirvana were all big success stories.
My attempts to inculcate a love of The Beatles – to my mind, the equivalent of imparting a classical education – may have fallen on deaf ears (though she found "Eleanor Rigby" affecting), but she went on to discover the likes of Motörhead, Lostprophets and X-Ray Spex all by herself.
Then came secondary school, and it all fell apart. In her book The Nurture Assumption the psychologist Judith Rich Harris argued all too convincingly that parental influence is distinctly second division when it comes to how our children turn out. Instead, it's all about peers. And, musically at least, Charlotte is the living proof. Following the example of her friends, she dropped rock in favour of R&B (and since when, an old rocker writes, did that term stop signifying Stax and Motown, Sam Cooke and the Rolling Stones, and come to mean the horrors of Mariah Carey, Craig David and Beyoncé?)
So my plans lie in ruins. Her Kasabian T-shirt is now in her mum's drawer; Lemmy's the devil incarnate (though to her credit that's partly because we let slip about his collection of Nazi memorabilia). "I hate White Stripes," she spat a few weeks ago.
On New Year's Eve in Wales there were two tellies on the go. "What's this rubbish?" she barked at The Hold Steady on Jools Holland's Hootenanny, stomping off to watch the woman who won the Nancy slot on I'd Do Anything wrap her tonsils round an R&B standard.
I asked her the other day who her favourite musicians were: the first three out of her head were Alesha Dixon, Take That and Leona Lewis. I despaired. There were a couple of encouraging after-thoughts – her passion for Morrissey still lingers, and the Ting-Tings were mentioned. But I'm forced to admit that her musical tastes are now entirely her own.
Tom, seven, and Eve, four, are the current objects of my attempts at musical imprinting. It's working so far – up to a point, anyway. They both like White Stripes, Eve's into The Beatles (well, "Yellow Submarine", at least – it's a start), although her twin passions are the soundtracks to Sound of Music and Oliver!, which is fine.
Tom's all-time favourite riff is "Smoke on the Water", but he's also developed a taste for "I Like To Move It" and "Who Let the Dogs Out" (thanks very much, Mr school disco DJ). And Charlotte's working on them, too – Take That and McFly figure strongly in her music lessons. So I have my work cut out.Reuse content