StarMom
Inglewood, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, 2017.

The Beastie Boys, Salt N-Peppa, and New Edition. I grew up on that shit. Sure, there was an obsessive 10-year period in which I lived and breathed the New Kids on the Block. I can look back on that period now with the respect and nostalgia it deserves. (Call me, Joe McIntyre!) My point is this. In my 40s, I can still appreciate a good R&B or rap song.

Like Michael Jackson? Want an artist who is just as soulful, and at times you could swear you were listening to the gloved one himself? There are no child molestation whispers here. Do you love songs that seemingly yet elegantly can go on for seven minutes and have a song within the song? Then I give you Abel Tesfaye, known to many as The Weeknd. What a great stage name, right?!  So many of us look forward to Saturday and Sunday.

I heard The Weeknd for the first time in 2014. I’ll pause here so the fans who have adored him since 2010 can remind me of such. Know that I mean no shade. His oldest work is some of his best, and I dived into it all head-first once I became a fan. If Joe from NKOTB doesn’t call, I have my eyes set on Brad Pitt. But the fact that Abel is a good-looking “young” man doesn’t hurt either. I say young man, so I don’t sound too creepy.  That worked, right?

It’s creepy because I have a teenage daughter who is now 19. With a torrid public history of young models and pop stars, The Weeknd is more likely to date her than me. I’ve introduced my daughter to a lot of pop culture. Her love of Grease and Billy Joel confirms that. Now here was someone that she introduced me to. Whenever you are trying to connect with your child, especially a teen, I recommend exploring any common interest.

Let me get one more possibly awkward issue out of the way. If you consider yourself a prude, I hear Will Smith doesn’t have to cuss to sell records. Along with sick beats and rhythms (I’ll embarrass my daughter with that one), The Weeknd does talk about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I argue that some of the best music grapples with these same topics. I’ve always been open, age-appropriately, with my child. Now in her late teens, I’m not censoring her music, and in general, I take a real-world parenting approach.

In 2017, The Weeknd set out on his Starboy: Legend of the Fall tour, in support of the Starboy album. Know that my concert repertoire until this point mainly consisted of several Madonna concerts. As I packed the car for his tour stop in Inglewood, California, I thought this was an excellent opportunity to hear the songs live that my daughter and I belted out daily. You should see one of our full-blown mini-concert car-karaoke sessions. They’re legendary.

…Let a n—- Brad Pitt
Legend of the fall took the year like a bandit
Bought mama a crib and a brand new …

Wow! What a great show! I’ve lost my voice. I’m so sweaty from dancing. I have such a contact high right now. I’m hungry. These were some my thoughts as the lights came back on, signalling the end of the show.

OK, now I know those lyrics are a little crude, and I’ll concede that the Starboy album in its entirety isn’t even The Weeknd’s best work. But Legends of the Fall is my favorite Brad Pitt movie, and I like that The Weeknd took care of his own mother. So, this song and those lines have stuck with me. I have multiple sclerosis, and when my daughter was six, she drew the mansion we would live in when I was old and grey.  The drawing she proudly handed me had my very own handicapped accessible wing on it.

We had such a wonderful time at the concert that we did it all over again just a few months later when Abel stopped in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our mutual love of The Weeknd brought me just a little bit closer to my daughter. So, thanks, Abel. After the two concerts I’ve now attended, I’m pretty sure I am The Weeknd’s oldest fan. I wear the title proudly.

Stereo Story #516

Cher has had work recently accepted by Breath and Shadow and Passionate Chic magazine, The Diarist Project, Daily Inspired Life, and the book/blog, We Remember What We Ate. She is also the author of But You Look So Good and Other Lies: A memoir.